Hello again mersquad coven! I’m back today for another blog tour for Harlequin and I appreciate you all so much for being here today. I also had another opportunity to do an interview with the author for this novel, so let’s see what kind of questions I was able to think of this time.
With a setting inspired by the real-life Williamstown Theatre Festival in the Berkshires where stars like Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lauren Graham, and Chris Pine have performed, THE SUMMER SET (Graydon House Books; May 12; $17.99) is a salacious rom-com, beach read perfect for Broadway nerds and Hollywood gossips alike.
Charlie Savoy was once Hollywood’s hottest A-lister. Now, ten years later, she’s pushing forty, exiled from the film world back at the summer Shakespeare theater in the Berkshires that launched her career—and where her first love, Nick, is the artistic director.
It’s not exactly her first choice. But as parts are cast and rehearsals begin, Charlie is surprised to find herself thriving: bonding with celebrity actors, forging unexpected new friendships, and even reigniting her spark with Nick despite their complicated history.
Until Charlie’s old rival, Hollywood’s current “It Girl,” is brought on set, threatening to undo everything she’s been working towards. As the drama amps up both on the stage and behind the curtains, Charlie must put on one heck of a show to fight for the second chance she deserves in her career and in love.
Aimee Agresti is the author of Campaign Widows and The Gilded Wings trilogy for young adults. A former staff writer for Us Weekly, she penned the magazine’s coffee table book Inside Hollywood. Aimee’s work has also appeared in People, Premiere, DC magazine, Capitol File, the Washington Post, Washingtonian, the Washington City Paper, Boston magazine, Women’s Health and the New York Observer, and she has made countless TV and radio appearances, dishing about celebrities on the likes of Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, E!, The Insider, Extra, VH1, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and HLN. Aimee graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, DC, area.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing, Netgalley, and Graydon House Books for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.
So one of the first things that I had to note was that Charlie is considered “washed up” or a has been because she’s almost forty years old, and according to Hollywood standards, that’s too old. Which honestly, I hate because age does not dictate whether someone is beautiful or not, and honestly beauty is not the end-all for someone’s worth! But anyway, that’s just my hot take on that situation. So I feel for Charlie because even though I haven’t hit 30 yet, I already feel old because society has made me feel like being in my 20s is where I want to be for the rest of my life and if I haven’t done anything remarkable by then, then I failed in life. And that’s such a lie, and such an unrealistic standard that hurts people everywhere and will probably make them feel self-deprecating because they weren’t on the news making some sort of history.
But even though Charlie isn’t an A-Lister anymore, she’s still in the world of the acting arts – is that a term? – and she’s spending her time at the Shakespeare Theater where she got her start into acting in the first place. Sometimes it’s good to go back to your roots, remember what made you fall in love with your passion in the first place, and find that flame again when it feels like things aren’t making much sense anymore. I like that she did this, and maybe it didn’t hurt that there’s a potential love interest at play here, even though he is currently an ex lover.
As the synopsis says, and as you’ll be able to see the more you read the novel, Charlie starts to “get her groove back” a la Stella (How Stella Got her Groove Back, anyone?) and that’s exactly what I love about books like this. This makes me want to pull a Stella, pull a Charlie, and find my groove again. It can mean so much, and I feel like it meant so much to Charlie to find that groove and really get back to her love for acting and being in this world again. Away from the politics of Hollywood and all that drama. Having her have that chance to just detox from that life – although maybe there is a little bit of drama in the theater world – was great for her. You can’t have theater without some drama. It is the theater, after all.
What inspired you to write The Summer Set?
I’ve always loved the film/TV/theater/music universe. I started out writing for entertainment magazines—Us Weekly, Premiere—and those jobs were incredible and offered me this amazing glimpse into that celebrity world with all of its ups and downs and drama and excitement. I’m an arts girl so I think there’s something magical about the way a great show, whether on stage or screen, can transport you or connect with you or seem to understand you. And I think the people who are able to bring those stories to life are fascinating!
Let’s talk about your writing, what is your writing process like? Do you follow an outline or do you just see where the story leads you?
I’m a major outliner! I need to have everything mapped out. I need to know this journey has a destination. I admire writers who can let things unfold as they go—how freeing that must be!—but I’m a planner, it gives me comfort. Although, there are plenty of twists that only present themselves when you’re in the middle of writing so I do always let myself deviate from my outline too, great stuff comes out of that!
How do you decide what kind of journey you want your characters to go on?
That’s a fantastic, huge question! Those first flashes I always have of a novel are of the main character in some sort of inner turmoil. So I tend to know the reason I’m going to be telling their story in the first place, but figuring out how to show it all and get from point A to B to C, takes a lot of mapping out!
Would you ever write YA fantasy novels again?
I love this question! Absolutely, if the right story sparked! I had so much fun writing the Gilded Wings Trilogy, I miss those characters and still think of them and what adventures they might still be having! And I do miss writing magic and superpowers, it was always exciting to get to dream up those elements. So, you never know, I might just have to get back to that! 😉
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m (slooooowly) at work on the next novel! It’s in those early stages but it’s an idea I’ve had for a long time so I’m excited! Wish me luck!!
And there you have it, friends!