I Wrote a Novel A few Actual Superstar — And She ‘Cannot Wait to Learn It’ (Unique)theinsiderinsight

My 13-year-old self wouldn’t have believed it. On a beautiful day in Beverly Hills, I ate lunch with Oscar-winner Tatum O’Neal and her daughter Emily McEnroe on the notorious movie star eatery, Spago. It was 2017 and I used to be there to interview Tatum for The New York Times about her podcast and the way she was forging a brand new path for herself. Tatum has had a really public decades-long battle with drug habit, and at that time, seven years in the past, she was nonetheless making an attempt to make a comeback after many years of preventing that stigma.  

But, she had the identical brilliant smile and raspy voice that I had remembered from her motion pictures. She was in her 50s now, making an attempt to not be so embittered about Hollywood. And in that second, staring throughout the desk from her as we picked at our salads, she was each bit the woman with the powerful exterior and susceptible inside I had linked to all these years in the past in motion pictures like Paper Moon, The Dangerous Information Bears and Little Darlings. Interviewing her felt like interviewing probably the most intimate model of myself.

Tatum O’Neal.
Nathan Congleton/NBCUniversal through Getty

To know why Tatum had struck such a chord with Gen X’ers like me, you need to perceive that till 16 Candles got here alongside, there have been only a few motion pictures about angsty women exterior of Carrie, Quick Instances at Ridgemont Excessive and Grease. And even then, Stockard Channing was 33 years previous when she performed Rizzo. I linked with Tatum as a result of she was enjoying an actual woman who wasn’t simply near my age, but additionally near the age of the characters she performed.

Tatum busted into the film enterprise at simply 10 years previous together with her Oscar-winning efficiency of a cigarette-smoking orphan in Paper Moon. In The Dangerous Information Bears, she was only a child with a single mother promoting star maps on the facet of the highway till her coach, the beer-guzzling Buttermaker, recruits her to be the lone feminine pitcher on a rag-tag boys baseball crew. 

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She was 16 in Little Darlings when she performed Ferris, the little wealthy woman who confirmed as much as camp carrying a white swimsuit (a nod to one in every of her father’s girlfriends, Bianca Jagger?). The minute she boarded the bus, she threw punches at her co-star, a chain-smoking powerful woman, Kristy McNichol, and virtually efficiently seduced Armand Assante, probably the most good-looking camp counselor you’ll ever lay your eyes on. At its core, Little Darlings was a young story about two lonely women bonding over their must placed on a troublesome exterior about their lack of expertise with boys. 

Writer Haley Krischer.

Lisa Kollberg

For all of us Seventies women whose dads didn’t stay at residence, for these of us with single mothers, for these of us pretending to be somebody they weren’t, those like me who placed on a steely exterior round boys to guard our hearts, Tatum was our individual. 

I had profiled different celebrities, however whereas consuming lunch with Tatum that day, I finished gawking at her from afar and noticed her as an individual, albeit somebody who had very completely different experiences than me. 

Then within the oddest flip of occasions, after the article got here out, Tatum and I stayed in contact. We turned pleasant. We spoke about motion pictures and our dads and our ex-husbands. We spoke about our kids. As soon as, she known as me from a restaurant in LA and requested the place I used to be. “On the mall,” I mentioned, laughing. I used to be at a mall in New Jersey and he or she was at a superb restaurant in West Hollywood. So we had been a little completely different.   

‘The place Are You, Echo Blue?’.


Just a few years later, I started ruminating about writing a e book a few very well-known baby star with an abusive mum or dad, somebody like Tatum, or Drew Barrymore, Lindsay Lohan and even Judy Garland.  

The place Are You, Echo Blue? is about probably the most well-known baby star of the 90s who goes lacking on the eve of the millennium, and a journalist (who can also be an obsessed fan) who searches for her. Household dynamics is my wheelhouse. So, for this e book, I needed to discover the connection between an ego-ridden actor and his younger daughter who eclipses his fame. 

Most writers are taught to write down what they know, however the tough half in writing my e book was that  Tatum was somebody I really knew. So I established tight parameters. For one, I wouldn’t write something within the e book that she had advised me privately. I needed to preserve private particulars out of it. 

Any analysis I used to create the character Echo Blue must come from interviews Tatum had completed over time, from her e book, A Paper Life, or the numerous tv appearances, articles and images that had been written about her. 

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I utilized the identical guidelines when it got here to her father, Ryan O’Neal, and her legendary agent, Sue Mengers. Echo Blue’s father and agent are fully fictionalized variations, an alternate historical past if you’ll. 

As a lot as Where Are You, Echo Blue? is a fictional retelling of Tatum’s youth, it was additionally necessary to reimagine Echo’s life away from the highlight. I didn’t wish to write a biography about baby stars. You may learn Jennette McCurdy’s poignant memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, for that. There’s a motive my e book’s premise is centered on Echo Blue’s disappearance. Fame can destroy probably the most grounded adults — what should it do to kids? Do baby stars have an outlet? What do they seem like with out the media glare? 

The core of the e book asks this query: What occurs if a toddler star takes her life into her personal arms? That is the distinction between journalism and fiction: It gave me the chance to honor Tatum’s experiences, but additionally utterly divert from her life and sink into a personality of my very own. 

Tatum has made a exceptional restoration from her 2020 overdose and stroke. Fortunately, I used to be capable of speak to her concerning the e book and defined that it was impressed by her, and lots of different of the greats who began younger and had been underneath the microscope of the general public eye at such a younger age. She was so joyful to listen to that I used to be writing about her and different younger actresses. She advised me she couldn’t wait to learn it. 

This e book is a fictionalized model of a gifted actress who impressed me as a toddler, and nonetheless conjures up me right this moment. As Tatum mentioned to an interviewer as soon as about her life: “I’m one sturdy b—.” So is Echo Blue. 

Where Are You, Echo Blue comes out July 16, and is out there for preorder now, wherever books are bought.

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