Happy Wednesday, readers!
Today, we're celebrating the sixth and final book in Jen Calonita's SECRETS OF MY HOLLYWOOD LIFE series, There's No Place Like Home, which released in March. TNPLH concludes the whirlwind journey of Kaitlin Burke, a teenage starlet trying to juggle the insane -- but insanely fun -- world of celebrity with the trappings of "normal life." Here's what Jen has to say about saying goodbye to her beloved character:
For fans of the "Secrets" series, this is it: the final Secrets! It's definitely a bittersweet moment for me. I've written about Kaitlin, Sky, Laney, Austin and the crew for six books and I've loved every minute of it. I'm hoping this last book will be your favorite, as it is mine, and is many of my friends as well. Kaitlin finally (finally!) makes a decision about her life and decides what she's going to do with it, but first she has to see what life would be like if she wasn't a star at all. Is it better than she imagined or will she be begging to get back into her closet full of Jimmy Choos? Read it and find out, and thank you to all of you--like the ones who started reading about Kaitlin in seventh grade and now are in college--who have stuck with Secrets for six books. I hope you've enjoyed her world as much as I have.
Definitely check out ALL of the books in the "Secrets" series, and in the meantime, here's Jen with an exclusive guest post for the Contemps!
20 Things You Don’t Know About Me (and my writing) by Jen Calonita
- Secrets of My Hollywood Life has been the official series title since day one. It came to me on my commute home on the Long Island Railroad and it stuck.
- In Secrets, Kaitlin is named Kaitlin Burke because that was always the name I loved as a teen. I liked it so much that I used the name for a tenth grade English video project. (I still have the video on VHS. How much does that age me?)
- I have to write with music in the background, but I don’t have to like the music I am listening to! It’s actually better if I don’t. No Glee soundtracks. No Katy Perry. It’s better if the music is just background noise otherwise I sing along and get distracted.
- I have a set writing schedule each week. With two small boys under the age of seven, it’s easy to get distracted with school stuff, playdates and T-ball lessons. When I know when my writing time is, it’s easier for me to get right down to work.
- Our Chihuahua, Captain Jack Sparrow, is my writing partner. He lies on the couch in my office while I work.
- There are so many incredible YA authors that I adore. I’m a huge fan of Ally Carter and have the date for Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society 2) marked on my calendar. I will always like Meg Cabot because she is the writer I most admired and looked up to as I started writing. I also enjoy Sara Shepard, Sarah Mylnowski and Elizabeth Eulberg.
- My favorite books growing up were Homecoming by Cynthia Voight, Superfudge by Judy Blume and the entire collection of Sweet Valley High books by Francine Pascal. I used to drive my parents crazy because I’d read SVH in a day and then want to drive to the store to get another one ASAP.
- I am always asked about a sequel to Sleepaway Girls. The book wasn’t meant to be a series, but I did leave it pretty open-ended. I mean, how hard would it be to return to camp the following summer? The more people email me and ask, the more it makes me want to write another book. So basically, stay tuned!
- Before I became an author, I was a magazine editor for a teen entertainment magazine. I spent my days interviewing and writing about many teen stars that I adored.
- Favorite celebrity interview I ever did: Zac Efron on the set of High School Musical 3. Worst celebrity interview: backstage at Z100’s Jingle Ball with a certain female music diva that wouldn’t give me the time of day till her publicist told her what magazine I was from. Most fun I’ve had during an interview: Being backstage with ’Nsync on tour (Who is ’Nsync you say? Think Justin Timberlake before his The Social Network acting days)
- I’ve walked down several flights of stairs uber pregnant in hot and sticky July New York City to fetch Chad Michael Murray aspirin. Must show how much I liked the guy. My first magazine cover story I ever wrote was about him.
- My favorite place in the world is with my family in Walt Disney World. I’ve often said I would live in Cinderella’s Castle if they let me. She’s had it long enough, don’t you think?
- My first-ever celebrity interview was with someone my editor called “a model turned actor on this show about kids hanging out in a basement.” Turned out to be Ashton Kutcher. We only spoke by phone, but he seemed really nice.
- I always enjoyed attending The Sundance Film Festival, but I never ran into celebrities on the street. That was my husband’s job. I’m still mad that he got to take the bus home with Matt Damon one day.
- Kaitlin Burke is based on real actresses, but not any one celebrity I interviewed. I took my favorite personality traits from my favorite stars and mixed them into one.
- Most nervous I’ve ever been at work: interviewing Joey McIntrye, whose face used to adorn my bedroom pillow. Meeting Joey was sort of surreal, and no, I never told him about my crush. Or (ahem) the fact that I once sent him a letter asking him to the junior prom. His mom actually wrote me back. I still have the postcard.
- Every time I turned in a draft or an edit of There’s No Place Like Home, I cried. The epilogue gets me every time, which is funny because I wrote it. I’m just so happy with the way Secrets ended and so proud of where the characters wind up.
- I’m very bad at Twitter. I do tweet, and I try to everyday, but I’m always worried my tweets are boring or not funny enough.
- The best advice I can give to aspiring writers out there is to start by writing what you know. For me it was Hollywood (where I worked), sleepaway camp (I was a camp counselor) and relationships (don’t we all have issues with those?). The more comfortable you get at writing, the better you’ll become.
- My next series is Belles, which will be out next spring. It’s about two polar opposite cousins who are served a dish of culture shock when they wind up sharing the same household. Izzie and Mira are a ton of fun to write, and I really hope readers will enjoy them as much as they have Kaitlin.