Hello, everyone! Thanks for finding this, however you did. I don’t normally write blog posts. I might do it more. But for the purpose of this one, I’ve just found so much reflection in getting into this story. It’s such a great world, character and process. It’s been so intriguing to be following in Derrick’s footsteps and finding him here as well, and at the same time finding a new side of TJ I hadn’t seen before.
How To Be A Movie Star is a different kind of book than the At First Sight series and Tales From Verania. TJ covers an entire spectrum within Romance that varies between the OTT on one side and heart-breakingly bare and sincere on the other (I'm thinking Olive Juice or The Bones Beneath My Skin). Sure it's a ying-yang and you've got a little slice of either in either; but the How To Series (or is it the Abby, Oregon series? However, this is referred. I suppose I should know:|) seems to fall right in the middle.
What struck me about this book is how I kept on expecting TJ's signature absurdity to bleed through the characters. For instance, I see a lot of Vince in Josiah. But they are very different. They're both easy-going, charismatic, extremely handsome and a little spacey. But Josiah's not dumb, and I feel like he's got more dimensions than Vince (Sorry, Vince). And he's got a whole life philosophy that's unlike any character I've ever read.
I go through a little Meisner-esque process of living through whichever character I'm doing (I’m pretty sure this is right. I learned theatre theory in high school lol) (also this is largely why I enjoy 1st person narrations) (Also just to note: Josy is totally a Hagen actor in that he invents the backstories for his characters! This is hot.). But this book isn't a first-person narration. It is 3rd person and follows a protagonist. This is the first TJ book (for me reading) where the narration isn't inner monologue, which was an interesting change. I get to be omniscient in this bad boy! But aside from that curious difference, there's also the added factor of becoming this personality that's at once self-assured in what I would describe as a sexuality based on the freedom to not limit attraction to a term. Josy is demisexual, but that's described in the book as being only attracted after a significant amount of time with someone, i.e. based totally on feeling. It's wholly defined by a personal need rather than a textbook-like definition, and that's so groovy.
This personal freedom envelops the character in such a way that he truly feels free. So when I've gone lollygagging around whilst singing in chorus the voice of either Sam of Wilds, Paul Auster or Sandy; it's never felt as cool as Josy. Like, he just feels like such a dreamy, wavering peaceful soul. There's apprehension, but there's no anxiety. I believe that's where the attraction for the love interest comes from in HTBAMS (I'll leave that there to retain a spoiler-free zone).
I wanted to write this blog, because I really love this new experience. I got to get invested in Derrick's masterful narration as Gustavo. I'm trying to live up to it, but I'm also trying to play with my own signature aspects. I found myself approximating his Gustavo and Casey (I'll never reach his mesmerizing 80hz baritone); but I've also given voices to other characters like Lottie and the We Three Queens based on my desire to give them a spice that I've homegrown from the sensory reaction to TJ's writing.
This book also touches me as an actor, because the OTT aspect of it is a commentary on the ludicrous stunts an actor must portray in a modern career. I'm not in LA. I'm not even a visual actor. But this still hits home in a very particularly (not cozy, but) anti-cozy way—as in, I feel Josy's pain. The absurdity of being an actor is living with the strange elements of some genius quasi-psycho's id-born playground. That's not a dig at TJ. Well, a little dig. But, it's like, TJ knows. He wrote this fucking thing. And living in someone else's vision is the equivalence of playing with their angels and monsters. You're giving life to the thing that was so severe to their notion of identity, that they wrote a whole book or script about it. And that's a scary amount of vulnerability. So, it's at once a cocktail of pleasure and pain, the sanity of closure and the insanity of a brewing conflict being sustained. And I suppose like everything that's beautiful, it's a lot to comprehend.
So anyway, I'm not sure if I'll write another blog post. But I'll certainly post promotional stuff for this book! It's awesome, it's strange; but perhaps most strangely, it feels very real. At the very least, Josy and Q-bert's feelings feel very real to me. And I love that. It seeps within me like a sous-vide of emotional pleasure; and I hope it resonates with you in the same way.
If you haven’t picked up the audiobook for How To Be A Normal Person, Derrick does such a sincerely terrific job and I really think that it’s an amazing story. I love that this sequel is both independent and loyal to where it comes from. Here’s the link if you haven’t had a chance: https://www.audible.com/pd/How-to-Be-a-Normal-Person-Audiobook/B01E9E61ZK?ref=a_author_TJ_c9_lProduct_1_3&pf_rd_p=f3922fa9-3d5e-4d2f-9f4e-b934d015709e&pf_rd_r=80MA9JEGF54PM5P8H1BK