Q&A Vanessa Stubbs

5_16 Vanessa StubbsVanessa Stubbs is an entertainment and fashion reporter for MX newspaper, and has interviewed many Hollywood actors, including Daniel Craig, Hugh Jackman and Denzel Washington. She has also worked as a News Limited journalist as a general reporter and medical reporter for the Daily Telegraph. This is her first novel.

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Are you a plotter or a panster?

My first book was written panster-style and my second I plotted. With Star Attraction I only knew how it was going to end in the second last chapter. I’m not the kind of person who can read a book twice, so I like the thrill of not knowing. I think this must apply to my writing as well. Even my second book ended up having a big twist that I didn’t see coming at all, so it has a bit of panster action happening as well. Someone highly literate whose name escapes me once said that you know your book has legs when your characters start to say and do things you don’t expect. I think panster is where the magic probably lies.

What comes first the plot or the characters?

In my work as a journalist I did an interview with author Elizabeth Gilbert. She told me that sometimes she starts talking to her characters, asking them what they want and to show her where to go. I started doing this once and my four-year-old daughter started talking back to me (no, not really). It was kind of cool but I’m not sure that my characters are quite so forthcoming with me. I think the plot- the interesting and fraught scenario comes first and then I kind of have the essence of a character come fully formed. Madison in Star Attraction is headstrong and upfront. Jamie is a good guy but a little blurry and weak around the edges. I think I knew that about them from the first page but then they start to reveal themselves to me more as I write.

How do you come up with the titles to your books?

I find them very tricky. Star Attraction started off its life as ‘The Adoration of Strangers’. I still love that title but when Penguin acquired it the one thing my publisher said she didn’t like about the book was the title!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

One of my characters in Star Attraction is very vacuous and bimboish and I spent an unhealthy amount of time cyber stalking Paris Hilton trying to work out her third dimension. I failed.

What would we find under your bed?

Lots of dusty books and magazines. But I’ve just been given a Kindle, so that’s about to change….which I’m kind of sad about because I love real books. Having four books by your bed makes you feel way smarter than a slim electronic device. But times are a changing…

What group did you hang out with at high school?

Early in high school the nerdy group, for sure. We were the ones sitting there quoting ‘The Princess Bride’ and pretending we hadn’t studied when really we had been up late with our noses in text books. In my final years I had a group of four amazing friends who I think were the best group of girlfriends I’ll ever have in my life. I’m still in contact with three of them but we never see each other as a group anymore and I still miss that dynamic.

Do you have a favourite quote or saying?

I find myself saying ‘This too shall pass’ a lot. I think as you get older you start to realise that everything is cyclical. Life changes constantly. Sometimes you don’t even want to be involved anymore, other times you’re floating on lolly gobble bliss bombs. And then there’s the in between times, when you’ve just got to hoik up your pants, get some perspective and be grateful for what you have. I think we’re on rotation between all of them and if you’re patient, good things, great things, will come back around.

What makes you happy?

My husband and daughter, cake, a long stretch of time with only writing to fill it, beautiful shoes, solving tricky plot problems while walking, cups of tea, dance classes, holidays, stories, enough sleep.

What are you favourite TV shows?

Does anyone not say Game of Thrones?! I’m also partial to Mad Men, Girls, Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, and for some local content, Offspring. TV is so amazing right now.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do?

They wouldn’t need to be anyone famous or spectacular. I think each one of us has an interesting story to tell if someone really listens. I often think how weird it is that everyone you know or have ever met (except maybe the babies soon to be born) will be gone in 150 years. Yes, I know this is a little morose but it helps me when I’m in stressful situations such as job interviews or pressing send to my agent with my completed manuscript. I would love to show someone from 150 years ago an iPhone and Google, show them Barack Obama, take them to scan their own groceries at the supermarket and get them internet shopping and on an aeroplane. I would tell them about the wars that are still raging around the world. I would like to sit down with them and listen to what their perspective on our world now is. It would be so enlightening.

5_16 stubbs book coverHe’s the most famous and most desired man in the world. She’s a hard-news journalist trying to keep her job. When Madison Edwards is sent to interview Jamie Hall, as far as she’s concerned, it’s an annoyance and an embarrassing blot on her credibility. As far as Jamie is concerned, Madison is a rude ambulance chaser, just one of the thousands of people who want a piece of him. Both of them turn out to be wrong.

A moving and bittersweet story about celebrity culture – and about falling in love, even when the whole world is watching.

Buy the book at Amazon.

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