If you’re anything like me, the first time you heard about Lauren Conrad she was “LC” on MTV’s hit reality series “Laguna Beach.” She later got her own show with “The Hills” — and after leaving TV, Lauren focused on her work in fashion and also started writing. She’s already released three books in the L.A. Candy series, and this week she released the first book in a spin-off series, The Fame Game.
Lauren took some time out of her busy book tour schedule this week to chat with me by phone about her books, fashion, and — in typical Novel Novice form — other random topics!
We all know that your L.A. Candy and now The Fame Game series — though fictional — were inspired at least in part by your own experiences with reality TV, namely MTV’s “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills.” In some way, do you view the books as a sort of Hollywood cautionary tale?
I don’t think so. I think it’s more of a story that just gives people a sneak peek behind the curtains of Hollywood.
A lot of readers have likened your L.A. Candy character, Jane Roberts, to a fictionalized version of yourself. Did you feel any freedom getting away from that character and focusing on Madison for The Fame Game?
I don’t think so. I think it has the same backdrop as the first series, and all these characters live in the same world. But I had told Jane Roberts’ story, so it was time to tell a new one. And it was really fun because I got to tell it from a completely different point of view.
What was the most fun part of exploring Madison’s character separate from the L.A. Candy storyline?
I think it was just getting into the head of someone who is just shameless with their own publicity and image.
A lot of your former co-stars have gone on to careers in film and television, but you’ve gone the other direction — focusing on fashion and your writing. What made you go in that direction?
As far as fashion, that’s something that I always wanted to do since I was young, so that was just a career path that I’d been on for so long. Writing was something that I had always really enjoyed doing, but growing up I had this idea in my head that I had to pick one. So the fact that I got to do both and still do, has been really great.
I don’t know, to be honest, since I just started doing it again. It’s a little overwhelming to think of going beyond that. One of the nice things about these books is it’s just easier to write about a world you’re more familiar with. You write what you know. I think this is just, as far as filling in little details, and just knowing little things you would only know if you were there, it’s just easier that way.
A lot of authors have certain “required” things they need when they’re writing. My friend Suzanne needs candy corn. I know Kami Garcia needs her diet Coke. Do you have any writing must-haves?
That’s so funny … Not really, I mean, maybe caffeine. I usually, when I’m working on the books, it’s in my bed, late at night. But I don’t really have any strange habits that I like to do.
Your Style Guide also just came out in paperback, and it provides lots of timeless fashion advice. But a lot of your readers are teens or young women, and are on tight budgets. What sort of budget-friendly advice do you have for being stylish on a tight budget?
I think it’s just to invest in classic pieces. Whether it’s a really great shoe that I get re-soled once a year, or a really nice bag I bought myself. I have certain pieces that were more expensive, but I wear them throughout the season. I think when it comes to trendier pieces, that’s where you go the more budget-friendly option.
Your L.A. Candy and Fame Game books are now part of this booming world of YA lit. Are there any books out there right now that you’re hooked on?
The last book that I read was The Hunger Games, so, everyone’s read that recently. I wanted to read it before I saw the movie. I really liked that, I’m actually in the middle of the second one.
That segues perfectly into my next question, which is about The Hunger Games. Obviously, it’s huge right now. Author Suzanne Collins has said she was partly inspired to write the books because of the blurring lines between reality and television. Many have even called her books a critique, in part, of reality TV. Having been a part of reality TV yourself, what are your thoughts on that approach?
Well, I think it’s a very extreme example. I just see where some people could think that, because you’re sort of entertained by other people’s pain, and I think that happens sometime in reality television. But I think the biggest difference is, when you’re on reality television, you’ve signed up for the experience. But in The Hunger Games, they’re just selecting people.
Is there anything you miss about being on TV regularly?
Really, the only thing that I miss is the people that I got to work with. That was really fun. It was fun to go to work everyday and be with really good friends. But as far as the lifestyle, and the way it affected not just me, but the other people in my life, I don’t really miss that part of it.
Private concert: who’s playing?
Oh gosh. Ooh. I’m so bad at this because I don’t really have a favorite band. Most of the time I’m seeing music it’s because my roommate just dragged me to a random show, because she goes to show every other night.
I usually do veggie pizza, so lots of different vegetables.
Is there a book you can’t stop re-reading?
Not really, no. I mean, the only book that I’ve ever done that with is The Great Gatsby, but I’ve only read it a couple times. I think I always prefer to read something new, there’s just so many great books out there.
Living or dead, who would you like to have dinner with.
Oh, these are good questions, I wish I had good answers. Living or dead? You know, I think it would be Coco Chanel. I think that she was just such an amazing woman and she pioneered so many important trends in fashion that are still in use today.
Perfect vacation is probably Cabo. I love going to Cabo, that’s my favorite place to go to.
You’re on book tour now, so what is one best and one worst thing about being on book tour?
The best thing is getting the opportunity to meet all the people that are buying the book and speak with them. It’s such an amazing experience, I love the experience. And the worst part is, I am so tired!
Thanks to Lauren for chatting with us during her busy book tour! Here’s where you can catch her over the next couple weeks:
Thursday, 4/5/12: BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
Barnes & Noble
800 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02119
Monday, 4/9/12: LEXINGTON, KY
161 Lexington Green Circle
Lexington, KY 40503
Tuesday, 4/10/12: KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Rainy Day Books offsite event
Unity Temple on the Plaza
707 W 47th St
Kansas City, MO 64112
Wednesday, 4/11/12: PORTLAND, OREGON
Barnes & Noble
12000 SE 82nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97266
Wednesday, 4/18/12: NAPERVILLE, ILLINOIS
123 W. Jefferson Ave.
Naperville, IL 60540
Thursday, 4/19/12: AUSTIN, TEXAS
603 North Lamar
Austin, Texas 78703
Friday, 4/20/12: SOUTHLAKE, TEXAS
Barnes & Noble
1430 Plaza Place
Southlake, TX 76092
Saturday, 4/21/12: HOUSTON, TEXAS
Blue Willow Books
14532 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079
Tuesday, 4/24/12: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Barnes & Noble
189 The Grove Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90036