Monkey Star, Brenda Scott Royce
Last week I was at the West Hollywood Book Fair where I didn't know a soul although I ended up meeting some really cool people. One person I got to meet was Brenda Scott Royce. Brenda and I have been exchanging messages back and forth so it was fun to meet her in person. I love meeting other writers and creative people and Brenda is super nice and sweet.
I received Monkey Star along with the first book of the series, Monkey Love. I was in the mood for a fun novel and what's more fun than a novel with a naughty monkey? I chose to read the second book, Monkey Star, first because it features the main character of Holly, doing a stint in Hollywood. I just can't not read a book about a girl from the east coast and her adventures in Hollywood.
Holly is employed as a general girl Friday, if you will. Need an odd job done? Call Holly. When her best friend Carter goes into labor in where else- Hollywood- Holly flies out to be with her. Carter's actor husband Danny takes Holly to work on a film set where by a stroke of luck, she gets a job as an animal trainer. Good thing she has experience with a mischievous little monkey back home...
Holly jumps into her role as animal trainer while she trades flirtations with a hunky leading man. Complications arise of course, as she tries to sort out her feelings about her boyfriend, family issues and whether or not to make California her permanent home.
Monkey Star is an easy, quick read that flows well. All the elements of the book come together in the end which is nicely concluded and I adore happy endings in books. I must go back and read Monkey Love now. I'm looking forward to seeing what else Brenda is going to come up with! How often do you get to read about monkeys in women's fiction? Not very!
It was fun meeting you at the West Hollywood book fair. I was so nervous that day. How do you feel about doing book fairs, festivals, panels and having to speak in front of people?
I especially enjoy book fairs and festivals because when I’m not signing my own books, I can slip away to meet other authors and pick up their books. As for public speaking, for me it’s like a rollercoaster ride—exciting, exhilarating, and when it’s over I feel like throwing up.
What were you like when you were a little girl? What were your hopes, dreams and aspirations?
Picture a bedroom covered with photos and posters of monkeys and apes. Propped in one corner would be my unicycle, stilts, and pogo stick. My tap shoes are under the bed, plays and books on acting piled high on the dresser. I had three main career goals, all wildly impractical—Olympic gymnast, famous novelist, movie star, and primatologist (a la Jane Goodall). I can’t do back flips anymore, and I never could act, but my early aspirations to write and work with primates have both persisted.
If you could hang out with any five people-dead or alive- in the entire world, who would you chose and why?
Off the top of my head (besides my family, of course): Charles Darwin, Jane Goodall, Katharine Hepburn, Jane Austen, and Stephen Colbert. What a fun cocktail party we could have!
Did you grow up in the Los Angeles area?
No. I spent the first half of my childhood in upstate New York. The town we lived in the longest was Queensbury, outside of Glens Falls. When I was thirteen, we moved to Venice, Florida. I’ve been in L.A. for about fifteen years now, and I love it.
What is your dream vacation?
An African safari, or a cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Or really, one week in my own house, alone … all alone … with no alarm clocks or telephones, and no one to challenge me for the remote control. Oh, and there’d be room service, housekeeping, and the occasional visit from a masseuse.
Were you inspired in any way by Ross on Friends when he had a pet monkey? You’ve worked with monkeys before- what do you think of people who want one as a pet?
Marcel the monkey in “Friends” is the same type of monkey as Tallulah (a capuchin), but I wasn’t inspired by the show. When I started writing Monkey Love, I was working as a chimpanzee caregiver at a wildlife sanctuary. I initially considered incorporating a chimp into the plot of my book, but I thought a monkey would be more manageable in a Manhattan apartment.
I totally understand the desire to have a pet monkey—in fact I begged my mother for years to let me get one. Now I’m glad she said no. Anyone who wants a pet monkey really needs to know all the issues involved and understand what they’re getting into. It’s like living with a toddler who never outgrows the terrible twos.
Are you planning on writing more books about Holly? She is a fun character but I’m partial to Tallulah the monkey!
I’d like to do a third Monkey book, but it’s not in the works yet. Right now, I’m working on a more serious (but still quirky) novel. I’m also writing for a children’s television series, which is loads of fun. But rest assured, if there’s a third Holly book, Tallulah will once again steal the show!
What else do you do besides write? What is a typical day for you?
I have a full-time job at the Los Angeles Zoo! I’m the editor of the zoo magazine—the perfect job for a lifelong animal lover. Typically I get up before six to get my 3½-year-old son ready for preschool (or Grandma’s house, depending on what day it is), drop him and (again, depending on the day) my stepsons off at their various schools, and drive in to the Zoo.
After a full day at the zoo, I pick up the aforementioned kid(s) and go home to dinner, thankfully usually prepared by my husband (his job as a college professor means he gets home hours before me). In the evenings, I try to devote my attention to the family, but deadlines often get in the way. Most nights I skitter between kids, husband, laundry, and computer.
What is your five year plan?
My dog ate my five-year plan. They’re almost as bad as monkeys.