Jennifer K. Lafferty's Blog: Authors' Musings

September 13, 2017

The Sara Bareilles memoir Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song is a collection of very open, honest, sensitive essays which focuses largely on the singer/songwriter's career. It provides valuable insight into the music business from the perspective of an aspiring, struggling and now very successful artist. Sara is generous in sharing both her personal and professional experiences. The reader feels they truly know her as an artist and as a person after reading this book.

Sara does an excellent job of expressing her vulnerability, her strength and her passion for the music she creates, as we travel with her through the exciting but often rough and bumpy journey that has led her to realizing her creative vision and achieving stardom on her own terms. The more you know about Sara the more likable and relateable she is.

This book really comes across as a very personal and inspiring gift to her fans, who will get undoubtedly hear even more poignancy in her music after reading it.

Sounds Like Me My Life (So Far) in Song by Sara Bareilles
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Published on September 13, 2017 20:44 • 38 views • Tags: celebrity, music, sara-bareilles

August 26, 2017

This book about Truman Capote and the iconic set of socialites, lead by Babe Paley, he first befriended as a young author, is witty, intriguing and deliciously decadent. The very talented author Melanie Benjamin skillfully recreates New York's high society of the 1950s, which is the backdrop for the majority of the book.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue is an entertaining book on many levels. On the surface it's a fascinating peek at legendary figures and the inner workings of an ultra-glamorous way of life from a bygone era. But the story goes deeper than this. It is just as much about close personal bonds, betrayal, ambition, disillusionment and the sometimes stark contrasts between perception and reality.

It is a book that can be amusingly scandalous one moment wrenchingly poignant the next. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good historical pop culture read.
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Published on August 26, 2017 20:51 • 52 views • Tags: historical-fiction, swans-of-fifth-avenue

August 2, 2017

It's not often that you read a memoir that enchants you, but that's what happened when I read Drew Barrymore's memoir Wildflower. The actress infused her own unique charm in the funny, adventurous and sometimes heartbreaking collection of biographical essays.

With impressive candor and valuable insights that would be difficult to find anywhere else, she takes us through her eventful journey from child star, to wild child, to mature actress/producer, to wife and mother.

Reading this memoir, fans of Barrymore, will come to know her and admire her much more.

The book is not a straightforward autobiography and does not chronicle all the major events in her life. It also jumps back and forth in time, leaving out long stretches of time, so don't expect a traditional autobiography. But if you like Drew Barrymore and want to read a very personal account of her life you should enjoy it.
Wildflower by Drew Barrymore
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Published on August 02, 2017 12:24 • 66 views

July 25, 2017

Into the Water Paula Hawkins followup to her 2014 runaway bestseller The Girl on the Train was highly anticipated to say the least. Fans of the former would likely be pleased with similarities between the two thrillers; such as the sinister atmosphere, the complex, deeply flawed characters, who could easily be either villains or anti-heroes, alcohol-fueled memory loss, and the dark secrets which remain hidden until just the right moment.

As easy as it is to draw comparisons, there are also some striking differences in these two books. While "The Girl on the Train" did have several narrators and focused on the lives of three different women, there was a clear protagonist at the heart of the story, where "Into the Water" is truly an ensemble. With so many different stories and points of view it can be confusing. You definitely have to concentrate on keeping the many characters and events straight. However, it is a well written novel, which cleverly draws the reader in and is never boring.

Set in a small, quaint English town, the main storyline revolves around the river, particularly a part of it known as the drowning pool, infamous for its history of being a place where suspected witches were drowned and later as a suicide spot for a number of local women. The latest females to lose their lives there are a Kate, a 15-year-old girl who appeared to have everything going for her prior to her apparent suicide and Nell, a journalist/author, who has left behind an unruly teenage daughter, Lena, who was also Kate's best friend. When Nell's estranged sister, Jules, comes to town to take over as Lena's guardian, the plot thickens as we learn about the sisters' turbulent past and Jules uncovers shocking information from the past and the truth about her sister.

Jules seems like the obvious protagonist but there is really no central character. It is everyone's story, from Lena, to Kate's grieving mother, to a shady school teacher, a troubled cop, and a few other prominent characters. The book may seem crowded at times but it is worth the read.

