My rating: 4 of 5 stars
She had only one dating rule: no more actors.
For entertainment reporter Kate Ferris, interviewing celebrities is just part of the job, and she’s never been one to get starstruck. At least, not until she meets movie star Nick Archer in the flesh. One of the hottest and most elusive bachelors in Hollywood, Nick seems miles out of her league, so when he takes an interest in her at a press junket, Kate can’t help but be intrigued. She may have a strict rule against dating actors, but he’s drop-dead gorgeous and she’s only human.
As their flirtation blossoms into full-blown romance, Kate struggles to maintain her journalistic integrity, while potentially becoming a subject of tabloid gossip herself. Can she and Nick survive the public fallout when the painful mistakes of their past come back to haunt them both?
If only romance were as simple in real life as it is in the movies.
When I happened across Buzzworthy by Elsie Moody, my expectation was that it would be a pleasant and fun romance, set amongst the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. What I did not expect is that Buzzworthy would be a story of uncharacteristic depth and emotionally satisfying heart.
Elsie Moody brings considerable journalistic experience from a career in the Hollywood press industry, providing a vivid backdrop where industry politics and the cut throat nature of celebrity interweave through a narrative about real people, trying to make their way through an often superficial and unforgiving environment. The result, on that score, feels authentic.
Into the mix, Moody inserts a cast of diverse characters, led by plucky journalist Katelyn Ferris and enigmatic Hollywood A-List actor Nick Archer. They are appealing characters on their own terms, well drawn and full of nuance. I was impressed with how fully realized they are - though this I consider is a failing on my part. The Hollywood setting, the world of movies and celebrity had me thinking that I would find limits in the trajectory of Moody's characters. I underestimated just how much these individuals had to offer. They crackle with ambition, intelligence, sexiness, villainy and humanity. It was a delightful discovery.
Moody's story craft is layered well, with some satisfying twists and turns on its path towards resolution. There was unpredictability in the narrative too, which had me anxious and wanting to read ahead. And, of course, the romantic elements were lovely, with moments of tenderness, emotion and steam.
Buzzworthy is a smart, funny, sexy and heartfelt romance and a resounding success as a debut for Elsie Moody.
Elsie Moody worked in Hollywood for many years as an entertainment reporter, where she attended her share of press junkets and spent countless hours interviewing celebrities on red carpets. Now, she focuses her time writing romantic novels set in the entertainment industry. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two precocious cats.
I had the opportunity to have a chat with Elsie over a 3AM cup of tea while Elsie was keeping a nervous eye on the Californian wildfires that have dominated the news cycle this past week. I started by congratulating Elsie on Buzzworthy. It's what I regard as a real step up in terms of romance. I was intrigued to know more about how she brought elements of her career as a journalist in Hollywood to the character of Kate Ferris.
DM: Having been a journalist in the entertainment industry, and modeling Kate on your own experiences, have you had any encounters where the interview script kinda got thrown out the window and you found yourself having a much deeper discussion with your interview subject? I imagine those experiences would have been really satisfying for you as a journalist.
EM: I've never broke protocol the way Kate does by talking negatively about the film with the star, though I'd definitely had the same thoughts! Maybe that was a little projection there, having her say the things I couldn't because I actually wanted to be invited back. There isn't time to go into depth in a junket situation, but I have had the opportunity to attend private dinners set up by publicists with a single star and a few journalists to promote a film or home-video release. Those were really enjoyable, because by the end of the night you've run out of questions and you're just chatting like a group of friends hanging out.
I've also had some great experiences visiting sets. Usually, you're squeezing in whatever interview time you can get when the actor or director is on a break, then they go back to work or to their trailer or something. But there was one set visit where a big-name actor kept coming over to talk to us in between takes. The director would yell cut, and he'd come back to our table until they called him over again. We got more than an hour with him, broken up into little fragments. It's always nice when you feel like they actually want to talk to you.
DM: The thing that I was most engaged me with Buzzworthy, was the your style of writing. I found it really accessible and your voice authentic. As a journalist, having to adhere to a certain writing style, was transitioning to fiction writing a challenge for you or have you written fiction alongside your professional duties as a journalist.
EM: When I started the book a few years ago it was the first time I'd ever written original fiction outside of school. It requires a whole different set of intellectual muscles, but there are some similarities. Already having the discipline of sitting in front of the screen coming up with words really helped me. When I wrote feature stories I would start with the quotes I wanted to use and then build the article around them. So, whenever I got stuck on the book I'd just write the dialogue and let the characters talk to each other for a bit. Then I'd fill out the rest of the scene later. Of the two, I'd say fiction is harder. I'd compare it to jazz, where non-fiction is more like classical. Many jazz musicians can play classical music if you put it in front of them, but ask a classical musician to improvise and they'll balk. It's possible to learn both styles, it just takes practice.
DM: I'm interested to know how you infused your characters with the depth they contain in the story. Was it a difficult process? Did you find yourself trying to avoid certain stereotypes in their portrayal?
EM: The characters progressed so much from the first draft to the last. I started with a vague idea of their back stories and filled the rest in as I wrote. Then I'd go back and revise earlier chapters after I'd decided on some detail about their personality or history that I needed for the story. Nick took the most tweaking, I think. I started out with this notion that he was the typical Hollywood player/bad boy, but that has been done so much already. I tossed that idea out almost immediately. I wanted to do something different. So I made him more guarded and private. He doesn't like the attention, doesn't want to be in the news for anything other than his films. That's more true to life, but surprisingly rare in stories about movie stars.
DM: You sat down with Novel2Screen recently to discuss the novel. I note from that interview, you've talked about more 'in universe' stories. Could that include a future sequel featuring Kate & Nick? Their journey was so compelling that I found myself wondering about their possible futures after turning the last page.
EM: That's an interesting question. Some people have described the book as having an open ending. To me, it's pretty clear where the story is headed. They've conquered their obstacles, so what's left? I don't have any plans for a sequel at the moment, but I wouldn't rule it out if a good story idea came to me. That being said, don't be surprised if there's a passing reference to one or both of them in the next book that confirms where they ended up. I do plan on writing a number of books set in Hollywood and will be using the characters I've already created to populate it. One problem with writing about Hollywood in the current climate is that you never know whether that real-life actor you name dropped will turn out to be a creep. It's easier just to make up my own movie stars, writers, directors, etc.
Buzzworthy is available now from Amazon.
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