Liftin knows what itís like to be a star ó well,
publishing industry veteran has been writing about
celebrities for years as a ghostwriter for A-listers
such as Tori Spelling, Mackenzie Phillips and Miley
Cyrus. Liftin, who studied English at Yale University,
spent 10 years in New York before making the move to Los
Angeles in 2003.
sheís taking her knowledge of Hollywood culture to a
faux celebrity memoir called "Movie Star by Lizzie
Pepper." The author spoke to us about her first
novel, written from the perspective of a fictional
actress (Lizzie Pepper), who finds herself in a failed
marriage with a hotshot Hollywood movie star and cult
member who sharply resembles Tom Cruise.
What was it like going from ghost-writing to penning a
No one grows up thinking they are going to be a
ghostwriter. Many do it because they are journalists and
want some other work. I realized it was what I really
wanted to do.
a novel was both daunting and liberating. Iíd never
written or studied fiction. Iíd never faced the blank
page, so to speak. That was the daunting part. Mark
Twain was the one who said truth is stranger than
fiction because fiction has to be believable. The
daunting part about writing fiction is you canít just
say this happened so believe me. You have to make it
at the same time it was liberating because I realized
when I write celebrity memoirs, I stick to the facts. We
do our bests, my clients and I, to orchestrate the
narrative to play out in an interesting way. Here I had
the total freedom to time things the way I wanted to
time them. I could put two dramatic moments right next
to each other if I wanted to. I could have Lizzie Pepper
reading her pre-nup as sheís pumping milk for her
babies before her wedding. That just does not happen in
So ... I know whom Lizzie reminds me of: A young actress
who came from humble Midwestern roots, starred in a teen
TV show, fell in love with a big A-list star. Did you
keep anyone in particular in mind when writing?
Itís really pulled from all of the tabloids and this
tabloid culture that we all absorb.... Itís not about
a specific celebrity but all the drama we see play out
every week in the gossip magazines.
The book introduces a cult-like mind-body group called
One Cell. What kind of additional research did you do to
write about this fictional group? Did you write it
thinking of various Hollywood A-listersí relationships
The reason I invented the cult for the book ó I made
it up ó is that it plays the role of a third party
almost in the marriage. I wanted there to be some
interest that Rob Mars, the megastar, had that wasnít
a turn-off to her, was intriguing to her as a
girlfriend, as a Hollywood actress ... he even thinks it
will improve her figure.
had to ultimately force her hand in deciding, do I stick
with this man who seems to be perfect or do I need to
get away from this? Ultimately that decision turns into
how it affects her children. In that way, even though itís
a very Hollywood context, I was trying to explore what
the breaking point is of a marriage.
that way I was trying to show Lizzie as very Hollywood
but also very human in the choices she has to make. We
see Hollywood marriages implode every day and people get
sad about it ó people were really sad about Ben
Affleck and Jen Garner ó but no one knows why they are
sad exactly. So I wanted to talk about how we feel
connected to them because we see all these pictures, but
thatís not the real story.
There are a lot of moments in the book that go behind
the scenes, like when Lizzie gets dressed for her
outings and realizes everything is meticulously
orchestrated by her handlers. How did you get in the
head of a star?
Most Hollywood stories are satire about how a Hollywood
assistant has to fix someoneís latte. I think being a
ghostwriter has made me see that any celebrity started
off as this person and as far as they are concerned they
stayed a normal person. Thatís what I get celebrities
to express in their own books.
feel a level of sympathy for the complexity of a life
that is in the public eye. To me the saddest thing for
Lizzie is when she realizes she canít just walk out
and get a frozen yogurt, that part of her life is over,