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July 29, 2006

Alison Gaylin

The Tarts welcome Alison Gaylin, author of the Edgar nominated HIDE YOUR EYES, not to mention first rate blogger at First Offenders and who has a deliciously intriguing day job . . .   

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Last year, I finally realized a longtime dream and became a published author.  My first two books--HIDE YOUR EYES and YOU KILL ME--both came out from Signet in 2005.  And HIDE YOUR EYES was nominated for an Edgar. When I tell most people this, they're happy for me. They say things like, "That's great." Or, "How exciting for you," or, "What's an Edgar?" But the truth is, they don't care that much. They don't want to engage me over my mystery writing career. They don't want to sit me down and buy me drinks and pick my brain for hours . . . Until I tell them about my day job.

For the past three years, I've worked as an articles editor at In Touch. For you intellectuals out there, In Touch is the one you see in supermarket check-out lines.  "(Your magazine's right next to the candy, Mama!" says my very impressed five-year-old.) It's not a tabloid; it's a glossy celebrity weekly, much like US or People, only it has the distinction of being only $1.99.  (We like to call it Cheaple.) As articles editor, I spend all day reading raw reporting files and crafting them into 200-500 word articles about Brangelina, TomKat, Jen and Vince, Britney and K-Fed . . . you name it. That means I get all the gossip first. And I can't tell you how popular this makes me at cocktail parties.

Oh, they play smart with me at first. "I never read that stuff," they said.  ("Neither do I," I reply.) "Why does anyone even care?" they say. ("I have no idea.  But it pays for my health insurance.") Then there's that long pause, the probing look. And the questions--the real questions they've been dying to ask--come flying out in a torrent:  "What the deal with Tom and Katie?" "Will Jessica and Nick ever get back together?" "How could Denise do that to Heather? They were best friends!"

I am their guilty pleasure.

The fact is, if the people I meet at cocktail parties really saw what I do in the course of a day, they'd be bored to tears. I sit in a cubicle in Englewood Clifs, New Jersey, trying to create breathless prose about Angelina's skinny arms or Britney's baby bump, thinking, "health insurance, health insurance, health insurance . . . " Sometimes, they give me one line of reporting--maybe Jessica Simpson looked a little down while shopping at Barney's--and I have to stretch it into a 550-word cover story about how her heart is broken forever.

I make mountains out of celebrity molehills on a regular basis.  Hell, some of the "big" stories--the ones that play out for months in In Touch's covers--don't even seem all that earth-shattering when you really look at them. Take Brad/Je/Angelina.  Brad and Jen were married for four years. They had no kids, and by most accounts, they were both such workaholics they barely saw each other. Brad met someone else--someone he had more in common with--so he and Jen decided to get a divorce. Sorry, but big, fat freakin' deal.  More scandalous stuff happens in my hometown every day of the week. But because all three of these people look as if they've been sculpted out of fine marble, it's the biggest story of this past year. Everybody I meet is asking me about it. My daughter's pre-school teacher needs to know what really happened on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. My mother is thisclose to sending Jen a sympathy card.

Or Jessica Simpson. She was married to Nick for two years about she's about 12 years old. You can't tell me hers is a heartbreak that will last forever.

Yes, In Touch covers with Brad and Angelina or Jessica on them routinely sell a million copies. And, deep down, I understand why. Seeing people like that--people who have that kind of money and fame and sheer physical perfection--act like, well, human beings. That's what's really shocking. That is the real guilty pleasure.

One final note: There really is some outrageous celebrity gossip out there. I've heard stories that would melt your jawbone. But that stuff we can't print because we're a family publication. That stuff . . . with poetic license, of course . . . is what I'm saving for my next book.

(Alison's next book, TRASH, is a standalone about a reluctant supermarket tabloid reporter who uncovers the seamy and murderous underside of Hollywood. It'll be out from NAL in September, 2007.)


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Aw, c'mon, dish it here. This is definitely not a family publication.

Or maybe you could get In Touch to start an author-gossip mag (Who bedded who at BEA, etc.) Trouble is, only authors would buy it...

