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Atheneum Books for Young Readers

    Interview with MURDER AMONG THE STARS Author Adam Shankman

    I am so thrilled to welcome the very talented and amazing Adam Shankman to the blog today for a Q&A about his latest novel, MURDER AMONG THE STARS which he co-authored with Laura L. Sullivan. MURDER AMONG THE STARS is the second LuLu Kelly Mystery and is even more exciting than the first with its interesting and delightful cast of characters and its incredible setting – Hearst Castle.

    Author Adam Shankman talks favorite characters, favorite and challenging scenes, favorite book in the series, which character type he would be, just what Freddie adores most about Lulu, and more!

    I love why he chose the setting for this novel, I love how he differentiates Lulu and Lucille, and I love that he is entertained by his characters. And I love this series.

    If you’re new to the series skip the description for MURDER AMONG THE STARS but feel free to check out the interview as it is non-spoiler-y. The information about GIRL ABOUT TOWN, the first book in the series, can be found at the end of the post.

    If you’d like to learn more about the authors be sure to follow them on social media – links follow their brief bios. And if you’d like to check out the Blog Tour Interview with Author Laura L. Sullivan, CLICK HERE.


    About MURDER AMONG THE STARS

    Add to Goodreads

    Title & Series: MURDER AMONG THE STARS (A Lulu Kelly Mystery)
    Authors: Adam Shankman, Laura L. Sullivan
    Release date: June 13, 2017
    Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
    Pages: 320
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description…

    A murderer is picking off the young Hollywood starlets gathered at the swanky Hearst Castle, and Lulu Kelly might be next—unless she can find the killer first in this glitzy, glamorous, and cinematic sequel to acclaimed film producer/director Adam Shankman and coauthor Laura Sullivan’s Girl About Town.

    After being framed for attempted murder, Lulu Kelly has earned a rest. Unfortunately, there is no rest in Hollywood for a rising starlet. Lulu and her boyfriend Freddie are invited to posh Hearst Castle, where Lulu will be competing against other young actresses for the role of a lifetime. But what’s a house party without a little murder?

    After a rival actress is found dead under the dining room table, Lulu makes it her mission to solve the mystery. But illusion is this town’s number one export, and it’s hard to tell the ambitious from the truly evil. As the clues pile up, Lulu and Freddie race to find the killer, even as Lulu becomes the next target.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | SIMON & SCHUSTER | GOODREADS


    The Interview

    Q&A with Author Adam Shankman

    Q. Who is your favorite character to write about in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries series – and why is she/he a favorite?

    I would have to say that my favorites are the actually Freddie and Lulu. Certainly Lulu. They are both in a great hurry to be adults, and take on the world, and they feel VERY BIG feelings! They entertain me endlessly.

    Q. What was your favorite scene (non-spoiler-y) to write in MURDER AMONG THE STARS – and why was it a favorite?

    I liked the party scenes. I’ve always had a great fondness for Agatha Christie style gatherings, when people are all in a room together, and you know SOMEONE there is a murderer, but you don’t know who. The darting eyes, the mistrust, the booze and dancing, and the tension of not knowing. I love writing that stuff.

    Q. What was your most challenging scene (non-spoiler-y) to write in MURDER AMONG THE STARS – and why was it a challenge?

    For me, the challenge of these books are to try and keep them from becoming too twee and precious. They are homages to giants that came before us, and a period I have great unbridled respect and enthusiasm for. I guess, given that, the part I personally struggled with the most, was the reveal of the killer! Laura and I wrote one idea originally, than completely rethought it, and made it a completely different idea. More satisfying I think. But I don’t like endings! I like process, so endings are a bit sad to me.

    Q. Which book in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries was your favorite to write – and why?

    I actually thought writing Girl About Town was much more fun for awhile since I enjoyed creating the lives of our characters. Mysteries are a bit of math, what with the plots, subplots, misleads, laying out clues, etc… I tend to favor character related work. Getting to know these people. Hanging out with them. I’m terrible at math by nature, so as to that, I was so grateful to Laura for being such a stalwart guide and soldier. She had a great deal of patience with me.

