Fifteen Minutes of Shame
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What happens when America's favorite TV dating expert finds out on national television that her husband is cheating? Darby Vaughn's fifteen minutes of fame quickly spins into fifteen minutes of shame: Not only is the most humiliating moment of her life splashed across every supermarket tabloid and celebrity gossip show, but her reputation as America's love guru is shot.
To make matters worse, her fans are turning on her, her book sales have tanked, and her love life is fodder for late-night television. If Darby breaks her own zero-tolerance policy for cheaters and takes her philandering husband back, her career will be over. But if she sticks to her own rules, she'll lose the only man she's ever loved.
Lisa Daily is a real-life TV relationships expert and the author of Stop Getting Dumped! All You Need to Know to Make Men Fall Madly in Love with You and Marry "The One" in 3 Years of Less. She's a syndicated relationships columnist who's been seen everywhere from iVillage Life to MTV to Entertainment Tonight, and is quoted everywhere from Cosmopolitan and US Weekly to The New York Times. Women from sixteen to sixty flock to Lisa's Dreamgirl Academy classes across the country. Lisa lives in Florida with her family; this is her first novel. For more, visit www.lisadaily.com.
Q. Darby Vaughn is a relationship expert like yourself. What inspired you to write her story?
The week before my dating advice book Stop Getting Dumped! was first published, a very prominent dating expert was going through a very public divorce, and she was really taking a lot of heat in the media. At the time, my husband and I had just been married a few yearsI remember thinking how awful it would be to go through one of the most difficult times in your life with the entire world watchingand the idea for Fifteen Minutes of Shame was born.
As I was developing the story, a lot of the funniest scenes dealt with the world of televisionthe disparity between how some things (and some people( look on TV, versus in real life, has always been hilarious to me.
Q. Your previous book, Stop Getting Dumped!, is a guide on dating and relationshipstopics that are part of the plotline and the characters in Fifteen Minutes of Shame. What did the fictional form allow you to do that Stop Getting Dumped! did not?
Well, mostly, it allowed me to make stuff up, instead of doing all that pesky research. I've been writing nonfiction in one form or another for my entire career, and the process of writing a novel was different, scary, exhilarating, emotional, hilariousan amazing experience. Also, instead of merely telling my readers how to find the perfect man, I got to create one from scratch.
Q. Throughout the book you include dating tips from Darby's Dreamgirl Academy and advice columns, which humorously punctuate scenes and create conflicts, as Darby ends up questioning her own advice on cheaters. Do you feel that the dating advice Darby gives fictionally can be used in real life? What do you hope readers will take away from these tips?
Absolutely the relationship tips in the book can be used in real life; in fact, many of the tips are taken from advice I've given on television or in my advice column. What I hope readers will take away is that sometimes you know the smart thing to do but want to do the crazy thing and follow your heart anyway. I also loved the idea of showing that even when you do everything right, sometimes things don't turn out the way you plan, and that's okay.
Q. Your novel uniquely explores the positive relationship Darby developed with her stepchildren and how their father's divorce affected them. Why did you decide to address the issue of stepparenthood and make it a key part of the storyline?
Oddly enough, it didn't start out that way. In the concept stage, the children were a plot devicea way to add more challenge to Darby's life, and solve a particular scenario. In writing her character and the story, the children became more and more central to Darby's story; I think it sort of snuck up on her (and me( much in the way stepchildren do in real life. Many women think of stepchildren as a lovely part of a package deal that comes with their future husband, but anyone who lives with children knows that they are (or will become( the center of the family. After a few dozen rounds of science projects and chicken pox and necklaces made out of macaroni, a stepmom wakes up one day and realizes that the children have cemented themselves to her heartand in those moments when she's holding the barf bucket at 2 A.M., or digging through the junk drawer for the makings of a pirate costume for tomorrow morninga stepmom feels like a real mom.
I also loved the idea of plopping this fabulous single girl Darby right into the middle of suburbia, the kind of place where mothering is a competitive sport, with no preparation and a husband who carries her over the threshold, hands her the keys to the minivan, and then takes off for two weeks on a business trip.
- Do you identify with Darby and her public breakup, or did you secretly think she got what she deserved after presenting herself so perfectly all these years?
- Darby has a firm policy against cheating, but reconsiders in her own life. Should someone ever stay with someone who has cheated on them?
- Is Will a good guy who loves his kids and wants to save his family? Or is he a scumbag cheater who lets women boss him around?
- Do you think that Holt's behavior was gallant or unethical?
- Many notable relationships experts have faced their own romantic challenges. Do you think they're frauds? Or can someone who screws things up in their own relationships still give good advice?
- In literature, stepmothers are traditionally portrayed as evil. How did Darby's stepmother relationship make you feel? Do you think stepmothers are real mothers? Or are they just fill-ins for the real thing?
- How did Fifteen Minutes of Shame make you feel about the rights of stepparents? Should stepparents get visitation or custody?
- What do you think the future holds for Darby, Will, Gigi, and Holt?
- What do you think is best for the children, and what will they be telling their therapist in twenty years?
- Darby's made a life and a career of protecting herself from hurt. Why do you think itís so hard for so many people to open themselves up to the vulnerability of love? What has protecting herself cost Darby? What has trying to protect yourself from hurt ever cost you?