Everything Books
Writing and reading and books, books, books (and anything that might relate)

January 23, 2013

The Guilty Pleasure

I once read that Charlize Theron, while filming the movie Monster, cleared her mind after long and grueling days on the set from the intensity of playing a serial killer by watching The Bachelorette.

When I was working on my first book, my mother was working on her third, the first comprehensive biography of photographer Edward Steichen. It was then that she introduced me to the necessity of having at least one guilty pleasure, but preferably more, to sustain me throughout the long, grueling, solitary process of bringing a book to life. Her big guilty pleasure at the time: Baywatch.

I have certain guilty pleasure staples which have helped me through the writing of several books— Supernatural, 90210, The Bachelor, Revenge, and, most recently, Ghost Adventures. Currently, I’m working on more than one project, but the largest and most time-consuming and brain-draining is the rewrite and extensive edit of the fourth Velva Jean novel, American Blonde.

Ghost Adventures is a kind of “reality” Hardy Boys, featuring three paranormal investigators from Las Vegas, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin. (Zak’s the muscly, ghost-taunting leader, Nick the poker-faced one, and Aaron– my favorite– is the bald, bearded one who gets easily spooked.) The show first aired in 2008 and, in its eighth season, remains the Travel Channel’s highest rated series.

Using night vision cameras and various ghost-hunting equipment, the trio is famously locked down from dusk till dawn in such spooky locations as the Lizzie Borden House, the Edinburgh Vaults, the Winchester Mystery House, the Eastern State Penitentiary, England’s Hell Fire Caves, and various asylums, hotels, nightclubs, lighthouses, and frontier towns with dark and twisted pasts. They’ve even visited Loretta Lynn in her haunted Kentucky home, and talked to the ghost of Johnny Cash while visiting his Jamaican plantation. Each episode is comfortably similar– Zak taunts and bosses both the ghosts and his crew (and sometimes gets possessed), Nick doesn’t smile and invites the spirits to “use my energy,” and the ever-affable Aaron is used as bait.

It’s wonderful. While I’m watching, I don’t have to do a thing. No research, no outlining, no coming up with ideas and storylines out of thin air, no writing, no editing. For that precious hour (or two, depending on how many episodes I go through), I just turn my brain off and let the guys entertain me.

Next to the sometimes chill-inducing shadow images and EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) they often capture, the very best thing about each episode is the sordidly fascinating in-depth history they relate about each place– the only ghost investigation show to do this– and Aaron’s wide-eyed reactions.

So thank you, Ghost Adventures, for seeing me through this stressful time. You’re a much appreciated healing balm for an overextended mind– a kind of brief spa break for the girl who doesn’t have time to go to the spa.

Have any guilty pleasures? Please share them! And enjoy this little clip from the show:

March 1, 2012

The Things That Help Me Write (or: Thank God for “Supernatural”)

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , , , — jennifer @ 2:22 pm

When Judy Garland was just a talented teenager at MGM, she worked a very demanding schedule– sometimes 18-hour days, one after another. To keep her going and to ensure she would be able to perform, MGM supplied her with sleeping pills so that she could rest between scenes, and then, when it was time to roll the cameras again, they would ply her with amphetamines to wake her up.

Thankfully, I haven’t ever used either, but there are certain things that do keep me going when I’m working a grueling schedule. And right now I’m working a very grueling schedule–producing, writing, editing, designing, outfitting, directing, scoring, and starring in a trailer for the book; editing the first pass galleys of Becoming Clementine; continuing to research (when time permits) and outline the Hollywood book; writing the Hollywood book; doing publicity/promotion for past and future books; and redesigning my website, among many other things– which is why I haven’t blogged a word for over a week.

So, in no particular order, these are some of the things that are helping me through (aside from my boyfriend, my mom, my cats, my hilarious and loving family, my friends, my readers, and my ever-supportive and encouraging literary agent):

Supernatural (few things help inspire or comfort me more than watching the super-hunky Winchester brothers hunt monsters and battle demons– it’s perhaps the one thing that seems harder than writing)

Exercise (namely: Physique 57)

Google breaks

Singing songs into my best friend Joey’s voicemail

Things to look forward to– whether it’s getting together with friends or an upcoming Charles Boyer film on TCM or a walk around LACMA with my boyfriend at the end of our work day

Our new car– the cutest, sexiest Mini Cooper S you ever did see

The Bachelor and my Tuesday morning discussions with Mom during which we analyze the show (and the people on it) at great lengths

The Walking Dead (See Supernatural comments above, only in this case, of course, sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes and company have to battle zombies)

The anticipation of John Carter

Stepping out into the CA sunshine at least once a day

My new office desk chair (no more back pain!)

My new office reading chair (see above)

The never-ending gratitude– even in the face of tremendous deadlines– that comes from knowing I’m getting to do what I love to do

The knowledge that someday, many, many months from now, I will have a break.