Interview with Carla Hanna, author of the bestselling Starlet’s Web Series
for young adult fiction readers.
Link to the Starlet’s Web Series on Amazon:
Matthew Toffolo: What is the general theme and tone of your novels?
Carla Hanna: The Starlet Series of young adult novels is the ‘Breakfast Club’ meets ‘Clueless’ in a social media world. The interaction of children of celebrities who attend Santa Monica High School explores Hollywood’s influence on identity formation. The first four novels are fictional memoirs of a teen actress. Starlet’s Man shows the perspective of a humble high school athlete caught up in Santa Monica culture without the wealth of his industry-insider peers.
MT: Why should people buy your novels?
CH: Any fan of a celebrity or an industry-hopeful should read the Starlet Series to get a realistic understanding of the competition and power in the entertainment business.
MT: How would you describe your novels in just two words?
CH: Realistic inspiration
MT: What movie have you seen the most in your life?
Ch; A Room with a View
MT: Was being a novel writer something you’ve always dreamed of doing?
CH: I didn’t have a drive to be an author. Instead, I wanted to tell a story about the world I saw when I lived in wealthy, celebrity-filled Santa Monica, California and to challenge my readers to think about Hollywood’s influence on not just Western culture but our world’s homogeneous pop culture of racial stereotypes, romanticized sexual expectations, and violence in films.
MT: Do you have an all-time favorite novel? Have you read a novel more than once?
CH: Any nonfiction book by Michael Lewis has left me shocked and wiser about the game-of-business in which he writes. Whether Lewis tackles Wall Street or professional sports, he shows the corruption and greed of the players but also the humanity of the institutions we are all dependent upon.
MT: What motivates you to write?
CH: Like Michael Lewis, I wanted to expose the brutal business-of-Hollywood and its influence on both the insiders and on the viewers. In the Starlet Series, I reveal the way the awards-business works so that viewers can put some pressure on the entertainment business to change how we all perceive beauty, race, success, and love. We can see the hate and stereotypes that movies incite at the same time that we enjoy watching them.
Now we need to push back on the “suits” and demand change. I thought that if I created a fictional actress’s memoir, I could reveal her flaws and vulnerabilities and show her small-world, closed-group entitled perspective. Liana is likeable like Zendaya and Hailey Steinfeld but I also show that what we know of our celebrities is carefully planned brand-management. If we lose sight of the business and working crew behind the story, then the messages and stereotypes can influence us too much.
MT: What artist would you love to have dinner with?
CH: I have no “star-stalking” intentions. When I lived in Santa Monica, my kids played with celebrities’ kids. So I’d chat with Reese Witherspoon at a casual dinner and thank her for being an amazing person to me, a nobody-stranger with two kids in diapers. On several occasions she gave up her seat at a busy restaurant for me and my baby.
MT: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
CH: My children are absolutely delightful and I want to enjoy every minute of the free-time with them. I like taking them on adventures.
MT: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
CH: I chose to self-publish my series because the young adult book market is saturated with soft erotica and I didn’t want to write a sex story even though I know it is in high demand. I’m tired of the weak-willed, drug addicted, sex-seeking film star. The Lindsey Lohan trope doesn’t interest me. Instead, I want to explore how diversity and perception of beauty in film and TV affects the audience.
My advice to other writers is to know your writing goals before you start pitching your story. Do you want a NYT best seller? If yes, build upon a “hot niche” and then pitch your concept to an agent before you finish your novel. Do you want to make a statement? If yes, explore your ideas on Wattpad or on your blog and develop a story based on what you are most passionate about.
About Carla Hanna:
Carla Hanna is the author of award-winning young adult romance and coming
of age fiction novels for readers who enjoyed Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to
Remember, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, Gayle Forman’s If I Stay,
or John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.
A former housewife of Santa Monica, California, Ms. Hanna shares an
insider’s perspective on Hollywood and celebrity influence in her
LOVE. LIES. ACTING. THE STARLET SERIES.
Starlet’s Man – High school student athlete, Manny Biro, is caught between
the boy he should be and the man he wants to become.
Starlet’s Web – Hollywood entangles talented teen actress in a web of lies.
Starlet’s Run – In a world where an actress is a product and everyone is a
critic, can young love survive? Should it?
Starlet’s Light – Young Hollywood actress is ‘so done’ with acting. She
gives up the fight until she sees the light.
~ STARLET’S WEB GOLD MEDAL: 2014 Readers’ Favorite International Book
~ STARLET’S LIGHT SILVER MEDAL: 2014 Readers’ Favorite International Book
~ STARLET’S MAN SILVER MEDAL: 2015 Readers’ Favorite International Book
~ STARLET’S WEB GOLD MEDAL WINNER: 2013 AUTHORdb Book Cover Contest! ~
~ STARLET’S WEB WINNER: January 21, 2013 IBD AWARD! ~
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to http://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.