Welcome, Alison!! I think we have the same editor at NAL and I know she's very proud of you....
Okay, that done, I raise my hand here and SWEAR that I read every piece of gossip I can get my hands on. I am not proud and my husband is sorely disappointed in me.
Yet, who's the loser here? When some joke will be cracked - and, oh yes, it will be cracked - about Mel Gibson's DUI this week, he will look to me wide eyed and confused. Yet, I will know the answer: Malibu. 2:30 a.m. Mad Max speeding like a demon who fell off the wagon and crashed Passion of the Christ.
So, in my world, you are my hero.
Note to Bob: Sex at BEA? Are you for real? I don't even want to think about all those sedentary authors doing that.

Is "In Touch" only celebrity gossip?

How about serious articles featuring the paranormal? Vampires? Aliens from another world? Can you get in touch with them?

If you had to pick another celebrity from another world, who would that be Alison?

Thanks so much for the nice welcome, guys. And Sarah, I've heard wonderful things from our mutual editor about you as well! Here's an interesting piece of gossip for you: One of our (male) editors grabbed a certain young male heartthrob's butt and says it's flabby and flat as a pancake. Let the guessing begin. (I'll reveal his identity at the end of the day.) Bob, interesting idea about the author gossip mag. I'm thinking about the photo spreads: Authors with no make-up! Author cellulite hall of shame! Dave, if you're talking another PLANET, I'd say Tom Cruise.

I confess to getting my daily 'fix' at CNN.com, but if there's a magazine lying around at work, I flip to the cover story and satisfy own curiosity. Aliens? Definitely Tom Cruise...just let me know when you break the story that Katie has had enough...because I already have :o)
By the way, welcome! I think I'm going to have to scout B&N for your book!

Ooooh, I know, I know. Is it Orlando Bloom? According to my daughter's magazines - when she used to read them three years ago - OB was a total TV junkie. That's my guess.

Okay, for a split second I thought you meant a male editor AT PENGUIN.--And I couldn't wait for your answer!!

As for behind-the-scenes action at BEA---That's kinda like imagining porcupines mating.

Nancy, I'm still laughing over that one, especially given the identity of the celeb and the few male Penguin editors I've met. Excellent guess, Sarah! But no dice... Keep 'em coming! (By the way, in a recent In Touch poll, readers chose Johnny Depp as the sexiest pirate by a whopping 92 percent. Poor Orlando -- must be the TV butt.) Mary Ann, I'm with you on the whole TomKat thing. Though I have to say, the reporting files on those two are fascinating...

Colin Farrel?

Hold on, hold on...what's an editor grabbing a heartthrob's butt for anyway? Just what kind of magazine is this In Touch?

Sarah, our editor grabbed during his previous tenure at another publication. (We're a family magazine, don't ya know.) Not Colin, either... Other than "Alexander," he has absolutely nothing to be embarassed about.

NOW you finally think to ask that question??? That's why we love you, Sarah!

Uh.... Owen Wilson?

No! Not Owen. Say it's not so!!!

And if it is so, I'm afraid that I'll have to inspect that butt personally. Give it the Charmin test and all that.

"Not Colin, either... Other than "Alexander," he has absolutely nothing to be embarassed about."

"Alexander" is embarassment enough for any human in one lifetime.

Hey, I admit it: I read the gossip mags and I check the gossip newsgroups right after email.
Okay, so what's going on with Benicio del Toro (be still my heart)? Partying too much? too many ladies?
And Keanu Reeves -- will he ever find happiness?


Okay, I bought In Touch today, looking for hints. I don't know what's up with Suri Cruise...another PR stunt?
Okay, Owen Wilson's definitely a candidate, I'm afraid. And what about his brother Luke? They're both writers so it makes sense.
On to the next coat of paint...

What a great real job!! Do "the lawyers" hassle you very much, or can you report on Jonathan Taylor Thomas' dalliance with Nathan Lane? [I made that up.]

Young male hearthrob, mushy butt? Adrian Grenier?

