posted at Sunday, December 7th, 2014 at 8:00 AM | Blog Tour
Hey readers! I’m really excited to have Alison Cherry on the blog today to talk about her brand new book For Real. I read it last month and had a total blast doing so. If you want to check out my thoughts on the book, my review went up Friday here. Now here’s some info on the book, with the last paragraph of the blurb spoiler-tagged, because I personally think it’s spoilery.
Description: No parents. No limits. No clue what they’re in for.
Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister’s shadow. While Miranda’s life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality TV.
When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just before her college graduation, it’s Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They’ll outshine Miranda’s fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.View Spoiler »But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may or may not be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life… or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what’s for real? « Hide Spoiler
Now, without further ado, here’s Alison! GIFs were added by yours truly.
Which of your fictional reality television shows do you most wish actually existed?
TwinCognito, no contest. The premise of the show is that identical twins switch lives and try to trick their families/friends/bosses into thinking they’re each other. The whole thing is filmed with hidden cameras, and each week, the twin who fools everyone the longest wins. I honestly can’t believe shows like Britain’s Worst Celebrity Driver actually exist, but this one doesn’t. It seems like such an obvious idea! (Besides, it has the best name. Years later, I’m still patting myself on the back for that one.)
If you had to go on a reality television show, which actual show (doesn’t have to be currently airing) would you go on? How about of the ones you invented?
I think the only show I could reasonably compete on is Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, which aired on Bravo for two glorious seasons before it got canceled. I majored in photography in college, and watching that show was a lot like observing the nutball people I had class with every day, but with the added benefit of not having to interact with them. I feel pretty confident I could hold my own on that show for at least a couple episodes without making a complete fool of myself. It might even be kind of fun.
Of the shows I invented, I think I’d do best on Catwalk, “the definitive pet fashion show.” Not sure how much my cats would appreciate it, but I’m all about making adorable costumes for them and winning money in the process.
Throughout For Real, there are a lot of local marriage customs from various countries. What was the strangest tidbit you came across that didn’t make it into the book?
In Ukraine, couples burn effigies of their matchmakers at their wedding ceremonies. In South Africa, it’s traditional for the families of the bride and groom to take turns chanting insults at each other—I picture it as a sort of bridal rap battle. But I think my very favorite is that after a wedding ceremony in Korea, the groom’s friends strip off his shoes and socks, tie his ankles together, and beat the soles of his feet with dried fish.
How boss are the ones in South Africa? LOVE IT.
If you were on Around the World, who would you want to have as your partner?
In 2006, when I was working in theater, I had this coworker named Jacques. He was, without a doubt, the most competent person I’ve ever met—he could fix anything, build anything, and solve any problem, he always had whatever random thing you needed in his bag, and he was completely unflappable in the face of a crisis. I desperately wanted to hire him to run my life forever and ever. If I could track him down and convince him to be my partner on Around the World, we would definitely win a million dollars.
This would definitely be my reality show strategy.
The characters on the show travel to a whole bunch of awesome foreign locales. Which of them have you visited and are there any of the activities you’d really like to do? (Carrying a pan of water through a market, right?)
Of the four foreign countries my characters travel to, I’ve only been to Scotland! I don’t want to be spoilery, but the thing that happens with the sheep near the end of the book actually happened to my friends while we were there. (I’ve also seen the world’s biggest terra cotta fountain in real life, and I agree with Claire—it’s not particularly awe-inspiring.) Of the other locations, I’d be most excited to go to Greece, but if I were to pick one of the challenges, I would definitely pick the elephant-decorating Claire and Miranda do in India.
Gotta watch out for those elephants.
What would your limerick be if you played the Limerick Game with your own name?
This would be me on any travel show:
There once was a lady named Cherry,
who found plane flights incredibly scary.
She put in her vote
to instead take a boat,
and then she threw up on the ferry.
Are all the pop culture things you reference personal favorites? Most importantly, are you a fan of Joss Whedon? If so, which is your favorite?
They’re not necessarily my favorite things, no—Claire really loves Doctor Who, and I could take or leave that show. But yes, I am a huge Joss Whedon fan! It’s pretty hard to choose between the glories of Buffy and Firefly, but I think I have to go with Buffy, if only because it was such a seminal cultural experience for me. I didn’t really watch TV at all until I graduated from college, and Buffy was the very first show I watched all the way through. I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing all that time.
Firefly allll the way.
I read your blog post about how this book required a massive rewrite. It sounds like it originally wasn’t going to be an Amazing Race-style plot. I’m very curious what the first draft had Claire and Miranda doing, if you’re willing to share!
Yes, the first draft of this book was completely different! It wasn’t a book about being on a reality show at all—it was a book about the ridiculous and rigorous process of auditioning for reality TV. In the original plot, Claire and Miranda auditioned for three different shows. The first was Jack of All Trades, where contestants compete in a completely different field every week—they might have to cut hair on the first episode, snowboard on the second, and bake complex desserts on the third. The second show was Hive Mind, where a group of contestants live in a house together and compete in cooperative challenges against groups of social animals, like hyenas and meerkats. The third show was Around the World, for which Claire and Miranda made it to the final round of auditions in LA, but they were disqualified at the last second when the producers found Claire’s blog, which violated the studio’s nondisclosure agreement. About a third of the book consisted of her blog posts, which were written in screenplay format. I don’t know why I didn’t just put the sisters on a show to begin with—auditions are pretty interesting, but traveling around the world is infinitely moreso. Fortunately, I have a brilliant editor who has an uncanny ability to see everything a book could be, even if it’s not the book I give her the first time around. I was pretty devastated when she told me to trash virtually everything I’d written and start again, but the book is so much stronger for it, and I’m very grateful now!
This is sort of how I envision Alison’s writing process. Gotta write; hold the dance parties.