Fans of Paula Hawkins should enjoy this hauntingly suspenseful tale that constantly keeps you guessing with dramatic twists and turns.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
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Published on July 25, 2017 20:47 • 44 views • Tags: into-the-water, paula-hawkins, thrillers

July 19, 2017

Instead of writing about someone else's book, this particular blog post is about my new non-fiction book, a double bio titled Movie Dynasty Princesses: Irene Mayer Selznick and Edith Mayer Goetz. Of course I want to promote the project, but I also really want to share the story of how it came to be and why it was important to me to write it in the first place.

Anyone who's read much about the Golden Age of Hollywood is bound to be familiar with the name Irene Mayer Selznick, and probably with Edith Mayer Goetz. These daughters of the iconic MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer played important roles in the life stories of many celebrated people over the years. But when you dig a little deeper, it's obvious that their own lives were just as fascinating as any of their movie star friends or their high-profile filmmaker husbands.

Irene, who married the legendary David O. Selznick, and Edie, who wed Universal mogul William Goetz, were both very ambitious, but neither had the chance to follow her own personal dreams, early on, partly because of the pre-feminist era they grew up in and partly because of their controlling father, who was set against his daughters going to college or getting jobs. But each of these women would go on to accomplish much, and make her own distinct mark on the world.

I started working on this project in a roundabout way. I wrote a screenplay about Irene Selznick's life, which made the finals of the Lake Charles Film Festival in 2016. I found Irene's journey from daughter of the eccentric, larger-than-life Louis B. Mayer, to wife of the brilliant David O. Selznick and eventual career as a hugely successful Broadway producer, irresistible. While sending out queries, one very prominent agent suggested I write a book about the subject matter. I had already been toying with the idea of doing a book about Irene Selznick and her socialite sister, Edith Goetz.

There were so many captivating aspects of their lives that begged to be explored: their infamous feud, unusual childhood as the daughters of the eccentric, controlling Louis B. Mayer, marriages to famous filmmakers, glamorous lives as Hollywood royalty, and most importantly the realization of the sisters' very different ambitions in life.

One of the things I admired about both of the sisters, who,were so different in most other ways, was resilience and their ability to reinvent themselves. Edie wanted desperately to be an actress and seemed to be cut out for it, but when her father refused to allow it, she made a new career out of being the queen bee of Hollywood society, helping her film mogul husband William Goetz in the process. When Irene's marriage to David Selznick fell apart, she went from being a self-sacrificing wife and mother to an extremely successful Broadway producer in very little time, despite the fact that she had no real experience in the theater and very limited involvement in film production.

To me, this is a very inspiring story. Although the sisters had to overcome substantial obstacles to create the lives they wanted, the biggest struggle for both was probably their extremely domineering father. Edie also had to contend with health problems at an early age, which almost prevented her from having a normal life. Irene had to completely change her life and dramatically evolve as a person before she could follow her theatrical aspirations. There was much more struggling to come for Irene, as someone who was not taken seriously because of her gender, lack of experience and background as a Hollywood wife.

I didn't just have one reason for wanting to write this book. I was motivated by my desire to share this extraordinary show business tale, to finally bring these dynamic and exceptional women out of the shadows, to explore their turbulent and complex relationship, and most of all to inspire.

So, after more than a year of writing about these amazing sisters, my book is complete. I can only hope that I have done them justice and that the readers will find their story as compelling and entertaining as I did.
Movie Dynasty Princesses Irene Mayer Selznick and Edith Mayer Goetz by Jennifer K. Lafferty
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Published on July 19, 2017 14:48 • 39 views • Tags: david-o-selznick, hollywood, louis-b-mayer, movies, women

May 1, 2015

Take a look at my article on Popular Family Sagas in Literature on
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Published on May 01, 2015 19:40 • 128 views

December 29, 2014

Check out my new article about Mariana Warner's book Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale Once Upon a Time A Short History of Fairy Tale by Marina Warner.

This book explores where classic fairy tales came from, what inspired them and the meaning behind them.
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Published on December 29, 2014 15:12 • 85 views • Tags: fairy-tales

October 15, 2014

Please check out my article on the book "Taste and See: Experiences of God's Goodness Through Stories, Poems, and Food As Seen by a Mother and Daughter".

The book is an eclectic blend of poetry family stories and recipes:
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Published on October 15, 2014 22:14 • 61 views • Tags: family, poetry, recipes, religion

September 5, 2014

I did an interview with goodreads author Amy Metz about her cozy mystery Murder & Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction two years ago. Now Amy is coming out with a new edition of the novel. So, I thought this would be a good time to share the interview with you again.

