Today, it’s my turn to host a stop on the blog tour for Reality Rehab and it’s my pleasure to welcome author Lisa Mary London to the blog with a brilliant guest post about celebrity memoirs.
Author : Lisa Mary London
Title : Reality Rehab
Pages : 275
Publisher : Ivan Berg
Publication date : July 13, 2017
Faded TV star Gloria Grayson has hit rock bottom. Sacked from her starring role in a top soap, divorced from hell-raising actor ‘Mad’ Tommy Mack, and obese from binge eating, her days as Britain’s sexiest blonde are well and truly over.
Gloria has gained 70 lbs when a paparazzi snaps unflattering photos and a cruel tabloid article relaunches her career. Instantly she and her fat, feisty dog Baby-Girl are booked for TV’s Reality Rehab.
Gloria is locked up with an American psychotherapist, a rabble of D-list celebrities and umpteen cameras, then put on a starvation diet. But worse is to come, with the shock arrival of her alcoholic ex-husband.
Tears and tantrums ensue as the divorced couple’s joint therapy sessions take over the show and ratings soar. The other celebrities are infuriated to be sidelined and Reality Rehab fast becomes the Tommy and Glo Show. But Gloria and Tommy are hiding explosive secrets from each other and 10 million viewers.
Celebrity Memoirs – Fact or Fiction?
My new novel Reality Rehab is a satire on reality TV and the cult of modern celebrity. Celebrities have always fascinated me. I guess that’s why the minute I qualified as a journalist on a sleepy Cotswold newspaper, I headed to the bright lights of London to work as a TV producer on entertainment and chat shows.
I’ve been privileged to meet literally hundreds of celebrities in a 20 year career working behind-the-screen on prime time TV shows. Seeing the real star behind the make-up (figuratively and literally), is a rare privilege and sometimes, an eye opener.
Perhaps not surprisingly, my preferred reading is celebrity biographies and autobiographies. People say “But how can you believe a word a celebrity says in their autobiography? They’re bound to sugar coat the truth to make themselves look good”. A fair point of course, and for this reason many prefer those unauthorised, unflattering biographies written without the famous subject’s consent.
But I believe the way a celebrity presents their life story and themselves, whether in a book or in person, can be very telling. In my experience, famous and powerful people often reveal fundamental truths about themselves totally unintentionally in the most subtle ways. I long ago learned to disregard the false currency of face value and reserve judgement on people – whoever they may be. I trust my instincts on what a person shows, rather than tells me, and I flatter myself I’ve developed a good steer.
I was recently browsing You Tube late at night and stumbled on an ancient audio book of the late actress Joan Crawford’s 1971 autobiography. Title: ‘My Way of Life’, Miss Crawford read the book herself, all six hours of it. And what a treat it was!
Her melodic voice soothed me to sleep over three consecutive bedtimes, the jangling of her bracelets as she turned the pages almost persuading me she was in the room. I was mesmerised as she spoke of her glittering movie career, her wonderful children, her beautiful clothes, her tastefully decorated homes and her tips on beauty, deportment and etiquette. Most touching of all were the affectionate passages about her late husband Pepsi millionaire Alfred Steele, who had tragically died of a heart attack aged 58. Her voice trembled with emotion, as she described the pain of his loss just four years after they wed. I adored every perfectly enunciated word.
You Tube was on autoplay and with spooky irony, the next recording was another audio book – this time, the infamous memoirs of Joan’s eldest adopted daughter, Christina. It was the same story of course – but ‘Mommie Dearest’ was told very differently!
Christina pulled no punches and with a steady voice and clear delivery, described her late mother Joan’s child abuse. I lay in the dark listening to harrowing accounts of Joan Crawford’s violent rages, cruel physical attacks and decades long, irrational grudges. It was chilling stuff and compelling enough to convince me of its truth.
Unlike Joan’s glossy version of the same years, I had no desire to listen to the end and had to switch it off. Christina claimed her stepfather Alfred Steele hadn’t died of a heart attack at all, but perished after mysteriously falling down the stairs at home. Cynics might reflect on the fact Joan Crawford was an Oscar-winning actress! The two books presented the movie star in stark contrast, one as heroine, the other as villainess. The truth no doubt lay somewhere in between. And don’t we all, to an extent, ‘choose’ our own truth?
My novel Reality Rehab started out as a non-fiction book, memoirs entitled: ‘I’m a Celebrity Booker… Get Me Out of Here!’ A jaw-dropping account of my TV career, the book was chock-a-block with juicy stories about famous and infamous people I had worked with. There was a buzz about it, my anecdotes featured as a two page spread in the Daily Mail and a top literary agent took me on, confident it would sell. But no publisher would take the bait, fearing a libel suit. The solution was to share my celebrity gossip in fictional form, and so Reality Rehab was born.
Reality Rehab explores the current world of television and celebrity, so inevitably it names checks around 200 real stars. But the fictional characters I’ve created are ‘real’ too, based on all kinds of genuine stars and TV executives I’ve known over the years. I think that gives the book an authenticity that could only come from a TV insider. And presenting a fictional account gave me the freedom to write more honestly than I could have done, were I naming names.
Those remarkable, talented and charismatic individuals I was so blessed to spend time with have imprinted on me and can all be found, in some shape or form, in the pages of the book. If Reality Rehab is even half as entertaining as the real people it’s based on, I’ll be a very happy author. Because as my extraordinary experiences in television have taught me, reality is stranger than fiction!
Thank you so much Lisa for this brilliant guest post! And many thanks to Emma Mitchell for the opportunity to join the tour!
Reality Rehab is available now!