From one of America’s most beloved television actresses: A sharply observed, comedic novel about the flipside of fame—and a fresh take on Hollywood in all its outrageous, entertaining glory.
On the outside, Kate Keyes-Morgan seems to have it all: a starring role on the hit television series Generations, a handsome husband who is also her manager, a stick-thin figure, and a career that, after a Kirstie Alley-style slide, is finally back on track. At the age of thirty, Kate knows what it’s like to have the tabloids turn on you, and she never wants it to happen again. Thank goodness her husband, Hamilton, is there to manage her every move—even if the strict dieting and morning weigh-ins are becoming more than she can manage.
But when Hamilton leaves her for another actress on Generations, the ruthless diva Sapphire Rose, Kate suddenly finds herself in charge of her own life. Now she must decide whether she’s ready to stop playing by the Hollywood rulebook and discover who she really is. With the help of her wise-cracking friend and tough-love hairstylist, Paige, and Michael, a high-powered film agent who secretly dreams of becoming a novelist, Kate begins to question her role in an industry that venerates appearance, money, and fame above all else, and that applies ceaseless pressure on women to always be thinner, younger, and more beautiful, at any cost.
From high fashion to on-set antics to the real-life whispers about celebrities that even the tabloids never tell, Courtney Thorne-Smith depicts the entertainment world as only an insider can. Yet beneath the glamorous facade lies a natural-born writer with a gift for comic timing and shaping memorable characters. If you’ve ever wanted to experience life in the spotlight or wondered what goes on behind dressing room doors, Outside In is your invitation into the glittering world of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
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“A remarkably charming, whimsical novel . . . Thorne-Smith has a knack for swift, funny dialogue.” —BookPage
“A satisfying slice of chick lit.” —Entertainment Weekly
“An incisive tell-all about diet- and thinness-obsessed Hollywood.” —Kirkus Reviews
About Courtney Thorne-Smith
COURTNEY THORNE-SMITH is best known for her roles as Alison on the primetime soap opera Melrose Place, Georgia on the Emmy Award-winning series Ally McBeal, and currently as Cheryl opposite Jim Belushi in the hit situation comedy According to Jim…. More about Courtney Thorne-Smith
Q: How did you start writing? Have you always been a writer?
I’ve always kept a journal, and have endless pages containing the first few paragraphs of a short story or essay that has been rattling around in my imagination. For years into my acting career, I would hear people say “I’m a writer” and my heart would hurt with yearning. About 5 years ago, when I realized that my words were getting twisted in the interviews I did about body image, I decided it was time to put that yearning to work and find a way to speak for myself.
Q: How does your experience as an actor tie in to your experience as an author? Are there any similarities between acting and writing?
Absolutely! My acting has informed my writing in ways I could never have imagined. Obviously my ear for dialogue is well trained, and when I write, I can’t help saying each character’s words out loud, as if I were being hired to play them (quite a stretch with the male characters, but actors always feels like they can play anyone!). More importantly, however, is how my experience as an actor helped me to create characters. As an actor, I use common feelings and experiences to bring the roles I play to life. We have all felt happy, sad, loved, neglected, proud, and ashamed. It is in the combination and dominance of one trait or feeling over another that character and personality are illustrated.
Q: What’s the message about friendship that women can take from Outside In? Is there a Paige in your life?
There are a few Paiges in my life–and they are all claiming her as a personal characterization! Paige is a combination of “my girls,” which is how I refer to my tight group of girlfriends and my wonderful mom and sister. I believe that the love and support I have felt with these women has saved my sanity many times. There is nothing as soul-satisfying as starting a gab fest feeling weighed down by emotional pain, only to find yourself laughing about your problems a few short hours later. That’s what my friends give me: honest, loving reflection balanced with humor.
Q: When it comes to fame, do you think the Sapphire factor–the materialism, the phoniness, the childishness–has worsened or improved in recent years? Or has that facet of Hollywood always been there?
Unfortunately, I think there will always be some people who consider a movie or television set their own personal ego-gratification playground. Having said that, I also see how the business is changing, with fewer jobs available. As a result, I see more and more talented, successful people who are no longer willing to waste time and money. It is truly a gift to have the opportunity to make a living in a creative field surrounded by creative people, especially in this unsure economic climate.
Q: What are some of your favorite books? What authors do you appreciate and admire?
Oh dear, I get asked this question all the time and it is so difficult to answer! I have been a voracious reader since I was about five years old and I have been impacted by so many books and authors. As a young girl, I read and re-read The Phantom Tollbooth, Harriet the Spy, and all of Judy Blume’s books until they were as soft and worn as tissue paper. As an adult, I love to get lost in classics by Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters. I always know that I am in for a treat when Anne Tyler, Jennifer Weiner, Marian Keyes, Jane Green, or Diana Gabaldon comes out with a new book. And Anne Lamott holds a special place in my heart, both for her honest, relatable fiction and her wonderful book on writing, Bird by Bird.
Q: In this book, you take on a subject that every tabloid exploits: the pressure that Hollywood places on actresses to be thin. What are your thoughts on this subject? How pervasive is the pressure to maintain an unreasonably low weight, and what do you think women can do to stay healthy in the face of this?
First of all, there has been a lot of blame placed on “Hollywood” for the pressure women feel to be thin. Way before there ever was a Hollywood, women and men were expected to conform to whatever body type was fashionable at the time. I do understand that the constant onslaught of television and magazine images that we now face every day has made it more difficult for women to forge their own paths and create images of beauty that are healthy and supportive, but it is by no means impossible. For every painfully thin image we see, there is a photo of the stunning Salma Hayek, striking Scarlett Johansson, or my personal favorite, Nigella Lawson, the incredibly gorgeous and vivacious chef and lifestyle expert. My point is that we have more power than we realize in terms of where we put our attention and energy. As a side note, when the lists come out every year about which women’s bodies men most admire, it is never the skinny-minnies. It is always fit, healthy women like Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, and the women I mentioned earlier. As individuals, we need to expend our precious time and energy getting whatever support we need to find a way of eating and exercising that supports our bodies and minds, not waste countless hours of the day focused on starving our way to a completely subjective and fabricated ideal.
Q: This isn’t just a Hollywood story–it’s also about love and second chances. Is it particularly difficult to find love in Hollywood?
I believe true love is difficult to find anywhere, which is why it is so precious. Being famous certainly brings its own set of issues, but so does any career or lifestyle. One of the reasons I like working in television is that most shows are filmed in Los Angeles, and I found location shoots to be very hard on my relationships. I’m sure that businessmen and women who travel a lot for work, or people who work night shifts find the same to be true. Basically, I think we are all trying to find balance. And love. And the perfect pair of jeans.
Q: Who did you write this book for? Who do see as the audience for Outside In?
Well, I literally wrote it for my girlfriends, emailing them pages whenever I amassed more than ten or fifteen, or whenever Hamilton and Sapphire did something extraordinarily ridiculous. I also wrote it for readers like myself: people who like to go on a journey of self-discovery with a character they can relate to, who hopefully makes them laugh a lot and cry a little along the way.
Q: Any sequels in the works?
As a matter of fact, there is. It starts up where Outside In leaves off, and follows Kate further along her journey, while delving much more deeply into Paige’s life. I guess the characters aren’t done with me yet!
From the Hardcover edition.
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Published by Broadway Books Sep 18, 2007| 288 Pages| 6-1/8 x 9-1/4| ISBN 9780767928519