August 2012 Amy Metz Interview

Calling all mystery lovers! If you’re looking for something fresh and different you may want to try Amy Metz’s forthcoming novel, “Murder And Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction”, which goes on sale August, 2012. This Southern fried murder mystery in a friendly, small town, full of eccentrics is interesting reading to say the least. The cozy mystery centers on newcomer Tess Tremaine, as she explores a 75-year-old murder, while trying to adjust to her new surroundings and finding love, at the same time.

Let’s find out what Amy Metz has to say about this first book in her new series?

Q: “Murder And Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction” offers mystery, romance and humor. Which of these elements is the most fun for you as a writer?

A: Oooh, do I have to pick one? I really do like all three equally. I enjoy writing twists and turns into a plot and surprising the reader at the end of the book. But I also like writing about budding romances. I workshopped this book on an online writer’s site, and I had fun frustrating my readers/reviewers by writing different ways of pushing Tess and Jack together, followed by different ways of keeping them apart. Toward the end of the book, readers were telling me they’d never forgive me if I didn’t let the two characters get together. And of course love scenes are always fun to write, although I cut a lot of that in editing because this is a cozy. But working my humorous “goosepimpleisms” (southern colloquialisms woven throughout the book) into the story was so much fun, too. In answer to your question, I honestly can’t say I have a favorite. How about, it depends on what kind of mood I’m in?

Q: Would you classify this book as a “cozy mystery?” If so, what do you think sets it apart from typical books of the same genre?

A: Yes, I’d say it’s a cozy. I think what sets it apart is the humor. As I said, I use a lot of southern expressions that I hope will make the characters memorable and make the reader laugh. People ask me how a murder mystery can be humorous. Crime isn’t humorous. It’s the spirit and personality of the characters that are intended to be humorous. It’s the funny things they say and the zany people they are that I hope will make my book unique. One particular phrase comes to mind: He’s a dog of his own trot. That describes most of the characters of Goose Pimple Junction.

Q: As a fellow author, I appreciate the way you refer to your characters as your imaginary friends. Do you think certain characters stay with you, long after a novel is completed?

A: I do. For one thing, I’m currently having an imaginary affair with Robert B. Parker’s Spenser. I finished reading all of the books in the Spenser series over a year ago, but I’m still seeing Spenser. (In my mind, in my sleep, on my bookshelf…) I think that’s what makes a great book—not just the story, but the characters in the story. As authors, we ask readers to spend time with people we have created. If a reader gets so wrapped up in a character they can’t stop reading the book, and they continue to think about the character once they’ve finished the book, then I think the author has done a fine job.

Q: Who is your favorite mystery author? To what extent has your work been influenced by them?

A: I guess it’s no surprise my favorite author is Robert B. Parker. I’ve read every one of his books, some of them twice, and I’m sure I’ll continue to re-read them. I also love John Sanford. Sometimes I cheat on Spenser with Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers. How have I been influenced by them? Gosh, I hope I have, but I can’t pinpoint exactly how. They set the bar pretty high. Their characters are witty, romantic, and heroic, so maybe they influenced me to try to write characters like that.

Q: Do you think writing a good mystery is more complex than writing books of other genres?

A: No, I don’t think so. In any genre, you want the reader to want to keep reading. Whether that’s to find out whodunit, or what happens to the characters, or for the romance, suspense, action, or whatever reason people pick up a book, it’s a challenge to write a story that will captivate the reader. You have to have interesting characters and a believable plot no matter what you’re writing.

Q: Which of the characters from “Murder And Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction” do you most closely identify with, and why?

A: I guess it would have to be Tess, the main character, but only because we’re around the same age. I gave Tess all the qualities I wish I had. I did give her one of my faults though, which is clumsiness. So I can definitely relate to her in that sense. Jack says she could trip over a cordless phone, and that’s certainly true of me.

Q: The murder being investigated in this novel is 75 years old. Non-fiction books about old, unsolved murders and TV shows like “Cold Case” tend to be very popular. Do you think people find these cases more intriguing because they appear to be “perfect murders”?

A: Hmmm…good question. You could be right. I don’t think anybody wants to see a murderer get away scott free. Except maybe for the Dixie Chicks’ Mary Ann and Wanda. Old Earl got what he deserved, and nobody missed him. But usually, there is a sense of fairness at play. It’s just not right for someone to kill the father of four young children and get away with it. That’s what drives my character, Tess, to try to solve the mystery. She’s intrigued with the mystery—they why, the how, the who--but she also wants justice. And I guess it is fascinating to learn how someone literally got away with murder.

