This is a thriller. I’d never written one before – introduce a gun and everything moves into different territory. The idea came to me when a film actress friend of mine told me about her stand-in, how the woman knew just when she wanted a Polo mint, how it was kind of eerie how this woman sort of looked like her and had to shadow her life.. It set me thinking about life’s inequalities, how a stand-in is a person’s doppelganger, their ghostly less-successful self. They are simply there to set up a shot, yet they too might have yearnings to be a great actress., to be centre stage rather than invisible . And how, if driven to extremes, the resentment might drive someone to murder. It’s narrated by an unreliable narrator, our heroine Jules, who we slowly realize is quite unhinged. But after what she’s been through, we can understand why.
I had a fascinating time researching the book. It took several years. I immersed myself in the film business. I went to Hollywood and talked to stand-ins, the invisible people. I visited a women’s prison in upstate New York. I sat in cafes on Sunset Boulevard and tape recorded the chatter at other tables. I walked and walked around Los Angeles and Manhattan, seeing them through the eyes of a seething and intelligent woman, my anti-heroine Jules. It was as much an acting exercise as a writing one. The novel was optioned as a movie for Angelica Huston, way back in the early nineties, and I went to Hollywood to write the script. That never happened so I’m now writing it again, for another studio. It’s not just people who can transform themselves, and appear in another incarnation.
Jules is an unknown English actress with a precarious career and a wayward but irresistible boyfriend, Trevor. But then she gets the break of a lifetime – a part as stand-in for Lila Dune, American film star and sex-symbol – and her world is transformed.
“Tainted love, jealousy and brilliant revenge…this book has got the lot.”
“Moggach’s examination of the unbalanced mind is spellbinding, and the characters horribly believable. An enthralling read, this is Deborah Moggach’s best novel yet.”
“Intelligent, persuasive, sensuous, perceptive…what an accomplishment!”