Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Dollface Interview: Gigi Levangie Grazer

You may (or may not) recall that I ran a website called Conversations With Famous Writers and interviewed many, many fantastic authors. I gave it up to focus on my own writing and to work on Hello Dollface. From time to time, I'll feature good books and the occasional author interview. I love reading, I'm always reading something. Sometimes, two books at once. And I have contacts in the publishing world so if I can get an author interview, then I am thrilled.

I enjoyed Gigi Levangie Grazer's novel Queen Takes King and am excited to post my interview with Gigi below. Let me ask you this, do you enjoy reading about rich people? Do you want a peek inside the world of the wealthy inhabitants of Manhattan? Are you in the mood for a page turning novel with a satisfying ending? Does the idea of the queen beating the king at the high stakes game of divorce pique your interest? Then Queen Takes King is the book for you! I tore right through it, enjoying every page. I think I even laughed out loud a few times.

I'll admit it, Gigi has the kind of success I am working towards. Her books have been made into movies starring the talented actresses Debra Messing and Sarah Chalke. Gigi has written both novels and screenplays, she's executive produced, and she's a mom. Maybe I should mention she's also got a great sense of humor and is positively gorgeous too.

Why did you chose a ballerina as Cynthia’s former profession, as opposed to say, a model or actress? Do you have experience as a ballerina?

In my mind, Cynthia Hunsaker Power, my lead character, was a socialite with an artistic past. I saw her as a woman of delicate build, almost ethereal, not unlike Audrey Hepburn. Someone with a swan neck. I wanted her to also have substance, to have something internal going on, besides her standing in the New York power strata. So I made her a ballerina – but a very promising ballerina who was forced to give up her career.

I don’t have any experience as a ballerina – but I have taken ballet classes and been completely inspired and intimidated.

Do you enjoy doing the press tours or do they get tiring? Also, how do you decide what to wear when you are on TV? Do you travel with a hairstylist, makeup artist, and personal stylist to get you ready? Not to mention a chef, yoga guru and shaman.

I really enjoy press tours, because I get to meet so many new, interesting people. I am so touched by the people who show up at book signings, despite everything that’s going on in their lives. I love their questions, and I absolutely love encouraging those nascent writers in the audience to keep going. On the other hand, I really do like the writers’ life, which takes place on a more internal, sequestered level. Frankly, I love being tethered to my desk.
I don’t travel with anyone except my kids – they’re a blast, and they keep me distracted from the sheer terror of doing a media tour. Also, we get to visit places I wouldn’t normally visit – like the Spy Museum in D.C. My kids were deeply fascinated with the rectal tool kit.

How involved were you in the productions of Maneater and The Starter Wife? I saw both and really enjoyed them, especially Sarah Chalke and Debra Messing, two great comedic actresses.

My involvement with The Starter Wife and Maneater was mainly working with our terrific writers/producers on their initial drafts and casting the main roles. There was no need for me to micro-manage – I didn’t have to, because our writers were spot-on in terms of tone, humor and pathos. Also, I loved working in casting and meeting so many talented, funny actors and actresses – and to see your lines come alive is thrilling. (And, I got a lot of great tips on where to get hot shoes, on the cheap!)

Sarah Chalke and Debra Messing are both wonderful. When we landed Debra Messing for The Starter Wife, it was really a dream come true. First, she’s beautiful, and I thought she played the part perfectly – with exactly the right balance of humor and poignancy. She’s just a total star. Sarah is of that same ilk – she has great timing, she’s gorgeous, and she can play any emotion. She’s a multi-dimensional talent. You have no idea how rare these actresses are until you start casting.

I want to know some of your favorite beauty brands and products. What do you use on a daily basis?

I love Ponds! That’s probably my all-time favorite moisturizer. And I always use sunscreen.

How long does it take you, from start to finish, to write a novel?

Queen Takes King took about three years. The Starter Wife took a year and a half, same for Maneater. Rescue Me probably took a year. I write pilots and articles and screenplays in between. I also Twitter and Facebook, which means I may not write anything else, ever again.

Describe yourself, five words:
Worried(!), emotional, brave, warm, empathic.

What can we expect from Gigi Levangie Grazer within the next year?
Next year: Napping. And a sequel to The Starter Wife.

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