After 20 years on Days of Our Lives and six seasons hosting The Biggest Loser, Alison Sweeney turns her busy hand to fiction, with The Star Attraction, a winning debut.
Have you always written fiction?
No. This novel was my first attempt. I’ve always been a creative person, and I initially wrote it for myself, the majority of it in 2005. I was feeling frustrated by the story the show [Days of Our Lives] was telling. My process was very much like an actor’s: I wrote scene studies and character breakdowns. I left it alone for a long time. Two years ago, my agent asked me what other stuff I wanted to do and I went, “Well, I wrote this book,” and he almost dropped the phone. He asked if he could see it and if he could sell it. I was blown away that it really happened.
How did you come up with your protagonist, Sophie, a Hollywood publicist?
My best friend, whom I met when she was an intern at NBC, is a publicist. The book isn’t really about her, but she was certainly the inspiration. Three of my good friends were in publicity at the time I was writing this, so I understand why PR is important, and I would hear these crazy stories about actors who just don’t get it or don’t want to get it. My idea is to talk about Hollywood and actors but through the lens of a different job perspective. There are so many jobs that touch that glamorous world. Obviously the book is fiction, but a lot of stories in the book are things that my friends have talked about. There’s a lot of truth hidden in the story.
Are you a reader of chick-lit? This novel is a fun read, but also quite substantive.
Yes. I love good chick-lit. I have high standards. As an actor, I find characters who have depth and multiple levels interesting. Sophie is a fun person, but I wanted to tell a story about a girl who has darkness in her and legitimate flaws that make her life more difficult. I didn’t want to keep it all light and fluffy. I wanted to create someone who people would relate to. It allows her lightness, and you really do cheer for her at the end.
Are you writing more fiction?
I’m working on a second novel. The process is very different now that I have an agent and a publisher, now I have people to answer to. But I want to remain true to my vision for the second book. You’ll see some of the same characters. I like the idea of creating a world with people who you love and relate to, and you see them pop up as the books continue. It’s true of Hollywood anyway. Everyone knows each other.