Tuesday Book Club – Justine Lewis’ Acting The Part
I know it’s Friday and not Tuesday, but when you have such as wonderful guest of this one – please meet Justine Lewis, my guest today on the purple couch. Her latest title is a contemporary romance, Acting The Part.
Welcome to the the blog! And let’s find out a little more about Acting The Part:
Blurb – Acting the Part
Poppy Greenwood needs money fast. Her estranged father, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, has promised to help – on the condition that she work on the set of his next movie. Although Poppy despises the world of show business, she has little choice but to agree.
Hot-shot director Max Madden has an Oscar in his sights. He needs this film to be a success but an overblown budget and a difficult cast are ruining his plans. Not only that, but the Executive Producer’s daughter has arrived to spy on him. To keep a close eye on Poppy, he insists she work directly for him.
But as they work together on location in southern France, the temperature begins to rise. Max knows the boss’s daughter is definitely off limits – and Poppy does not want a relationship with anyone in the industry. Yet against their better judgment, an intense chemistry begins to build…
You’ve covered my three favourite subjects in one! Romance, the film industry and a little bit of history as well since the movie being filmed is on Eleanor of Aquitaine. How did the story emerge for you?
This story began when I wondered how the children of celebrities cope with their famous parents. My heroine has rejected her parents’ show business world until circumstances push her back to it. Working on a film set is just about Poppy’s worst nightmare.
Thinking up an idea for the film that was to be shot was the fun part! I wanted the fictional movie to be a story or a book that readers might be familiar with—not something completely made up. But thinking of a well-known story that hasn’t already been made into a movie was a challenge. Eleanor of Aquitaine has always fascinated me and once I decided the movie would be about her the rest of the story began to fall into place, including the French setting, medieval castles and Max’s own background.
Are you involved in the film industry in any way? What type of research did you do on Hollywood movie-making?
I’m not involved in the industry at all! Apart from being an avid celebrity follower, I’ve never been close to movie set.
The internet is always great, but two books were particularly helpful: The making of Pride and Prejudice, by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin is a great book about the making of the 1995 BBC mini-series. It was very helpful on all things movie-making and I got to indulge my Pride and Prejudice obsession some more.
As I was editing Acting the Part, I read As You Wish, by Cary Elwes, his recent memoir of filming The Princess Bride, one of my all-time favourites. It was a fun read for a die-hard fan, though they seem to have had much easier time making The Princess Bride than they did making the movie in my book.
Tell me about Poppy, she has a very complex relationship with her father, doesn’t she?
Poppy was born from an affair between her mother, a young up-and-coming movie star and her father, an older, married film producer. Her parent’s relationship was short and they split when Poppy was a baby, breaking her mother’s heart. Poppy doesn’t know her father very well at all. She is fiercely loyal to her mother and blames her father for abandoning her mother.
And Max, did you model him on any of the great Hollywood directors past or present?
No, any similarity between Max and any Hollywood director is pure coincidence! I wanted Max to challenge Poppy’s prejudices and he simply began from there. I first imagined Max as a young child who was drawn to movies to escape his lonely childhood.A loner, he has always loved imagining and creating new and interesting worlds. But he’s also very ambitious and is driven by the fact that he’s always felt like an outsider in Hollywood.
You’ve set the filming in the south of France. Why that location in particular as opposed to, for example Hollywood/ Los Angeles?
Filming a movie on location is more difficult than filming on set—the logistics and the weather can play havoc with your schedules—and I wanted to make life as difficult as possiblefor my characters. The location shifts to LA in the second half of the book to mix things up a bit, but I enjoyed writing the scenes in France the most.
Eleanor of Aquitaine was such a magnificent woman and one can’t think of Eleanor and film without thinking of Katharine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter. Was that a consideration when describing the action on set?
Not specifically, I’ve read a lot of biographies of Eleanor and I was reading Alison Weir’s novel, The Captive Queen, when I wrote the first draft. The Lion in Winter is a classic and features an episode from Eleanor’s later life when she is imprisoned by her husband and battling with him about their sons.
My fictional movie is about the period in her life thirty-odd years earlier when she creates a enormous scandal by daring to leave a loveless marriage to her first husband, King Louis VII of France, to marry his rival, Henry of Anjou, the future Henry II of England. I’ve always loved the romance of this story and can wonder endlessly at the sort of courage and daring that it would have taken her to do that.
Tell us about your next project.
I’m working on a few other short romances, including a ‘prequel’ to my first book, The Secret Prince.
Acting the Part – excerpt
‘You’re not even interested in movies?’ The thought that someone might not find them as fascinating as he did had his curiosity piqued.
‘I like watching movies. I like eating sausages, but I don’t want to see how they are made.’
Max had to laugh, but he rose to the challenge. ‘The big screen? Drama? Tragedy?’
‘My life has enough of those already.’ She lifted herself, ready to leave.
He wasn’t finished. He should be making the most important movie of his life, but he was letting himself become side-tracked by red lips and a sassy bottom. This movie should be cementing his future in Hollywood. Instead he was trying to outwit and out-manoeuvre the boss’s daughter.
He placed a hand on her arm. It was warm beneath his fingers. He watched those luscious lips fall slightly.
‘Comedy? Romance? Got enough of those?’
Acting the Part – links
About the author
Justine Lewis is an author of contemporary romantic fiction. She grew up in Canberra, Australia and after travelling overseas and living in Europe for a time, she settled back in Canberra with her husband and young family.
She has spent her professional life writing legal advice – which some may say is similar to creative writing – but the lack of sexy heroes and happy endings led her to try writing romance. She has placed in the finals of Romance Writers of Australia writing contests, winning the Emerald Short Award in 2014.
She loves Earl Grey tea, talking about which of Jane Austen’s novels is her favourite, and searching for the perfect frock. She will read anything, but loves romance most of all.