Hush your mouth, Josh. He plays the bongos and ran the NY Marathon. Sacrilege! Sacrilege, I say!
Painting is reallly boring...

Wait a minute, Sarah. "... plays bongos ..." Isn't that Matthew canneverspellhislastnamecorrectly McH-whatever?

Seriously, how do you do a blind item? One or two things accurate?

should be working, but will stop for gossip

Great blog - welcome, and now I'm going to order your books from the Mystery Lovers -

Are you going to tour with the new book? How about considering Pittsburgh as a stop?

Now, as for my guess - can we have a hint? Actor or musician? If it's an actor, I'm going to guess Ashton Kutcher. If it's a musician, I'm going with Nick Lachey. Although, in fairness, I'm using both nouns in a very general sense.

Was it Ann Coulter?

Rosie O'Donnell?

Ramona. Play nice. Ryan Phillippe, who is from Delaware, would be a better choice. Our Realtor(r) sold his sister a (much smaller) house four blocks from here. I fantasize about seeing Reese in the Acme, fully clad. Sort of like Lisa with Harley in the book.

And Dave, that's my sister, The Queen of Nice, you're ripping there.

Let's keep it clean.

Wow, so many good guesses, and not one of them correct! (Though I must say, the editor in question wouldn't grab Ann Coulter's ass if his life depended on it.)Since night is beginning to fall, a hint... The hunk in question is single. And loves to date supermodels. Jeanne, Benicio is quite the partying playboy, yes. One of my favorite gossip items we printed was a very, uh, visible hook-up between him and Scarlet Johansen one Oscar night. Which they both denied. Dude, people saw you. And speaking of our legal team, opinions expressed here by Alison Gaylin do not reflect those of In Touch or its parent company.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas' dalliance with Nathan Lane?

By the way, Josh, that's one hell of an image you've burned into my mind.

Hugh Grant? But he's too old....

Josh....You do know that JTT is from The Valley, right? Then again, so is Kid Rock and may I just add my congratulations right here.

Jeanne, blind items are usually quite correct -- but could result in horrible lawsuits should names be revealed. There are certain (true) things about celebrities that our reporters have actually witnessed that we could never print because without someone confirming them on the record, lawsuits would occur. Like that hot leading man feeding mini-pretzels to his male buddy, while sitting thisclose at a Paris fashion show.

Sarah, another hint. He's American. (Though the editor is British)

Kevin Federli....sorry, can't finish, even my fingers starting laughing. And I've already been warned to play nice. (Geez, Josh, the decription included "young" and "heartthrob" so I kinda was being nice...)

Jake Gyllen-however-you-spell-it??

darn. See, I'm not one for American men and when you said "flabby ass" I immediately thought British! Dave Navarro? Tom Cruise? No, he's too short to date super models. Besides, he probably has his ass insured.

Oh, oh wait a minute --- Del Toro and Scarlet on the elevator, right? Right? How could I forget ! Well, I doubt she'll last any longer than the next starlet bimbo ...

And Ramona, I think Jake's the answer for just about everything these days. Hmm -- is it true about him and Lance Armstrong or is Jake just doing research? LOL

Thanks, Alison, re blind items. Tom Cruise seems to be the only one really, really into suing .... so if he were really gay, it'd be a problem with all the lawsuits he's won.

My life is so, so boring ... LOL

what I heard growing up about stars (my father worked early tv with lotsa stars) is so mild

Doesn't Leonardo DiCaprio date supermodels? He doesn't seem like the buff type, either.

Leo is my final guess. I give, Alison!

Lance Armstrong???

Ramona - you hit it! Leonardo DiCaprio. Yup. Gotta be.

BTW, I forgot to ask: Is there a prize at the end of this game?


Yay! Something to add to my CV!

The prize, Ramona, is the inability to ever watch Titanic in the same way again.

Kind of like a booby prize? Or, more accurately, booty prize?

Leaving now to buy Alison's books. And the latest issue of In Touch, of course.

Yay Ramona!!
Now about Jake and Lance...

Kathy, in a very delayed response, I do hope to tour and I'd love to go to Pittsburgh.

