Meet Lucy Hansen. She’s the richest teenager in the world – and possibly the shyest. She doesn’t flash her business to the paparazzi as she’s getting out of limos or send selfies while smoking salvia. No, Lucy hides behind her frizzy bangs, environmental causes and organic hemp-blend sweats. Her one true friend (and secret crush) Holden is the poorest kid in Beverly Hills – and probably the scrappiest. He interns for a famous private investigator, and when he asks Lucy to help him crack a case, her life turns from tame to tabloid, from glum to glam, from private to private eye. And when the trail leads directly to her hotel magnate father, it’s up to Lucy to solve the case by infiltrating Hollywood’s most elite and unwelcoming club: Celebutantes. Teens who are famous for, well… being famous.
Along the way, “LuHan” endures wardrobe malfunctions, fake romances, compromising videos-turned-YouTube hits, unflattering mug shots and – worst of all – a makeover. Now Lucy has to save her father, dodge the paparazzi, and keep her IRL ID on the DL – all while maybe, almost, possibly having her first real kiss.
Below is a guest post by author Amanda Mahan about how the whole story came about. Enjoy!
Heiress, P.I. – Conception Story
Heiress, P.I. is a young adult contemporary novel about the richest teen in the world getting made over and going under cover to solve a mystery. The concept is based on a bit of truth, which was stranger than fiction until it became fiction…
It started with Paris Hilton – the literary muse of all great writers, right? I’m pretty sure Michael Chabon credited her for “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” and Dave Eggers thanked her for inspiring “Zeitoun.” (Or not.) But she actually did inspire me to write “Heiress, P.I.”
A few years ago I read a story about how she gave a tip to the police that helped them solve a crime. Seriously, Paris Hilton – star of such notable films as “sex tape with Rick Salomon” – helped the police? A lot went through my head. How? Why? And seriously, how? Isn’t she, kind of… not the brightest rhinestone in the tiara?
The second thing that went through my mind was “what if”? Wouldn’t it be funny – and interesting – if in fact Ms. Hilton was actually brilliant and her whole party-girl, ditzy celebutante persona was just an act? Or better yet, a ruse. That was the first seed for “Heiress, P.I.”: what if the richest girl in the world had to go undercover to solve a mystery?
I should back up a bit though and say that I love tabloids. The trashier the better. Not alien-discovered-in-Tennessee-tree-house trashy, but the kind filled with Hollywood gossip. I know they completely make up stories and quote paparazzi as the “observers” with the kind of inside knowledge that can only come from stalking someone. I know most of it is fiction. I don’t care. It’s an escape. (Do I kind of hate myself for loving it? Yes, but only in the same way I hate myself after eating too much Halloween candy. I love me some Butterfingers and an InTouch.)
So I started to do “research” by reading all the tabloids and looking for stories that would work with my premise. (Note: I hesitate to even use the word “research” because how can what I did compare to say, the kind of research that Laura Hillenbrand did for “Unbroken”? It can’t.) But I filtered through the trash for gems and wondered what could be a reason for a wardrobe malfunction? Or a DUI? Or even a dreaded sex tape. I should also add that Paris was just the start of my research. A whole crop of delightful It Girls were courteous enough to get into some hot jams that really helped my story line. (Thanks gals!)
I had my premise, but then I needed to set the stage. There are basically two main places that super rich people live in America: New York and Los Angeles. Lucy had to be a bit sheltered and naïve and I felt like there was no way she could be a New Yorker. Having been born in New York I can tell you that she would’ve set any misunderstanding or confusion straight immediately (and somewhat abruptly) and the novel would’ve been over in five pages. Los Angeles it is! I remembered reading a story about the largest home in the U.S., which was owned by the parents of Tori
Spelling (whom I love) and that seemed like a fun setting that could potentially drive some humor. Once I had those key elements, I plotted it out, wrote and wrote and wrote, edited and edited and edited and finally published it. Thankfully there is a new batch of girls who are famous-for-being-famous and doing all kinds of outrageous things – just in time for the sequel.