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1. Nina and Nathan are two very young, beautiful and talented people in a town that worships—and capriciously discards—the young, beautiful and talented. Is it truly harder to maintain a marriage in Hollywood than Anywhere, USA?
2. Nina shelves her own career as an actress in order to help her Nathan achieve his goal for movie stardom. In this case, why is it possible that such a sacrifice have driven them apart, instead of keeping them together?
3. Nina takes on a second job as a phone sex operator, because it’s one of the few lucrative night jobs that will allow her to stay home with their son Jake. Is the sacrifice worth it?
4. In the book “O” is Nina’s name for her phone sex alter ego. What are the personality differences between the two? Why do these traits emerge when O is on the phone?
5. Sure, O’s clients love to hear her talk dirty. But their biggest attraction to her seems to be the emotional intimacy she is able to establish with them . Why would this be the case?
6. Two syndicated gossip columnists play big roles in the break-up of Nina and Nathan’s marriage. Discuss the dynamic that gossip and the media can have on a very public marriage.
7. Despite being the homewrecker in this case, how was Katerina, the actress who is Nathan’s lover, able to gain the public’s sympathy?
8. Sam, Nathan’s agent, is a Hollywood player who can have any woman he wants. So, what makes Nina more appealing that the other women in his life?
9. Agents play intricate—and intimate—roles in their clients’ lives: they are deal brokers, friends, and father figures. However, his role as agent dictates that does what he can to secure the best roles possible for his clients, in projects that have already attracted other celebrated actors and directors. However, Sam feels guilty for putting Nathan in the predatory Katerina’s path. Discuss the stereotype of the Hollywood agent as shark might differ from the more realistic role that agents play as powerbrokers and client advocates.
10. Nina takes a second stab of making her marriage work. However, certain issues still have not been resolved. Discuss what they are, and why they might make-or break—any marriage.
JOSIE BROWN TALKS ABOUT "IMPOSSIBLY TONGUE-TIED
How did you come up with the premise for this book?
I love writing “glam lit,” a tongue-in-cheek look at glamorous lives. As a journalist who has done celebrity interviews, it comes naturally to me. At the same time, I wanted this Hollywood satire to be written from the point-of-view of a very young up-and-coming actress who is willing to do anything to keep her husband, and eventually herself, in the game. I also wanted her to have an opportunity to turn the tables on those in Hollywood’s power positions. I truly believe that sex is one area in which women can control men—if they choose to do so. And phone sex allows any woman—particularly one who has a sultry voice and a way with words—to have men, even powerful ones, eating out of the palm of her hands, figuratively if not literally.
At the same time, your heroine, Nina Harte, is a small town girl who dives into Hollywood’s shark-infested waters and survives the ordeal. Is that plausible?
Heck yeah, It happens every day! Reese Witherspoon, from Nashville, TN, is a perfect example. Like Reese, Nina is a straight-A student with drive and ambition. Also like Reese, she married young, to a guy in the same field whose talent she also believed in, and immediately had a child.
But Reese never had to take up phone sex in order to survive.
Ha ha! The good news for Reese is that she is one of the lucky few who, very quickly, got on the path to success. But the truth of the matter is that, in that field, the Reese Witherspoons are few and far between. I know actresses who have been waitresses, nannies, pole dancers—and yes, even phone sex operators—while waiting for their big break.
In IMPOSSIBLY TONGUE-TIED, the phone sex isn’t so much lascivious or blatant as it is titillating and down right funny. Is that the way it is in the real world?
Many phone sex operators will tell you that the callers they get are just lonely guys looking for a woman to pay attention to them. Sure, many of their clients want them to talk dirty, and of course they know the phrases and words that do the trick. In fact, many men will tell them exactly what they want to hear—with some improvisation, of course. Is that a turn-on for the women who do it? Let me put it this way: a lot of them claim to do their household chores at the same time, because there is no feeling behind these dirty words. Or, as Shakespeare once said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…”
A good phone sex operator knows the right phrase to get a caller hot and bothered. A great phone sex operator will keep the caller emotionally titillated as well, which will lead to longer calls, and for that matter, more money in their pockets. And that’s the bottom line.
What is truly frustrating for Nina is that this is only one of two jobs she juggles in order to support her family—her husband, Nathan, and her four-year-old son, Jake. Isn’t that a bit unfair?
In most marriages both partners may work, but one may take on the role as primary breadwinner so that the other can focus on a personal goal. Hollywood marriages are no exception to this: a female realtor may be married to an actor, or visa-versa; a successful actress may be married to a struggling screenwriter; a male producer may be married to a struggling actress. Considering the vagaries of Hollywood, the role of the breadwinner can flip on a dime. In a happy marriage, we appreciate our partners’ support when they offer it, and applaud their successes as if they were our own.
In addition, in IMPOSSIBY TONGUE-TIED, Nina makes the choice to put her own dream of stardom on hold in order to make ends meet. When Nathan finally makes it, he dumps her for his diva co-star. That seems like a typical Hollywood ending.
Sad but true. Many stars have left their spouses once they’ve made it, or perhaps the couple has grown apart because they can no longer relate to each other. The ones we hear about the most, though, are the couples in which both are high profile: like Brad and Jennifer, or Nick and Jessica.
However, this story has a Cinderella twist: Nina is trying so hard to save the guy she thinks is her Prince Charming—her bad boy husband—when in reality Sam Godwin, the agent Nina finds for Nathan, comes to both their rescue: he facilitates the career trajectory that unfortunately ends the Hartes’s marriage, but is also there to support Nina emotionally, when she need it most.
Just like in the real Hollywood, the gossip columns play an integral role the dissolution of the Nina’s marriage.
Yes, and I have to say I had a heck of a lot of fun imagining the machinations of the competing columnists digging for scoops, and the manipulation of the press by Katerina’s handlers. In fact, some of the first pieces I wrote were the gossip items that are sprinkled throughout the story. Developing Baxter and Serenity’s media voices was a blast.
Nina’s other job is that of cashier—or “concierge”—at an upscale Beverly Hills grocery store. Your description is truly over the top, what with the way in which she babies the clientele there. Does such a place exist?
[Laughing] If it doesn’t, it should! No, in fact, it is a conglomeration of several upscale stores—and, I’ll admit it—my ideal of the ultimate grocery experience. Hey, if grocery stores don’t have concierges to do our bidding, maybe they should consider it, right?
Would a guy like Sam—a powerbroker, a Hollywood player who could score any honey he wants—really fall head over heels in love with a normal, sweet girl like Nina?
When we quit believing that love at first sight is possible—sans collagen, Botox, and plastic surgery—then we may as well quit writing romantic comedies—which means Reese Witherspoon will have to do phone sex to make ends meet…Nah, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, do you?
ABOUT JOSIE BROWN
Josie is also the author of the novel TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES, as well as LAST NIGHT I DREAMT OF COSMOPOLITANS, the fashionista's ultimate humor dream dictionary; and co-author, along with her husband, Martin, of MARRIAGE CONFIDENTIAL: 102 HONEST ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS EVERY HUSBAND WANTS TO ASK, AND EVERY WIFE NEEDS TO KNOW.
She is a feature writer whose relationship articles and celebrity interviews have appeared in national magazines. She is also the editor of the internationally syndicated John Gray's Mars Venus Advice column, and the co-editor of the Relationship NewsWire. Josie lives in Marin County, California with her husband and her two children.
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If you'd like me to join your book club's conversation on TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES or IMPOSSIBLY TONGUE-TIED, or to learn the inspiration for some of my scenes, then have me attend your book group via teleconference! To arrange the time and date, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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