When her screenplay gets accepted to a local LA film festival, 23-year-old Rylie Cates heads to Tinseltown, where she is thrust into the spotlight as her career takes off.
As she struggles to live up to her newfound success, Rylie meets the people who will become her friends, her guides to the city and the movie business, and ultimately, her “LA family.”
Despite her best intentions, deciphering the politics surrounding her new career proves difficult, and she unwittingly makes a few enemies on her path to success.
Confronted by scheming studio executives, philandering movie stars, and the perpetual lure of the bottle, Rylie relies on her new friendships to help her navigate life, love, and business in Hollywood.
A little background: This scene is from “Chapter Six: Bad Habits.” Rylie has recently had her heart broken and has wandered off to be by herself at a friend’s party when she meets Shane. They’ve already been chatting for a couple minutes in this scene:
‘You new here?’ Shane said.
‘I just moved here in May.’
‘And Wes Kern already broke your heart?’
‘Sad, but true,’ Rylie said.
‘You’ll move on. He’s just a kid having fun being famous.’
‘I hope it’s soon. Heartbreak sucks.’
‘Truer words.’ He told her about a girl who broke his heart, and it was such a sad story, she cried. Maybe for him, and maybe for herself. In five weeks, she hadn’t cried over Wes, and maybe she just was overdue. He held her, comforting her without trying to quiet her.
‘I don’t get why your date would leave you. I sure wouldn’t,’ Rylie said, sniffling.
‘I guess I’m too old.’
‘You’re not old.’
‘Too old for her.’
‘What is she, picky? You seem like a catch to me,’ Rylie said.
‘She’s twenty-five. I’m thirty-four.’
‘By that standard, you’d be too old for me, too.’
‘Wow. Am I too old for you?’
‘Age is irrelevant if you like each other.’
‘I like you. Even watching you cry, you’re beautiful.’
‘You better be careful or I might fall for you, too.’
‘Promise?’ he said. He kissed her then, gently, and she kissed him back. She couldn’t have protested if she wanted to, and she didn’t. The kiss only lasted a moment, until a few boisterous party-goers decided to skinny dip. Shane smiled, sensing their mutual embarrassment at being caught. ‘Can I take you home?’ he said.
Rylie nodded. ‘That’d be great. Thanks.’
1. Where did you get the idea for the novel?
I don’t remember exactly where the characters or the idea came from, but I knew I wanted to tell a story about success. I had been feeling a little like a failure at the time I wrote Quiet on the Set, and the idea of living the dream and getting the dream job was extremely appealing.
2. Your title. Who came up with it? Did you ever change your title?
I came up with the title during the editing process. It’s based on a common phrase associated with the film industry. I wanted to connect it in that way to setting, but I wanted to find the right phrase that could connect with what the book is about as well. I think this particular phrase conveys some of the emotions and loneliness of the story, while connecting it to the filmmaking business. It is the only “real” title I used during the writing process—for a long time, I just called it “Rylie Cates” after the main character. I usually don’t pick a title until I absolutely have to. For one thing, the story is still developing and changing while I’m writing, and to give it a title before it’s finished seems limiting to me. But, it’s also a lot of pressure to choose a title, one that’s distinctive, describes the book in some recognizable way, and evokes the right sentiment about the story. So, I tend to put it off as long as possible.
3. Why did you pick this genre? What do you like about it?
I think I just fell into the new adult genre because it’s what I know. Some writers choose their genres based on what they like to read, but I don’t really read anything like the stories I write. I feel like I connect with new adult stories because that’s where I am in my life, still sort of in that transition from my youth into adulthood, trying to figure things out, and I relate to my characters, or perhaps pass it onto them, because they’re going through the exact same thing.
4. Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
My first review from someone who wasn’t a friend or a family member was pretty thrilling. Lucky for me, it was a positive one! It’s an incredible feeling to know that someone else enjoyed reading what I wrote, and even more than that, they liked it enough to tell other people about it.
5. What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
The main book I’m reading right now is The Tale of Findo Gask by Huw Thomas. I tend to read several books at once, but this is the one I’ve been spending the most time on lately. It’s about a boy thief who grows up to be one of the most notorious thieves in London. I’m really enjoying it—sort of a modern day Oliver Twist story, but not depressing like Dickens. It’s very entertaining, and I’m actually learning quite a bit about London in the process!
6. What is your writing process?
I’m not sure I have a process the way some other writers do, but I have a few things I do to prepare. When I get an idea for a story, I write it down and create a brainstorming map to lay out plot points , themes and characters. After that, I work on character names. Mostly, I try to find names that fit the setting and each character’s background, but sometimes, I look into meanings or origins of the names, depending on the story. From there, I refine the brainstorming map and any notes I have into a rough outline, just something with a beginning, middle and end—though my story usually wanders off script at some point and I have to revise it.
While writing, I don’t really have much of a process or a routine. I write when I can find time, or when I feel compelled to work on my story. I don’t always write at the same time every day because my daily schedule tends to change and certain priorities get shifted around. I just keep at it, a few hours at a time, and then sometimes I get lucky and the story comes easily. Then, I usually stop doing almost everything else and just get the story out while it’s still fresh in my mind.
7. At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say?
Since I’m a self-published author and a beginner at that, I haven’t actually done any official book-signings. Were I to sign a book for someone, I think I would probably find a nice, short quote to include, maybe something inspirational, or maybe a thank-you-for-your-support type of thing. I had a book signed by one my icons, Elmore Leonard, and he wrote simply: “Take it easy.” Maybe simple is best.
8. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I studied philosophy in college, and I’m currently employed. I think that would surprise some people because I keep reading these articles about how philosophy is one of the worst majors you can do in college if you plan on getting a “real” job, but it was the best decision I could have made. I loved it, and it was the only thing that felt challenging in a fun way. I knew it wasn’t the most traditional type of major to choose, but I didn’t want to spend my college years studying something that didn’t interest me. I didn’t realize it would become such a hang-up and point of confusion for so many future interviewers when I got out into the job market after graduation, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I learned a lot of valuable skills that I use every day, even though I don’t hold a job in that field. It actually helped me with my creative writing, too, in an indirect way. I think I used to ramble more, but after three years of rambling philosophers, and having an awesome ethics professor who believed in being as succinct and concise as possible, I think my writing is much more refined and concise than it ever used to be.
9. How do you react to a bad review?
Badly. It really hurts when someone says they didn’t like something that I put so much of my time, heart, soul, and effort into. At first, I get really upset and worried that other people won’t like it either, but then I look at it again and try to get at what the reviewer meant. Any feedback is helpful, so I try to look at it as a chance for me to learn something about how others may view my writing, and I try to keep those details in mind the next time around. It just takes me some time to get over the shock and upset at first to be able to find the truth and constructive criticism in what the reviewer said about the book.
10. How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
I’m not sure that I did celebrate! The first few sales were from family members and friends, so I guess it didn’t have the same impact on me. I did celebrate getting my first review—it’s printed and framed over my desk.
By day, I work in a cubicle tending to an e-commerce website. By night, I blog, I review television shows and films, and occasionally, I settle down long enough to write a novel. I’ve always had a diverse set of interests, which has led me to study everything from ethics to yoga to film, but the one thing that has stayed consistent is my enthusiasm for writing. Writing is my way of bringing all of my interests together—I may not be able to speak six languages, pick the lock on a door, or cook a five-course meal without a recipe, but I can write about a character who can, and that’s the next best thing!
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