How did you two meet?
We were working together on a clip show (or retrospective as the fancy people now call it). We bonded over our love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Chick Lit novels & Nutella.
Why did you decide to write a book together?
Well, we had the same pop culture sensibility…and we could read…and write… and maybe we were completely naïve about how much bloody work it would take?
How did you find the time to write while working full time in TV production?
It was a challenge to say the least. We tried writing on weeknights but it was hard to find that motivation when we were getting home from work so late. So we devoted our Saturdays to writing & our Sundays to reviewing. Don’t get Marla’s husband started on it.
How much of the book is true?
Some. We’ve tweaked many situations to protect the innocent (or not so innocent), our friends and ourselves (damn those confidentiality agreements). Early drafts featured more “secrets” (okay fine, it was a bit of a burn book) but once we realized it could actually be published and that we still needed to work in TV for a living, we removed most of the more dangerous elements and fictionalized the rest.
What was the writing process like?
It was very difficult at first. We actually thought we could just cuddle up together with a computer and make magic. Example of early writing session:
Marla: What do you think she should say here?
Natalie: Um…I dunno. What do you think?
Marla: Hmm. Let me think…
Natalie: I just don’t know…this is hard.
Marla: Yeahhhh. Wanna go bake cookies?
Natalie: Yes, please!
Luckily we learned the beauty of detailed outlining and it became much, much easier.
What’s it like working in reality TV?
It varies depending on the production company, the show, the schedule and the people we are working with. If two (or fingers crossed, three) of the four are good – it’s generally pretty fun! If all four are bad…get ready for hell. Let’s just say, we both run in terror from the expression “six day week.”
What’s the difference between being a TV producer and a novelist?
Well, besides the obvious… in our role as TV producers we’re completely anonymous, we can hide in our story department caves and construct a show. So it wasn’t too different from our experience of writing the book…until we realized we had to actually sell the mother. And unfortunately, neither of us excel at the art of self-promotion in our lives (and who needs to when you can wear jeans to work everyday). So as writers who need to actually promote their novel, we’ve had to actually put ourselves out there. And that can be a little scary and uncomfortable at times but ultimately much more rewarding because it’s for us.
What are your favorite reality TV shows right now?
I enjoy Top Chef in its many forms, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and I often partake of Ghost Adventures. I can’t help myself.
I’m with Natalie. I love me some Real Housewives of any city, and for me, America’s Next Top Model will never get old.
What’s your best celebrity sighting?
Back when I was working for a very successful writer/director he was meeting with several actors in order to cast his next starring role. He had told me that Brad Pitt would be stopping by the next day. Since I’m a LA native, celebrities don’t really phase me. However, for this particular situation, I thought I’d shelve that persona and show my enthusiasm. I guess I was a little TOO enthusiastic since the next day I was told that perhaps I should take a “long lunch” while Mr. Pitt came to the office. Ummm, no. Up to that point, I had perceived myself to be fairly professional in my day to day workings at this job, but this was just too much to bear. There was no way in hell I was going to miss out on meeting Brad Pitt. So, after some begging, bargaining, and oh yes, a foot-stomp and a fist on a desk later…I was allowed to meet the man himself. And what did I do? Stutter, giggle, and shake during the entire encounter. Let’s just say after that, my boss did his meetings outside of the office.
About a year ago, a friend and I went to a bakery down the street from my apartment. There was a distinctive looking man sitting with two women in the corner. He was heavy, balding and looked like a cross between an accountant and a studio executive. He also looked incredibly familiar to me. After a couple of covert glances, I realized that he looked exactly like a heavy, balding Tom Cruise.
When I pointed him out to my friend, she looked over at the threesome and replied: ”Odd, that’s his sister.” I’m not sure how she recognized Tom Cruise’s sister, but she keeps up on such matters. So I looked again (discreetly of course, over the rim of my coffee cup, as we do) he had the trademark smile and the piercing eyes… it absolutely had to be Tom Cruise. Then the double whammy of familiarity hit me. It was actually Tom Cruise dressed as Les Grossman from Tropic Thunder. I relayed the intel back to my friend and she confirmed that there was indeed a Les Grossman movie in the works and he’d probably just come from Paramount.
After a few moments, Les/Tom stood, carried his plate over to the counter and walked out. Some of the other patrons did the double take of recognition as he walked by. It was surreal and very interesting to note that it was probably easier for Tom Cruise to eat cake wearing a fat suit and make-up than it was for him to just be Tom Cruise out in the world.