Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Guest Post + Giveaway: The Notorious Pagan Jones by Nina Berry

I am thrilled to be a stop on the book tour for The Notorious Pagan Jones by Nina Berry hosted by Kismet Book Touring! Today, I have an guest post for your reading pleasure, but be sure to check out the tour schedule below, or click the banner above, for more!
Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Title: The Notorious Pagan Jones
Author: Nina Berry
Series: Pagan Jones #1
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon Barnes & Noble | IndieBound
Pagan Jones went from America's sweetheart to fallen angel in one fateful night in 1960: the night a car accident killed her whole family. Pagan was behind the wheel and driving drunk. Nine months later, she's stuck in the Lighthouse Reformatory for Wayward Girls and tortured by her guilt—not to mention the sadistic Miss Edwards, who takes special delight in humiliating the once-great Pagan Jones.

But all of that is about to change. Pagan's old agent shows up with a mysterious studio executive, Devin Black, and an offer. Pagan will be released from juvenile detention if she accepts a juicy role in a comedy directed by award-winning director Bennie Wexler. The shoot starts in West Berlin in just three days. If Pagan's going to do it, she has to decide fast—and she has to agree to a court-appointed "guardian," the handsome yet infuriating Devin, who's too young, too smooth, too sophisticated to be some studio flack.

The offer's too good to be true, Berlin's in turmoil and Devin Black knows way too much about her—there's definitely something fishy going on. But if anyone can take on a divided city, a scheming guardian and the criticism of a world that once adored her, it's the notorious Pagan Jones. What could go wrong?

10 Things Readers Should Know Before Reading

Well, you can just jump in and read the book. Everything you need is in there. But, now that you’re here, why not sit back and learn a few facts that will not only give you insider knowledge and insight as you read, but will allow you to wow friends and strangers alike with your savvy about Hollywood child stars, the Cold War, and espionage.

Pagan Jones was based partly on sixties teen stars Sandra Dee, Sue Lyon, and Hayley Mills, with a sprinkling of Drew Barrymore on top.

But Pagan has her own past and makes her own mistakes. And, as far as I know, none of those actresses became spies.

Not all spies work undercover. Some of them were (and perhaps still are) famous people.

I was inspired to create a character who was both a famous and a spy after I learned that Julia Child and Harry Houdini spied for the United States. Casanova, Josephine Baker, writers Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming, Mata Hari, mobster Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Shi Pei Pu (aka M. Butterfly), and baseball player Moe Berg were all well known public figures who did clandestine work for their countries. We’re used to thinking of spies as people working under the cover of a false identity, but many of these people used their fame to help their cause.

My version, Pagan Jones, is a child movie star whose fame, family, and bad reputation give her unique access to people and places that happen to come in handy for Western intelligence agencies, during the Cold War.

A high-profile Hollywood movie was shooting in West Berlin when the Berlin Wall went up in August of 1961.

Once I learned that, I knew I had a cover story to get teen movie actress Pagan Jones to Berlin. The real movie, a darkly farcical comedy titled One, Two, Three, was directed by the famous Billy Wilder and starred James Cagney. When the Wall went up the night of August 12, One, Two, Three was forced to move to sound stages in Munich. So I had the same thing happen to my fictional film, Neither Here Nor There, which is also a darkly farcical film directed by a fictional Billy Wilder-inspired director, Bennie Wexler. My imaginary nasty lead actor Jimmy Brennan, however, is nothing like the notoriously generous and kind James Cagney. The table read and film shooting scenes are based on research and my years of working in modern day Hollywood.

Pagan Jones is complicated. She’s not perfect. I wanted her that way.

She’s full of love, but guilty of a terrible sin. She’s an addict working on her recovery, yet she’s funny as hell. She has moments of great confidence and appalling weakness. She’s trying to make the world a better place, but she can’t play by the rules. She can read you like a book and manipulate you with a smile. There is no better liar with an honest heart.

So often it’s the boys in stories who have the thorny past lives, who carry terrible burdens while changing the world. I wanted to write a teen girl that was as complex and full of regret and laughter as any man.

Other major characters in the book were inspired by actors popular in the early 1960s.

The mysterious Devin Black’s dark hair and blue eyes were stolen from the ridiculously handsome young French actor Alain Delon, and Pagan’s co-star in the movie, German actor Thomas Kruger, was an homage to heartthrob Tab Hunter.

But some character are taken right out of history. Pagan tangles with the real leader of East Germany and head of the East German secret service. I stuck as close to reality with them as I could. That was as chilling and dangerous as it gets.

The leader of East Germany threw a garden party the night the Berlin Wall went up – to keep any possible opponents from interfering with the Wall.

He held the party in a former hunting lodge once owned by infamous Nazi Hermann Goering, and essentially kept his “guests” captive there with armed troops while the Wall went up. My favorite historical detail about that party: the trapped guests were given lots of vodka and shown a Soviet comedy about a bunch of people trapped on a boat when captive circus animals escape called Each Man For Himself to keep them occupied.

Once I learned that and the fact that East German leader Walter Ulbricht had a teenage daughter, I knew that Pagan would go to that party, and that she’d be on the wrong side of the Wall the night it went up.

I became obsessed with the 1961 Dior suit-dresses while researching this book.

I normally don’t give a rip about designer clothes or fashion. But then I saw a Dior suit-dress online and developed a strange obsession with it. Pagan Jones the clotheshorse was born (she’s also a fan of Chanel and Givenchy), and the glorious Dior suit-dress serves her well during some very scary moments in the book. You can see it here on my Pagan Jones Pinterest board:

The last one hundred pages of the book will take your breath away.

Once Pagan makes the decision to defy authority, hold onto your hats, socks and little white gloves. The entire East German army may stand in her way, but they’ve never dealt with anyone quite like Pagan before.

Women could not get their own credit cards in 1961.

Which is why I had Pagan find her father’s stash of cash to buy her own plane ticket to Berlin. Women could only get credit if they were married, the credit was also in their husband’s name, and if he co-signed the application. But unmarried women could not get credit or charge cards. That didn’t change until the 1970s!

I dedicated the book to the person who first inspired me to create the character of Pagan Jones, my best girlfriend, who was an alcoholic.

Everything my friend went through helped me depict Pagan’s struggle with her addiction. And my own experience as the close friend of an addict played a part in how Pagan’s friend Mercedes, and other characters, interact with her. Unfortunately, my friend didn’t get a happy ending. So I decided to write one.

About the Author

Nina Berry has been working in Hollywood for years, and is no stranger to the glitz and glamour of movie and TV sets. She took her love of old movies, her knowledge from her day job as well as a heartbreaking personal story of the loss of a friend who succumbed to alcoholism to create the world of THE NOTORIOUS PAGAN JONES.


Thanks to the amazing team at Harlequin Teen, each stop on the tour will be offering up a copy of THE NOTORIOUS PAGAN JONES, so be sure and follow along for more guest posts, interviews and chances to win! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form.

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Tour Schedule

Monday, July 20th - Reading Lark - Interview
Wednesday, July 22nd - Bookish Lifestyle - Guest Post
Friday, July 24th - Actin' Up with Books - Interview


Monday, July 27th - Rockin' Book Reviews - Interview
Wednesday, July 29th - Fiktshun - Guest Post
Friday, July 31st - Bewitched Bookworms - Guest Post

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