No, Sarah, I did not know about either of them, although I did know people like each of them growing up.

It's just that Leo doesn't seem so young anymore (according to IMDb, almost 32), and who really thought he was anything other than a real-life version of Peter Pan, anyway? Too androgynistic for me. Sharon Stone was way manlier than he was in "The Quick and The Dead," a female empowerment movie if there ever was one.

And Alison, I was kidding about that JTT-Nathan Lane thing. My understanding was that Lane just sort of was a mentor of sorts, helping JTT sort things out.

Oh, and when I went out to get dessert a little while ago, I bought InTouch ($1.99!!!!). Some blond is on the cover, I think it's Ashley Simpson, whoever that is, and I think she is alleged to have gone overboard with surgery.

Alison'll have to email me with the stories she worked.

And the really scary thing is, there are lots of names up there I don't even recognize. This is why my daughter and husband laugh at me.

(I keep telling them it's so they'll have something to bond over. Honest . . .)

Great blog, Alison; I actually picked up a copy of In Touch at the store today, but didn't have enough time to get past the cover. And I'm looking forward to reading your book post haste!

Josh O'Donnell?

Alison, don't stop there! Spill about Lance and Jake! And why did Lance ~really~ kick Sheryl to the curb? Huh? I have to give this a rest.

Will you be done here in NC anytime for some signings?

I can't believe I actually miss Jersey -- I hate this heat here. Englewood's not too far from Little Falls, right? Or did I lose my sense of direction since moving down here?


No, no, no. She played my sister in a movie.

Thanks for supporting In Touch, guys. And hey, my books aren't that much more expensive! In fact, you could by the latest In Touch, plus both my books, for slightly more than one issue of Vanity Fair. Jeanne, from what I hear, Lance thought Sheryl was getting too serious. And that seems to have panned out. Lance, Jake and Matthew McConna-Ihaveproblemsspellinghisnametoo are acting exactly like the "wild and crazy guys" from the old saturday night live routines. Matthew... Man. Talk about the world's most entertaining -- and unprintable -- reporting file. Josh, I actually don't have any writing in the current issue because I was on vacation last week. Buy the next one, email me, and I'll tell you what I wrote... I'd love to come to NC, too, Jeanne! Englewood Cliffs is right next to Fort Lee. It's an hour and a half commute for me (I live in upstate NY) but hey, anything for health insurance. You guys are all so much fun, by the way!

Hey Josh, what movie did Rosie O'Donnell play your sister?

Alyson - I noticed you have an upcoming book called "Trash." One of my neighbors portrayed a character named Trash, she was a punk rocker who danced naked on tombstones in a zombie opus; "Return of the Living Dead." Does that make me an "In Touch" correspondent?

Dave, wait. I saw that movie. Did your neighbor get zombified and run around saying "brains, brains, brains?" If so, I want her autograph.

That's her!
here is the website;
Tell Linnea that I sent you,
it might cheer her up.

Alison, what a pleasure to have you with us today! And I, too, took a look at In Touch at the grocery this evening. Plastic surgery addicts---wonderful! All the starlets look alike these days--the same cheek & chin implants, I guess.

My theory about celebrities is that none of us have time to chat over the backyard fence anymore, and celebrities have taken the place of our friends and neighbors. So we're fascinated by their lives instead of eagerly seeking neighborhood gossip like in teh olden days. Plus photos of Kathleen Turner without her makeup---!

I vote the next headline should be heart throbs with squishy buns!

Thanks so much Nancy -- and everybody! What a terrific group you all are. If any of you are going to Bouchercon this year, meet me at the bar, and I'll dish with you in person.

Don't dish Alyson, find me the future Mrs. Cinema Dave!

Dear Cinema Dave,

Are you really sure you want to put a personal ad on THIS blog?

P.S. And because I like you (and thought your Rosie O'Donnell come-back was a hoot) I won't write...Ann Coulter?

Actually, Laura Ingraham is more my type than Ann Coulter, just for the record.

Thanks Ramona for liking me.

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