The Girls Behind Girl

I know some of you can’t join S&S’s Pulse It site as there are age requirements, so I thought I would re-post my blog from last Monday. I’ll do the same all month.

One question I get a lot on my book tour, is, where do you come up with your ideas?

I always answer: “From the In and Out Burger!” And it’s not even too much of an exaggeration, since my book Angels on Sunset Boulevard, was actually inspired by a trip to the local In-and-Out on Sunset Boulevard. My husband and I walked in at around midnight, and I was just shocked by all the kids in the place—every kind of teen from Beverly Hills princesses to Echo park skaters…it was a really cool scene. And some of the kids looked REALLY young, like eleven or twelve years old (which shocked me: I came from a family where we were ALWAYS in the house, there was no “It’s 10:00 Do You Know Where Your Kids Are?” kind of thing. My parents knew the answer to that question: IN FRONT OF THE TV! In fact, I don’t even remember being allowed OUT of the house at night until…well, until they dropped me off at college in the middle of New York City and said “HAVE FUN!”). Anyway, seeing all the kids out made me think…what are they all doing here? And what if the reason why the kids are all out at midnight is…THEY’RE IN A CULT! So Angels was born…

For GIRL STAYS IN THE PICTURE, for the character of Livia, the producer’s daughter who gets stomach-stapling surgery and becomes a hottie, I was inspired by a girl I interviewed for Seventeen magazine. I used to be a freelance journalist before I wrote books full-time, and one of my assignments was to write about a teen who had undergone gastric bypass or stomach stapling surgery. I met with her and her mom right after they had performed the surgery—they were staying in a hotel near the hospital, since they lived far away from a good doctor who wold do it. The girl was sixteen years old and over three hundred pounds. She’d had a trauma in her childhood—a major operation on her spine, where she was confined to her bed for almost an entire school year. The doctors explained that that kind of experience can lead to obesity, when you’re a kid and you go through a major operation like that, and bed rest for a year, you can get depressed, and you can begin to lose your ability to figure out when you have to stop eating…

Anyway, I was very moved by this girl and her story. And one thing that always struck me was that at sixteen, she had to GIVE UP all her favorite foods: because her stomach wouldn’t be able to digest different kinds of fats and carbohydrates—for instance, she could never have ice cream EVER, without getting sick, or chocolate, or potato chips. I thought that was a HUGE sacrifice to give up at sixteen years old, don’t you? But that’s what you have to do..Anyway, the weight came off so fast…she was down 90 lbs six months later and now is a normal weight of about 115 lbs or so (she is five-foot-two). Healthy, happy, and never able to eat ice-cream again.

It just stayed with me…what if you could have the body you always wanted, but you had to give up some of the simple pleasures of life? Would it be worth it?

As for the other girls who inspired girl, well it’s not too big a stretch to figure out Devon was inspired a little by Rihanna with a little of the Lindsey Lohan-mess in her, and Casey came from reading about Jessica Simpson and her BFF and assistant, CaCee Cobb. That relationship always struck me as so interesting… work as a slave to your best friend? Really? Aren’t friendships more “equal” than that? There had to be some kind of power politics in that, didn’t there?

Hope you enjoy the book and see you next Monday!