March 20, 2008

Finding Hollywood Nobody ***

*** Finding Hollywood Nobody, Lisa Samson, 2008

Reading a Hollywood Nobody novel is like spending an afternoon with Lisa Samson. That's how it feels.

True confessions time. I've read everything Lisa has published since The Church Ladies (2001), having been turned onto Lisa by Snyderman at our first meeting in a coffee shop in Nashville. Her novels are not exactly what you would expect a reader of dead white guys to be consuming, but I am an eclectic reader, consuming good writing, regardless of the genre, and Lisa is a good writer. So, I find myself reading stuff completely out of my demographic just because. I'm just saying.

I first hooked up with Lisa when we both won the Christy award the same year, me in the First Novel category for Welcome to Fred and her in the Contemporary category for Songbird. (Although The Living End, which came out the same year and was also a finalist, should have won. It is my favorite Lisa novel. The Wunderfool List of top three Lisa novels goes like this: Living End, Straight Up, Club Sandwich. Hollywood Nobody is in a separate category. )

Then a few years back I stopped by Che Samson in Lexington, KY on a winter/spring weekend while on business travel. I spent a pleasant afternoon with Snyderman in Nashville, then drove up to Lexington and got snowed in for two days, hapless guest of the very gracious Samson clan as ice formed on the inside of the windows and Lisa and I sat with our laptops in the warm room and wrote in silence, occasionally exchanging comments as she worked on the beginnings of the Hollywood Nobody project. It was a magical time I will never forget.

So, at this point you're thinking, "This guy, who slept shivering with his clothes on in Gwynnie's princess bed with Little Mermaid purple gauze hanging around because the Boston airport was closed for two days, can't be objective where Lisa's writing is concerned." Wrongo, bucko. I can like the person and not the writing. I do it all the time.

OK, here's the deal: The Hollywood Nobody series is a Young Adult (YA) series. I say, "So what?" It's entertaining stuff. Scotty, the protagonist, is a highly engaging character and once you get her vibe, you're in for the ride and that's it. I devoured the first Hollywood Nobody novel and was highly displeased to have to wait for the second. I pre-ordered it on Amazon, but when it came in my daughter snagged it. I got it back just this week. I read it in two sittings.

The first sitting, I read the first few pages and thought, "Hmm, I'm not getting that Hollywood Nobody vibe. Where's the magic?" The next time I picked it up, I was hooked in a few pages. At 1:30am I thought, "I should go to bed." I actually got to the top of the stairs, turned off the light, and opened the bedroom door to tiptoe into the bedroom to avoid waking The Woman, when I had an epiphany. Or rather, a conversation with Me, Myself and I.

Me: What are you doing? Myself: Going to bed. It's 1:30 am for crying out loud! I: Because? Myself: Well, it's late. Me: And what's on the schedule tomorrow? Myself: Uhh. I have to get some work done on the day job. I: Doing what, exactly? Myself: Writing a brochure on Fibre Channel over Ethernet. I: Due when? Myself: Whenever I decide to finish it. Me: So, nobody cares if you get up at 8 am or 11 am. Myself: Well, yeah, pretty much. I: So, why aren't you finishing that Lisa Samson novel tonight? Myself: Uhhhhh . . . . Me: You know you want to. Myself: Well, duh!

So I went back downstairs and finished the novel around 3 am. When I hit page 152 I freaked out and there was no question of going to bed at that point. I was in for the duration and boy howdie, shoot I reckon! As they say.

Reading a Lisa Samson novel, any of them since 2001, is a treat. (I must confess that, even though in a moment of bonhomie she gave me one, I haven't read the early-days romances and that's probably the best for everyone concerned.) But in the Hollywood Nobody novels I feel that vibe of hanging out with Lisa. And it is a good vibe, folks. I have two actual sisters. They rock each in their own way. But they're not writers. If I had a sister who was a writer, I would want her to be like Lisa. Heck, I'd want her to be Lisa.

I also have a copy of Embrace Me. I haven't started it, and I don't know anything about it. But you'll be hearing about it soon. Heck, I might even start it tonight. It's only 2am. What have I got to do that's so important?


Jeanne Damoff said...

I share your sentiments about Lisa and her writing. Embrace Me arrived this week. I had to put it out of sight for a while, because the cover wouldn't stop beckoning me away from obligations. And as for Finding Hollywood Nobody? Well! I'm sure you can imagine how I feel about that one. Talk about "hanging out with Lisa." That's probably the closest I'll ever come to a biography, and seriously, who could ask for more?

Awesome writer and awesome friend. Lisa deserves every honor that comes her way.

Brad Whittington said...

Heck yeah!

I got to the end of Embrace Me this week. It's painful to see something knock The Living End out of the Number 1 Lisa Samson novel spot, but I think this one does it. Review to follow one of these days.