Lauren Conrad, until recently the star of MTV’s reality series The Hills, sizes up the balding, middle-aged reporter sent to cover her debut as a novelist and emits an incredulous giggle.
“Dude, they made you read my book? It’s for, like, 15-year-old girls,” observes Conrad.
It’s true. Editors can be cruel. Conrad was very much between things when she made a promotional stop in Toronto at the end of last month. The 23-year-old Laguna Beach native had just announced her decision to walk away from The Hills after five seasons.
She was also on the point of adding novelist to a resumé that includes work as would-be fashion designer and a recent cameo on Family Guy.
L.A. Candy is the first in a projected series of at least three novels about two California teens — one an aspiring party planner; the other a frosh at USC — recruited to appear in a reality TV show that vaguely resembles The Hills (at least as near as the reporter can judge from having watched half of one episode).
“I wanted to write something that I really knew about,” says Conrad. “I knew that I could write a very true story about what it would be like to be cast in a reality show — something you weren’t necessarily looking for — and being thrown into that experience.
“I purposely didn’t model characters after specific people or bring up specific events. A lot of things — like the interview process, the first time you get miked and being introduced to the whole situation — is pretty true to my experience. It’s different people and different situations, but I had to write what I was familiar with.”
Although L.A. Candy offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the not-so-real conventions of reality TV, Conrad insists that the book is not intended as a critical exposé.
“A reality show is a reality show,” she says. “You can’t make up two people hating each other. You can’t make up a boyfriend cheating on a girlfriend. These things are all happening but it’s not always easy to document because of all the other factors.
“So a lot of times the things that people say are altering reality are actually bringing it closer. The second book is going to show a little bit more about why the producers have to do these things.”
Conrad also hopes that the book will eventually be made into a series.
“It would be a book written by a girl on a TV show, about the reality behind a TV show — that becomes a TV show. Something like that.”