    Q. What do you enjoy most about writing a mystery/mysteries?

    See above!

    Q. What made you choose the setting for MURDER AMONG THE STARS?

    I’m a native Angeleno, and as a child my mom took me to Hearst Castle, and I’ve never forgotten what an extraordinary impact it had on me. I imagined all of the movie stars, and luminaries of the time cavorting in that gorgeous setting. When I was small, it was HUGE to me. In fact, the bedrooms are rather small by todays standards, but the history is honey running down the walls there. When we were thinking about the next book, this was the actual setting I immediately suggested, and Laura went all in for it! I think it’s a pretty darn perfect location for glamorous mayhem, which is frankly what Freddie and Lulu are all about!

    Q. If you could describe Lulu Kelly in 15 words or less, how would you describe her? AND if you could describe Lucille O’Malley in 15 words or less how different would your description be?

    Lulu Kelly: insatiably curious, head-strong, brave, and ambitious. She’s a glamorous trouble maker and a hopeless romantic. I counted head-strong as one word.

    Lucille O’Malley was infinitely more humble, burdened, fearful and didn’t know she could really ever raise herself up. Her shame about how she got everything that her “new life” has offered her will likely never stop plaguing her conscience. She’s simply too moral.

    Q. What is it about Lulu Kelly that Freddie van der Waals adores the most?

    This question makes me want to use a million old fashioned words that seldom get used these days! Moxie, pluck, wiles, spunk, guts, nerve, and fearlessness. I think he’s terribly drawn to everything about her that he compains about! Her impetuous nature drives him bonkers, but it’s also what endlessly intrigues and endears her to him.

    Q. If you were a character in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries who would you be – hero/heroine, villain, victim, suspect, someone else? And why would you choose to be that type of character?

    I will always and forever see myself as the goofy sidekick. I’m probably Charlie, the dog in these books. I’m not handsome or dashing enough to be the hero, or female and girlish enough to be the heroine! I’m the funny narrator. The wise cracking pal. And I love that character. They add a fresh perspective to things, and usually take the edge off of the leading folks. Also, not for nothing, they so seldom get killed!


    About the Authors

    Photo credit: Frank Meli

    Adam Shankman is the director and producer of the exuberant musical remake of Hairspray, the producer of the top-grossing Step Up films, the director of the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller A Walk to Remember starring Mandy Moore, and the director of Bringing Down the House starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah. Adam has also directed episodes of Modern Family and Glee, and he was a popular judge on So You Think You Can Dance.

    TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

    Photo credit: Andy DeLay

    Laura L. Sullivan is a former newspaper editor, biologist, social worker, and deputy sheriff who writes because storytelling is the easiest way to do everything in the world. Her books include Love By the Morning StarDelusion, and Ladies in Waiting. Laura lives on the Florida coast.

    FACEBOOK | GOODREADS


    Other Books in the Series

    Add to Goodreads

    Title & Series: GIRL ABOUT TOWN (A Lulu Kelly Mystery)
    Authors: Adam Shankman, Laura L. Sullivan
    Release date: April 19, 2016
    Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
    Pages: 336
    Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description…

    Not too long ago, Lucille O’Malley was living in a tenement in New York. Now she’s Lulu Kelly, Hollywood’s newest It Girl. She may be a star, but she worries that her past will catch up with her. Back in New York she witnessed a Mafia murder, and this glamorous new life in Tinseltown is payment for her silence.

    Dashing Freddie van der Waals, the only son of a New York tycoon, was a playboy with the world at his feet. But when he discovered how his corrupt father really made the family fortune, Freddie abandoned his billions and became a vagabond. He travels the country in search of redemption and a new identity, but his father will stop at nothing to bring him home.

    When fate brings Lulu and Freddie together, sparks fly—and gunshots follow. Suddenly Lulu finds herself framed for attempted murder. Together, she and Freddie set out to clear her name. But can they escape their pasts and finally find the Hollywood ending they long for?