Q: The characters in “Murder And Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction” are very colorful. Is it easy for you to come up with characters that are both realistic and entertaining?

A: I don’t know about easy, but it sure is fun. I love creating characters who are totally different from me. I love giving them qualities I wish I had, or ones I’m glad I don’t have. It’s so much fun to make a character say things that are totally outrageous. In Murder & Mayhem, it was fun to create “bad guy” characters, but it was equally fun creating people who are off the wall. I’ve been joking about my imaginary friends and imaginary affairs, but when you lose yourself in a book and begin to care about the characters, you live in their world for a bit, whether you’re reading or writing. My characters almost feel real to me. So if they feel like real people to the reader and entertain them, I’m happy.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with “Murder And Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction”?

A: I hope to entertain people. When they read my book, I want them to feel like they’re in Goose Pimple Junction. How cool would it be if someone told me they were having an imaginary affair with Jack! If I can take the reader to a world they’ve never been, and one they don’t want to leave, if my characters become my readers’ “imaginary friends,” then I’ll be satisfied. And by satisfied, I mean ecstatic.

Q: Where did you get the initial idea for this book?

A: Each chapter in Murder & Mayhem starts with a scene from the 1930s. There’s a bank robbery, two murders, and a case of unrequited love. All of those things actually happened to ancestors of mine. I grew up hearing the accounts of what happened to my father’s aunt, uncle, and grandmother, and I remember thinking, as a child, that someone should write a book about them. Like Tess, I found the mystery very intriguing. I thought it was a story that should be told.

Q: The central character, Tess Tremaine, is something of a fish-out-of-water in this book. Was it difficult for you, as a southerner, to get into the mind set of a non-southerner who is having difficulty fitting in?”

A: No, I needed her not to fit in. Well actually she fits in, she just needs a translator for all of the southern speak the other characters use. Lines like, “Get your straw out of my Kool-Aid,” and “They said grace before they had supper” are funny, but some readers might not know they’re colorful ways of saying, “Mind your own business,” and “They’re living together but not married.” So having Tess be clueless helped me deliver some of the humor in the book. I also write in dialect, and sometimes it’s hard for a “foreigner” to understand what is being said. Having Tess be confused and need an interpreter helped me translate some of the southern speak to the reader.

Q: The town, Goose Pimple Junction, is almost another character in the book. Did you base it on any particular place?

A: Thank you! That makes me so happy to hear you say that. The answer is yes and no. Yes, in that the physical structure of the town—the streets, the shops, and the town green--are loosely based on a combination of small towns: Stars Hollow, where the Gilmore Girls was set; a small town in Alabama where my father lives; and my father’s hometown in Eastern Kentucky. On the other hand, no, it’s not based on a particular place in that the personality of the town and its residents (their crazy, zany personalities) came totally out of my weird head.

Q: What can you tell us about the second book in the series, “Heroes And Hooligans In Goose Pimple Junction”?

A: When Murder & Mayhem ends, a state trooper is introduced into the story, and sparks are flying between Johnny and Martha Maye, one of the secondary characters. When Heroes & Hooligans picks up, Johnny has become the new police chief, and Martha Maye’s divorce is becoming final. Life is getting back to normal in Goose Pimple Junction when Martha Maye’s no good soon to be ex-husband shows up, intent on winning her back. There is murder, mayhem, and crazy Southern humor in this second book also, with a stalker, a philandering husband, and a murderer scaring the living daylights out of everyone in town. The hero, Johnny, has his hands full trying to catch the hooligans and trying to woo Martha Maye. I hope readers like being in Goose Pimple Junction as much as I do. There will be more!

Murder & Mayhem In Goose Pimple Junction by Amy Metz
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Published on September 05, 2014 20:33 • 67 views • Tags: amy-metz, mystery

August 30, 2014

Check out my article on Examiner about Lee Grant's revealing show business memoir "I Said Yes to Everything", which chronicles her struggles to get her career back on track after being blacklisted
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Published on August 30, 2014 16:24 • 53 views • Tags: hollywood, lee-grant, politics

Authors' Musings

Jennifer K. Lafferty
Jennifer K. Lafferty, author of Movie Dynasty Princesses, reviews a wide range of books and discusses various aspects of contemporary and classic literature.

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