Guest Post: Ten Little Details About Unscripted
Do you watch the “making-of” extras on a DVD? Or perhaps watch the movie with the commentary track on? Books need something like that. Kindle, get on it! In the meantime, let’s make do with this list of ten little details about my second novel, Unscripted, which you wouldn’t know just from reading it.
1. The character of Faith, and her experience getting booted off her own television show, came from my frustration over the fact that so many executive producers get fired from the shows they created. (I know—I need to get a life.) What really bugs me is how the network always proudly proclaim nothing will change…and everything promptly changes. How could it not, when the creator not only knows the entire story arc of the show, but gives the characters their voice? I was particularly irate at how awful the last season of Gilmore Girls was without Amy Sherman-Palladino (love her!) steering the ship. The new showrunner and producers tried to sound like her in the seventh season’s scripts, but they were always pale imitations of Sherman-Palladino’s unique voice. And so Faith was born.
2. Faith’s last name was originally Underwood, because I wanted her initials to be “F.U.” in homage to her ballsy attitude. Then I realized a minor character from my first book had the last name Underwood (I have no idea why I like that surname so much), so I had to change it, and I chose Sinclair. When she calls herself “Faith Freakin’ Sinclair” to boost her confidence, her “initials” are “F.F.S.,” which is almost as good as “F.U.”
3. Hero Mason’s looks, especially his three-day-growth beard, is more Henry Ian Cusick than Bradley Cooper, but either one is just fine with me. Just. Fine.
4. My brother and his family live in Riverside, Calif., which is indeed “just up the road from Moreno Valley,” as I mentioned in Unscripted. Because I visit every summer, I have a pretty decent knowledge of the area, especially the “gates of hell” type heat.
5. The school where Mason teaches, Inland Empire Community College in Moreno Valley, Calif., is fictional; the “gates of hell” type heat, however, is real. Very, very real.
6. I have no first-hand knowledge of the entertainment industry, so I had lunch with a kindly online friend, another writer, who does. I picked his brain as cleanly as I picked my honey-drizzled fruit and nut plate (and not in a zombie way at all). Then I took the Warner Brothers tour to get a feel for what a real studio looks like. The tour was a lot of fun—you get to walk around the backlots and soundstages—and WB has a fabulous collection of Harry Potter props and costumes in a mini-museum. You can try on the sorting hat! (I got Gryffindor. My son got Hufflepuff, but he wanted Slytherin. Should I be concerned?)
7. I was early to the lunch with my friend in the biz, so I decided to drive around the Hollywood Hills for a bit, to get a real feel for where Faith lives—because Google Earth can only take you so far. I promptly got lost among all the twisty-turny roads and almost ended up late for my lunch date. Cool area, though, and it influenced the story a bit. There’s nothing like in-person research.
8. Faith’s stepfather, Dominic, is a strange little man whose accent and quirky cadence came from my Italian family members, especially one favorite gregarious cousin (who’s since passed on). If you weren’t familiar with his thick accent, you’d swear he was speaking Italian, not English. I always had to act as translator, or my friends would never have understood a word. Essentially I was translating English into English.
9. There’s a passing reference to Faith and her agent having dinner at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. It’s my son’s favorite place to eat in California, and we happily make the drive to the original Hollywood location at least once (preferably twice) every visit. Fried chicken and waffles (yes, with syrup) sound like they don’t go together, but they so do.
10. With the exception of my third novel (just because I plum forgot), I always include a minor character named Zoë, in honor of my son’s first “girlfriend.” The dynamic duo were in the same kindergarten, first grade, and second grade class. Then they were separated, forced apart by the heartless school system. I hold out hope they’ll reunite, maybe in junior high.
To find out more about Jayne Denker, please visit her website!
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