Clueless: Paul Rudd and Alicia Silverstone have such a great onscreen dynamic. I love watching their characters’ mutual annoyance fall away over the course of this movie as they realize the mutual respect and love that’s there. One of my favorite scenes is the moment we’ve waited for the whole movie—the scene on the stairs when they first kiss:
Sense and Sensibility: There are so many great scenes in this movie, but I’ll go with the one where he tells her he’s not marrying Lucy. So many tears! So much emotion. We’ve waited sooo long for them to finally figure it out:
Moulin Rouge: I could not love Ewan McGregor more in this movie. I love the music and the “This is Your Song” scene just makes me smile and makes my heart swell every time:
Once: Another musical movie. It doesn’t have a traditional romance arc, but it’s a sweet story and the music is absolutely beautiful:
Girls Just Want To Have Fun: I’ve probably watched this movie over 35 times in my life. It’s filled with awesome montage scenes—from Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt handing out the invitations all over town, to crashing the party, to all the many satisfying dance scenes. So I’ll share my favorite dance montage, the one where they’re rehearsing and finally getting along. Because, in the words of SJP’s character from the beginning of this movie, “I love to dance,” and I wanted to be her in this scene:
Did you have any of these scenes in mind when writing scenes from your latest release?
Not specifically. But I’m sure the competition and the falling for someone onstage/during rehearsals was somewhat inspired by Girls Just Want to Have Fun. And the seed of the stepbrother dynamic was probably inspired by Clueless, even though Craig and Ellie don’t—and are not meant to—end up with each other. But it starts with similar tension and morphs into mutual brother/sister respect and love.
If you could only read five books for the rest of your life, what five books would they be, and why?
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: I love the mood and tone of this book, and I adore the voice of the main character. She’s unassumingly funny. It has one of my favorite opening lines, “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: This book has everything: a loving family dynamic; strong female characters; the respect for the brilliance, creativity, and intuition of children; a theme of questioning the status-quo; a story that still captures my imagination today; and of course, the theory of the tesseract! Many of my family members and my closest friends live far away, and I so often wish for a way to trick the space-time continuum to see them instantly and without airfare.
Bossypants by Tina Fey: I would need something funny in the mix. It was a tough choice between this and David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day. But I’m a gigantic fan of Tina Fey, and as someone who chose to follow the path of performing and writing, and as someone with a six-year-old daughter, her “A Mother’s Prayer for Her Child” alone makes this book a keeper for me. I love this quote:
“Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.”
The Alchemist: I read this book every few years. It’s a parable I find inspiring. One of the messages I’ve held onto from this book is the idea that “beginner’s luck”helps reveal your path. By giving you an early win in something you’re passionate about it’s like the universe’s way of saying, “You can do this,” “You were meant to do this.” It doesn’t mean everything will be easy or quick after that (it’s often not), but it’s proof you should keep at it. The first time I ever tried stand-up comedy at the age of 18, it was for a contest, and I won it and was flown to NYC where my set was recorded and aired on TV. But it wasn’t like my comedy career took off from there. The first time I entered a writing contest, I got first place and was like, “Here we go! I’m going to be a published author soon!” And then was not published until now, eight years later. But that lesson of beginner’s luck helped me keep the faith in those moments after the early winswhen I felt lost.
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön: Her writing and talks help calm my anxiety-prone mind and remind me what’s really important and true when I’m getting sucked into worrying about the small stuff and not staying present. Plus, if I could only read five books ever again, I would definitely need this one to keep me from falling apart!
Who are your book boyfriends? (list a maximum of five) What do you like about them? What characteristics do they share with the hero from your latest release?
Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. He’s kind and steady and sees the best in Anne, even if he doesn’t know how to express it at first. Wes from Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. He’s artistic, supportive, loyal, and while he’s got his own past he’s grappling with, he’s still trying to be a good person. Jason shares these qualities with Gilbert and Wes.
FIRST ROMANCE (AKA My First Time):
What was the first romance novel you read?
I don’t specifically remember the name of any of them, but one summer I found my sister’s stash of Harlequin romance novels.
What do you remember about it?
I wasn’t a huge reader back then but I was like, hmm, these make for pleasing reading, and I read a bunch that summer.
What did you like most about it?
The pool boy. I definitely remember a scene from the girl’s perspective where she lusted over the shirtless boy by the pool, or cleaning the pool. I’m not sure exactly what poolside-activity he was doing, but she was enjoying his shirtlessness and so was I.
What did you like least about it?
It obviously wasn’t that memorable.
Have you ever reread it? If you did, how do you feel about it now?
Darcy or Wentworth? Darcy
Christian or Gideon? This is a 50 Shades reference? I’m not sure.
Rochester or Heathcliff?I guess I’ll go with Heathcliff (though I’ve never actually finished reading this book…I know—scandal!)
Spock or Kirk? Umm. Haven’t watched much Star Trek.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise
Angst or humor?: Humor!
Tea or coffee?: Coffee
Wine or beer?: Wine
Cake or pie?: Pie — not the chunky-fruit kind, but the smooth variety (pumpkin, key lime, Boston cream)
Scruff, beard, or clean-shaven? Scruff
Blue-collar or white collar? Depends
Jeans or a suit? Jeans
Car or motorcycle? Car. Definitely.
About A Messy, Beautiful Life:
Life is funny sometimes.
And not always the ha, ha kind. Like that one time where a hot guy tried to kiss me and I fell. Down. Hard. And then found out I had cancer.
I’m trying to be strong for my friends and my mom.
And I’m trying so hard to be “just friends” with that hot guy, even though he seems to want so much more. But I won’t do that to him. He’s been through this before with his family, and I’m not going to let him watch me die.
So, I tell myself: Smile Ellie. Be funny Ellie. Don’t cry Ellie, because once I start, I might not stop.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sara Jade Alan wrote her first comedy sketch during second-grade recess, then cast it, directed it, and made costumes out of garbage bags. Since then she’s performed in more than a thousand improvised and scripted shows. Currently she’s one half the comedy duo The Novelistas, who perform about the highs and lows of writing and publishing. A Messy, Beautiful Life, Sara’s debut YA novel with Entangled Teen, is inspired by her personal life story. www.sarajadealan.com