Former Mandeville resident has book published on L.A. lifestyle
By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – Abby Stern hasn’t given up on her dream to make it as an actress in the Hollywood movie and television industry.
But in the meantime, she is very content with her first novel that debuted nationally from St. Martin’s Press on May 23, telling a fun, yet fictional tale of life behind the curtains in Hollywood.
Stern, a former Mandeville resident, now lives in Los Angeles, but will be in town this Saturday, June 3 for a book signing at Barnes & Noble, 3414 Hwy. 190 in Mandeville from 1 to 3 p.m., displaying her publication, “According to a Source.”
Stern took 10 years to complete the novel, admittedly working on it here and there for years before finally finishing it two years ago and sending it to a host of publishing companies—the normal routine for an unpublished writer hoping to get her big shot.
For Stern it appears that is happening.
St. Martin’s Press is one of the largest publishing companies in the country and was one of several that showed interest in the book.
“I was in disbelief and also extremely excited when my agent called me in July of 2015 and told me we had a deal to publish the book with St. Martin’s,” Stern said. “Incredibly, my mother was with me in a New York City hotel when I got the call so it was so great to be able to share that moment with her.”
Stern was like thousands of other little girls who grew up with a dream to be an actress, making it on the big stage in Hollywood and having a fame-filled career.
“I was like many other kids who grew up with that dream to be in theater,” she recalled. “I used to create plays and was acting anywhere I could.”
When she graduated from high school she followed the path of so many others, packing her bags and heading for Hollywood, where she attended the University of Southern California and earned a Theater Degree with a minor in Film Critical Studies.
While in college she auditioned for many different roles and has gotten various different parts, including her biggest acting role on Mad TV when she said she made $700 as her biggest acting paycheck. But as she waited for the “big chance,” she got a job in her early 20s as a freelancer for People Magazine, something that helped her learn more about the industry.
“When I went to Hollywood I certainly was hoping to make it in TV or the movies,” she said. “But I was also trying to learn everything I could about the industry. Knowledge is power and I wanted to learn how a casting agency worked, how a talent agency worked—everything about the business.”
Almost without realizing it she was gaining the knowledge and inside information that would eventually help her finish “According to a Source.”
Stern said she began writing the book at the age of 23—10 years ago—and would work on it from time-to-time. But she also was gaining many Hollywood contacts thanks to her job at People magazine, interviewing dozens of A-list celebrities.
“According to a Source” is a fictional story about the Hollywood industry and as Stern says “is kind of a peek behind the curtain of gossip, journalism, celebrities and more. It’s not a tell-all by any means, but I will say that some of the characters in the book are created from real people. I’m just not saying who they are and I’ll leave it up to the readers to make their own guesses.”
Once St. Martin’s Press signed Stern to publish the book it took about a year-and-a-half to get the book reworked and tweaked, a process she said was grueling, but very educational.
“In the end I think it came out so well,” she said. “My editor was amazing and really helped the book to be better than when they first saw it.”
Stern said she continues to seek auditions and hasn’t given up on her dream to act. She has good advice for others who may want to follow her path.
“Some of the things I learned during my time here are that you need to continually be practicing your craft as you try to make it. That might be writing, or going to class every day. You need to make connections and bring whatever is unique about yourself to every audition,” she said.
Most of all, she added, “be kind to everyone. You never know who might be able to help you since there is a lot of truth to the fact that a lot does depend on who you know and who you connect with.”
When asked what misconceptions the general public has about Hollywood she had a quick answer.
“Everyone thinks celebrities are divas, but from what I’ve seen that’s not at all true,” she said. “The ones who really make it are the ones who are kind to everyone.”
The agency Stern signed on with to get her book published is now promoting it for a possible TV or a movie.
“There are no promises yet about that happening, but there has been some interest,” she said.
Going forward, Stern isn’t quitting her day job just yet and is writing a TV script for something she hopes a network may pick up.
“That’s also my dream, to create a show that goes on TV,” she added.
The book is currently available at area stores as well as amazon.com.