1. Great chunks of Charlotte Dent were written while I was working as a legal assistant at an insurance company in 2006. I had to cover the switchboard for an hour each day; the computer at the reception desk didn’t have Microsoft Word installed on it, so I’d open up a blank email, type my first draft directly into the body of the email while answering phones, then send the email to myself at the end of my shift.
2. Two agents from two well-established agencies simultaneously offered to represent Charlotte. I considered, then made my decision. My chosen agent and I chatted happily back and forth via email about the book for a week or two, discussing changes and strategy. He was awesome and fun! We were on the same wavelength! Then he abruptly broke off communication. Wouldn’t answer emails, wouldn’t return my calls. I waited for far too long, but I never heard from him again. I have no idea what happened; he’s still at the agency, and his reputation, as far as I can tell online, is spotless. I felt too ashamed and foolish to go back to the first agent and ask if her offer was still good, so after that promising start, I never did find an agent for Charlotte. In retrospect, this seems exactly like the kind of thing that would happen to Charlotte herself.
3. Charlotte Dent was a semi-finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) in 2008, which was the competition’s inaugural year. Four years later, my novel Bias Cut would also become an ABNA semi-finalist. I have warm and fuzzy feelings towards ABNA.
4. As part of judging for ABNA, Publishers Weekly reviewed the then-unpublished manuscript of Charlotte Dent, very kindly calling it “a crisp, fun treatment of Hollywood life.” They also described it as “perky” and “chick lit”, which surprised me a little; I’d thought I’d written a melancholy, introspective book about fame and identity. As it turns out, I was wrong.
5. I eventually published the book myself in 2013 with my own publishing company, Luft Books.
6. The book’s theme may be found in the title: “Charlotte Dent” is a near-homophone for “charlatan.”
7. Though it deals extensively with celebrities and the film industry, Charlotte Dent is not a roman à clef: None of the characters are based on real-life individuals. Charlotte’s sometimes-boyfriend Simon probably looks a lot like Ioan Gruffudd, though.
8. Like Charlotte, I was once cast in a play that got canceled right before performances started. It was for the best; I was pretty awful in it. I had to do a fake English accent, and trust me, nobody needs to hear that.
9. Like Charlotte, I lived in Los Angeles without a car. Unlike Charlotte, I lived in Los Angeles without a car for twenty years. Los Angeles is surprisingly easy to navigate on foot.
10. Like Charlotte, I was once stopped by a famous director while I was out walking in Los Angeles. He asked if I was an actress and gave me his phone number. This is a true story! I’m not special, nor am I especially cute; this sort of thing happens in L.A. a lot. Nothing ever came of it—I think he realized pretty quickly that I would be a mediocre actress—but it made for a fun anecdote.
When struggling actress Charlotte Dent is cast as a leggy killer robot in a big, brainless summer blockbuster, the subsequent hiccup of fame sends a shock wave through her life. The perks of entry-level celebrity are balanced by the drawbacks: destructive filmmakers, online ridicule, entitled costars, and an awkward, unsatisfying relationship with the film’s fragile leading man. Self-aware to a fault, Charlotte fights to carve out a unique identity in an industry determined to categorize her as just another starlet, disposable and replaceable. But unless she can find a way to turn her small burst of good fortune into a durable career, she’s destined to sink back into obscurity.
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Genre - General Fiction, Chick Lit
Rating - PG
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