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | SIMON & SCHUSTER | GOODREADS

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    MURDER AMONG THE STARS Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

    I am super excited to be a stop on the MURDER AMONG THE STARS Blog Tour and to share an interview with Author Laura L. Sullivan in which she talks favorite and challenging scenes, favorite quotes, which character she would be, and more!

    I also have a copy of MURDER AMONG THE STARS for giveaway. So if you’re in the U.S. and you’d like the chance to win this second book in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries, be sure to enter in the Rafflecopter.

    As a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers, I adore this series about Lulu Kelly. The authors made murder a lot of fun to read about. (And I have to admit that it’s pretty awesome that it’s co-authored by the very talented Adam Shankman.)


    About MURDER AMONG THE STARS

    Add to Goodreads

    Title & Series: MURDER AMONG THE STARS (A Lulu Kelly Mystery)
    Authors: Adam Shankman, Laura L. Sullivan
    Release date: June 13, 2017
    Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
    Pages: 320
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description…

    A murderer is picking off the young Hollywood starlets gathered at the swanky Hearst Castle, and Lulu Kelly might be next—unless she can find the killer first in this glitzy, glamorous, and cinematic sequel to acclaimed film producer/director Adam Shankman and coauthor Laura Sullivan’s Girl About Town.

    After being framed for attempted murder, Lulu Kelly has earned a rest. Unfortunately, there is no rest in Hollywood for a rising starlet. Lulu and her boyfriend Freddie are invited to posh Hearst Castle, where Lulu will be competing against other young actresses for the role of a lifetime. But what’s a house party without a little murder?

    After a rival actress is found dead under the dining room table, Lulu makes it her mission to solve the mystery. But illusion is this town’s number one export, and it’s hard to tell the ambitious from the truly evil. As the clues pile up, Lulu and Freddie race to find the killer, even as Lulu becomes the next target.

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | SIMON & SCHUSTER | GOODREADS


    The Interview

    Q&A with Author Laura L. Sulliva

    Q. Who is your favorite character to write about in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries series – and why is she/he a favorite?

    Of course I delve most deeply into the main characters, but of the others, the gangster turned Hollywood mover and shaker Sal Benedetto is a favorite of mine. He’s not exactly an honorable character, but he’s far better than he could be in his situation. He’s the ultimate man of the era, expanding into the new opportunities of Hollywood. Plus, of course, he’s incredibly alluring…

    Q. What was your favorite scene (non-spoiler-y) to write in MURDER AMONG THE STARS – and why was it a favorite?

    The conversation around the dinner table just before the first body was discovered is my favorite. Lulu has a fairly shocking misunderstanding that leads to the revelation!

    Q. What was your most challenging scene (non-spoiler-y) to write in MURDER AMONG THE STARS – and why was it a challenge?

    It’s hard to go into any detail without giving anything away, but the scenes that make characters look absolutely guilty are among the most fun and challenging. You have to get so close… but not quite. Getting that absolute plausibility is difficult.

    Q. What are your top three character quotes and/or passages from any of the books in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries?

    Of Sal’s dark-bladed knife (and perhaps personality?):

    Let the show-offs have shiny blades. Serious killers have dark weapons.

    Of Marion Davies (could she have orchestrated the murder for her own entertainment?):

    She’s bored! A gin-soaked bird held prisoner in a gilded cage. The whole thing smacks of one big spectacle for her personal entertainment.

    I like this passage describing Hearst in a nutshell:

    Hearst made a ludicrous figure, bearish and lumbering beside the effervescent Marion. But he put on a game show, laughing at his own clumsiness. Lulu thought it must be easier to accept being a figure of fun when his signature on a check could buy anyone or anything. That would numb the sting.

    No, she realized a moment later. He was ordering them to laugh at him, just as he had ordered them to dance. If they’d done it on their own they might be banished, ruined. But he enjoyed having the power to tell people to laugh at him. Look, he seemed to say with his antics, I can be ridiculous and still be above you.

    Q. Which book in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries was your favorite to write – and why?

    I could never choose! The first was a joy because we were meeting these wonderful characters. In the second, they were old friends.

