J. Alex Cook is a lowly, and content, production assistant on the hit television show The Fourth Estate when he gets pulled out from behind the scenes and dumped in front of the camera because the extras cast agency didn’t send over a needed type. When a line directed at him hits a nerve he retorts inappropriately, but instead of getting fired, Fourth‘s showrunner finds himself fascinated.
A year later, Alex is a star.
The plot of Starling is set in motion by the classic discovered-in-a-diner trope. But Alex is no Lana Turner. To be frank, Lana Turner wasn’t even Lana Turner, because that discovered in a diner story was largely manufactured as part of the studio marketing of her, her brand, and her films.
It’s been strange, writing a novel about being chosen when it’s not something Erin or I really believe in. Yes, we love stories like Harry Potter and Star Wars and the The Hunger Games. The narrative of being chosen is nearly always compelling, frequently incredibly sexy, and generally cheering, even if most of us will never be struck by that type of lightning.
In many ways, our hero Alex isn’t either. He doesn’t want to be a star. In fact, he’s working his mighty fine ass off to achieve his behind-the-scenes dreams when he’s plucked from obscurity. Having already escaped his toxic small town in Indiana, Alex is struggling his way to happiness and success with his best friend Gemma in Los Angeles when everything goes weird.
So in away, Alex gets chosen because he is already doing everything he can to live the life he wants. He also gets chosen because luck is strange — it’s not all good or bad — and a lot of what Starling is about is how the fairytale can be challenging, miserable, and hard.
To that end, we’re starting up a weekly feature on this blog called Do the thing!
Every Monday, we’ll throw up a post with that title and a few words about our own motivation, self-doubt, and getting it done anyway. But the important part is that you comment. Tell us what you want to do, and we’ll tell you to go for it and give you advice where we can.
Why do our opinions matter?
Well, they don’t really, but sometimes you just need someone to do a little cheerleading and tell you yes. We think people should go after what they want — and get the encouragement to do it — more often.
Ideally, everyone who visits this blog will chime in with their encouragement and advice too, so we can start what is traditionally the worst day of the week with a lot of positive energy towards making our dreams come true.
We’ll make sure anonymous commenting is on (please play nice, and please be patient, we will need to approve replies from first-time and anonymous commentors), so everyone can be as public or private as they want about finding the help, push, or advice they need.
I’ve been doing this on Tumblr for the last week, and it’s been amazing. I suspect it might be more amazing with threaded commenting (sorry Tumblr, you know I love you, and it’s how Alex and Gemma met, but sometimes you just don’t work right!)
So on that note! Do the thing!
What are you trying to achieve? And what do you need to do the thing?