While I was out in Palm Springs baking in 114 degree weather a couple of weeks ago, alternating between a pool and an air conditioned rec. room, I took along an advanced reading copy of Margo Candela's new release GOOD-BY TO ALL THAT, due to be released July 13th, and totally loved it.
Margo's writing style is unique, and I always enjoy reading about her unpredictable characters who are placed in very cool settings that are unfamiliar enough to intrigue me.
So today, I'm happy to share an interview with Margo, but first, a little about the book.
"Margo Candela combines a cunning wit with a deep understanding of the office politics specific to the entertainment industry to create a frantic atmosphere and a near breathless momentum as the story barrels toward an ending that's anything but your focus grouped happy fade-out." --Publishers Weekly
“Candela captures the ups and downs of Hollywood in her appealing send-up of the cutthroat side of the industry.” –Booklist
Raquel Azorian has worked her way from temp to executive assistant and is this close to a promotion when her boss suffers a very public meltdown that puts not only his future in Hollywood, but also Raquel’s on the line.
It’s not just Raquel’s professional life that’s a mess, her whole family is in turmoil and Raquel is forced to become the intermediary—all while trying to figure out how to save her job and not derail her office romance with the man of her dreams. Unfortunately for her, the clashing of her personal and professional life is making that rung hard to reach for. When the chaos of juggling so many lives reaches a breaking point, Raquel realizes she’s going to have to choose—success at work or happiness at home. Whatever choice she makes, Raquel knows it going to cost her, but part of her is still pulling for her very own Hollywood ending.
JA: Tell me how you would describe Good-bye To All That to those waiting to read it.
Margo: The book came together for me when I conceptualized it as Working Girl meets Mad Men with a dash of Entourage. That movie and those two shows really sum up the world that Raquel, the main character, is living and trying to succeed in. It’s the funny, frustrating and highly fictionalized story of young woman trying to make it at a Disney-esque type of company while trying to keep her family from falling apart.
JA: What made you want to write a Hollywood industry novel?
Margo: I moved back to Los Angeles from San Francisco in 2005 and realized just how different the two cities are. In San Francisco, when I’d tell people I was a writer, they’d ask if I was published or what kind of writing I did. In L.A. everyone automatically assumes I write for film or TV and then they ask why I’m bothering with books. There’s just a different mindset here and a lot of it is influenced by Hollywood. Everyone is supposed to have a fabulous life and washboard abs, but that’s not the case. When I started to think about Good-bye To All That, I knew I wanted to write a novel about a young woman who let her job take over her life and I wanted to explore the non-glamorous side Hollywood.
JA: How much research did it involve, and how much of the craziness reflects real life?
Margo: I did a lot of listening, question asking and observing of friends who have desk jobs in big companies. I didn’t feel like work for me because I have a thing for office life. I find it fascinating and I’m lucky that friends were willing to share their workplace horror stories.
JA: I know you're a screenwriter too. Have you written a screenplay to Good-bye To All That?
Margo: I’ve written three screenplays so far, but Good-bye To All That is too fresh for me to consider tackling. It’s not easy to adapt your own work and most writers advise against it, but for me it was an opportunity to take a look at my books from a different perspective. The script I wrote for Life Over Easy is currently being read by producers and I’m really proud that I got it to a point where it can stand alone as a movie and still have the essence of the novel. I’ve also finished a draft of an original screenplay, but my preference is to write novels.
JA: Wow, that's exciting! Good luck with those. When you do get around to adapting GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT, and Hollywood snatches it up, who would you like to see play Raquel, Kyle, and the parents in a motion picture?
Margo: Jessica Alba would be perfect for Raquel. She’s smart and sexy, but I could see her dressing down and doing a hardworking Raquel justice. In the book Kyle is a smart and slick very attractive redhead so I’d have to go for Ewan McGregor. I was thinking about his charm and sex appeal when I wrote the Kyle character.
JA: Great choices! I liked Raquel's parents and their conflict. In some ways, they were typical Latino parents, but in many ways they were not. Were they based or inspired by anyone you know?
Margo: Let me state for the record that Marlene, Raquel’s mother, is in no way shape or form based on my mom. Her father is also nothing like my dad. I have no idea what kind of person I would have grown up to be if I had parents like Marlene and Robert. What I tried to do is see her parents as people, not just as Raquel’s mom and dad and give them traits and issues that arose from them being individuals. I will admit that there is a little bit here and there in all my characters of people I’ve met and know, but I’m always very careful not to borrow too much from someone’s real life. Using other people for novel fodder is one sure way to get yourself disinvited from Thanksgiving dinner for the rest of your life. Personally, I like turkey too much to risk making anyone I care about angry at me.
JA: Very good point and an important one to make. I don't know any writer who bases their characters on actualy people, just general traits that are common to people in general. Which brings me to Raquel who wasn't typical, stereotypical, or predictable at all, which was why I liked her so much. I felt bad that none the men in her family, personal life, or at work seemed to be there for her. Reason?
Margo: The book takes place in a time in Raquel’s life when men and romance aren’t on her radar. She’s kind of given up on having a relationship and is instead married to her job. She and her job have the perfect relationship because, for the most part, she’s getting what she wants and sees a bright future on the horizon. When her boss has his breakdown, she realizes she’s truly on her own. She can’t hide behind her job or depend on anyone to do theirs so she can continue to succeed at hers. I like to think that she’ll find the right guy. It just couldn’t happen while she was trying to sort out her work and family life. She had enough on her plate without throwing in the love of her life.
JA: I felt like the story wasn't over for Raquel. Are there plans for a sequel?
Margo: A sequel for Good-bye To All That would be great fun to write. I’d get to delve into a different part Hollywood and of what makes the industry tick. It would also give me an excuse to hang out at parties, raw food cafes and colonic spas for ‘research.’ But for now, I’m content to let Good-bye To All That stand on its own. My next book will also be set in Los Angeles with a whole new cast of characters and their issues.
JA: I look forward to any all your future books, Margo. And if you decide to write a sequel to GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT, I'll go with you to those parties and raw food cafes, but I'll skip the colonic spas - LOL. Thanks for a great interview!
Bloggers, please leave Margo some questions or comments for an opportunity to win a copy of GOOD-BYE TO ALL THAT. I'll draw a winner from one of the comments on Sunday night.