    Q. What do you enjoy most about writing a mystery/mysteries?

    I love the period when a friend is reading it and narrating their experience to me, when I realize that Adam and I set up exactly the right misdirections and red herrings.

    Page 20: “I know the cat did it!”

    Page 50: “Wait, no, it was the dog!”

    Page 150: “No, it was the budgie, and he’s setting the dog up!”

    Page 200: “But the cat doesn’t have an alibi!”

    Page 250: “Could it be the gerbil? No way. But wait, maybe… How could he…. ohhhhh yeah, it all makes sense now! How did I not see that on Page 20?”

    Q. What made you choose the setting for MURDER AMONG THE STARS?

    I’ve always been fascinated with William Randolph Hearst, Marion Davies, and Hearst Castle. When Adam and I were talking about the era, we discovered we shared that fascination. Adam toured the castle extensively, researching every detail, to get the setting just right.

    Q. What is it about Lulu Kelly that Freddie van der Waals adores the most?

    I think he loves that she can inhabit both worlds. She can fit in with the glitzy kind of people he grew up with, but she has no pretension and none of their less desirable traits. Yet she can also slum it in a diner and can mend her own clothes. She knows both world, rich and poor, and takes the best from both – and holds onto her core character through both.

    Q. If you were a character in the Lulu Kelly Mysteries who would you be – hero/heroine, villain, victim, suspect, someone else? And why would you choose to be that type of character?

    I’d like to be Lulu’s publicist Veronica – smart, cynical, practical, and efficient but with real loyalty and heart. She’s got a killer sense of humor, and pushes Lulu to be successful with a mix of pragmatism and sympathy. (Of course, I’d like to be Anita Loos just so I could have written Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, though I don’t envy her personal life or the compromises she sometimes had to make in her career.)


    About the Authors

    Photo credit: Andy DeLay

    Laura L. Sullivan is a former newspaper editor, biologist, social worker, and deputy sheriff who writes because storytelling is the easiest way to do everything in the world. Her books include Love By the Morning StarDelusion, and Ladies in Waiting. Laura lives on the Florida coast.

    FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

    Photo credit: Frank Meli

    Adam Shankman is the director and producer of the exuberant musical remake of Hairspray, the producer of the top-grossing Step Up films, the director of the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller A Walk to Remember starring Mandy Moore, and the director of Bringing Down the House starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah. Adam has also directed episodes of Modern Family and Glee, and he was a popular judge on So You Think You Can Dance.

    TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS


    Other Books in the Series

    Add to Goodreads

    Title & Series: GIRL ABOUT TOWN (A Lulu Kelly Mystery)
    Authors: Adam Shankman, Laura L. Sullivan
    Release date: April 19, 2016
    Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
    Pages: 336
    Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description…

    Not too long ago, Lucille O’Malley was living in a tenement in New York. Now she’s Lulu Kelly, Hollywood’s newest It Girl. She may be a star, but she worries that her past will catch up with her. Back in New York she witnessed a Mafia murder, and this glamorous new life in Tinseltown is payment for her silence.

    Dashing Freddie van der Waals, the only son of a New York tycoon, was a playboy with the world at his feet. But when he discovered how his corrupt father really made the family fortune, Freddie abandoned his billions and became a vagabond. He travels the country in search of redemption and a new identity, but his father will stop at nothing to bring him home.

    When fate brings Lulu and Freddie together, sparks fly—and gunshots follow. Suddenly Lulu finds herself framed for attempted murder. Together, she and Freddie set out to clear her name. But can they escape their pasts and finally find the Hollywood ending they long for?

    AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | INDIEBOUND | SIMON & SCHUSTER | GOODREADS


    The Giveaway

    Courtesy of the publisher….

    ONE (1) winner will receive a hardcover copy of MURDER AMONG THE STARS – US only

    • Must be 13 or older to enter
    • There will be ONE winner
    • Giveaway is US only
    • Giveaway ends on September 4th
    • Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and contacted by email
    • Winner has 72 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen
    • Prize will be sent by the publisher

    Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

    a Rafflecopter giveaway


    The Tour Schedule
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