The Lani Sarem “Sorry Not Sorry” tour has rolled right on into Vulture. Now, after the attack on readers and authors of color in YA that Vulture published earlier this year, I could give less than half a fart what they have to say about anything. But a lot of people who knew this story was being written promised it would be a good one. Writer Lila Shapiro doesn’t disappoint. Because the recap chapter this week is so short, allow me to pick out some choice quotes for you (although many of you have already skewered it in the comments on the last recap).
Her father died when she was a baby. She and her mother moved often, ten different states in Sarem’s first 19 years. Wherever they went, Sarem tried out for local theater productions and TV commercials, but all the best roles went to other girls. She realized that if she wanted to be a star, she’d have to write the script herself.
This explains so much, not just about the self-insert character she plans to play in the movie, but about her attitude toward other women who are performers. Women like Sofia prevented her from attaining the stardom she wanted, so they are obviously evil (as outlined in today’s chapter).
For about a decade, Sarem paid the bills by taking on entertainment gigs in Vegas and on the road. She worked at David Copperfield’s theater for a while.
So, for all those who’ve wondered in the comments, yes, she had practical experience working at a theater for a real live magic show. And somehow, none of that practical experience made it into her book.
“When I started writing, I really wanted all the things that I couldn’t have at that moment,” she said. “I wanted somebody’s love story to work out. I wanted this character to have all the things I was lacking, and then live vicariously through her.”
I suppose it’s refreshing to have someone admit that their character is 100% self-insert, rather than insisting everyone is reading too much into and they’re like, oh my gosh, so different. But this is more or less the same reason everyone writes fiction; they want to see something happen that didn’t happen, whether it’s a bullied high school girl using telekinesis to kill her classmates at the prom or a single-minded sea captain steering his whaling ship and crew to their doom. So, it’s not so much she wanted this stuff to happen to the character and she would live vicariously through the character. It’s that she wrote a wishful-thinking autobiography.
Thomas Ian Nicholas was also interviewed for this story:
Later, I spoke to Nicholas as well and asked what drew him to the script. He mostly spoke about himself, saying he was from Vegas and that his great-uncle was John Scarne, a Vegas magician who served as Paul Newman’s hand double in The Sting.
This more or less confirms, in my mind, that what we’re dealing with at the heart of this con job are two people who’ve lived in proximity to fame but never actually breached the barrier to it, thinking they have far more potential and cachet than they actually do.
The entire article is a gem and provides some dismayed chuckles from second-hand embarrassment as Sarem and Nicholas claim to have sold an impossible number of books at comic conventions, compare their scam to women’s suffrage (yes, really), state that three different editors worked on the manuscript, and insist that Nicholas’s star power has been the driving force behind the book’s overwhelming and totally valid success. But it all ends on a sour note; Wizard World has invited Sarem and Nicholas to all seventeen of their conventions in the coming year. Though they may have become infamous rather than famous, they’re still profiting, while legitimate authors couldn’t buy the type of welcome that’s being rolled out for them.