Monique Muro

Author Interviews

Interview with Brandie Knight

When I think of Tommy Chong, I think of a smoke-filled room and a bellyful of laughs, and no one knows this better than Hollywood Under the Covers author Brandie Knight. Witness to years of scandal and deceit in the Hollywood industry, Knight came upon Chong while doing an interview for an entertainment magazine, her gig as a road manager for the infamous pot-smoker landing her several projects in the exotic realm of entertainment, including the production of two radio shows, a documentary entitled a/k/a Tommy Chong, as well as several hit shows on Fox, NBC, E!, and ABC.

As her  involvement in the Hollywood industry took off, Knight eventually became privy to the deeper, colder side of Hollywood, a cloudier place than she ever imagined. Documenting the scandals and rampant deceit she witnessed over her extensive career in the Hollywood industry, her first book offers celebrity chasers everywhere a raw glimpse under the silk sheets, if you will, after the cameras are turned off, and the lives of celebrities as we know them go from glam to sham.

The story?  Four characters: Jake Slader, a stalwart talent agent with too much power, Marcus Vaughn, an international heart throb, Lacy Fox, the Mistress of  Romance, and Dario Capriano, a rising superstar. Unfolding with as much scandal as a daytime soap, Lacy’s true birthright finds its way into Slader’s sleazy hands, Capriano chooses fame over his family heritage and becomes corralled in the inevitable pitfalls of fame, and Vaughn’s infatuation with two women, one of them Lacy Fox, tailspins into disaster. What’s more, the fictional characters are based on real people in the Hollywood industry. Can we say sizzle?

I was lucky enough to interview the Hollywood insider to probe for what else? Juice!

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

My first taste of the industry was when I worked at a 20,000 seat amphitheater. I was exposed to the unique lifestyles of the world’s most famous bands and the unbelievable behind the scenes shenanigans. I was there during the MTV tour when Milli Vanilli was caught lip syncing in the act. I really became a Hollywood insider when I met the legendary comedian Tommy Chong of Cheech & Chong. I interviewed him for my entertainment magazine. A week later, I started working for him. By working for the legend, many doors opened for me in the entertainment industry where I was able to create and produce my own projects.

When did you decide to put down in words the scenes in Hollywood that normally remain behind closed doors? Did a particular incident inspire you?

As a teenager, I knew that I wanted to become a Hollywood novelist, but I needed to live the life in order to write about it from an insider’s point of view. I ventured into the industry and kept journals along the way. Hollywood Under the Covers was initially inspired when I attended a television network party. The event was mixed with celebrities from the network’s new television line up and the media, who were there to conduct interviews for publicity purposes. It was a lavish party with live music, dancing, and complimentary alcohol and food. At the beginning of the evening, everyone was sober and acting proper. By the end of the night, everyone’s behavior was off the record. I found the setting to be very entertaining. In chapter five of my new novel, I write about this event.

Given your background in the industry, did you have to do much research for the book?

No. My novel pretty much wrote itself with the storyline being based on true people and events. However, I did have to tone down the truth due to its explicit nature.

How long did it take you to write?

The manuscript took me two years to write while I was actively involved with other entertainment projects. The sequel should take me about nine months or less to write after I finish my book tour.

The title is great, by the way. And most of us understand its connotation. How did you come up with it?

The working title was Hollywood Reality Check, but I wanted something that gave the reader a bigger hint of what the novel was about. One evening in Los Angeles, I was brainstorming with a comedian friend of mine. Hollywood Under the Covers rolled off his tongue. We looked at each other, and at the same time said, “It’s brilliant!”

Do the main 4 characters in the book comprise bits and pieces of people you’ve met along the way? Or are they actually based on 4 real people?

The four main characters are based after real people. I have met such unique and colorful individuals in the industry that naturally make dynamic characters.
It couldn’t have been easy to turn down big publishers who wanted to change the direction of your book. That’s something a lot of first-time novelists grapple with. What would you say to first-time writers with that concern?

It depends on how bad an author wants to be published. They should examine the pros and cons of allowing a publisher to make key element changes to their hard work. I would encourage writers to stay true to their creativity and find a publisher who appreciates their artistic expression.

On your website, there’s a warning about the book to anyone related to you. Why is that? Just how scandalous is it?

The author warning is done with humor and sincerity to caution people about the explicit material. I warned my family not to read my novel because of the graphic sex scenes, but they didn’t listen to me. It turns out they love the novel as a whole, but knowing that I wrote the smutty scenes is a little uncomfortable for them.

Have you received any negative feedback from anyone in the Hollywood industry who feels you may have falsely portrayed their “glamorous” lifestyle?

All the feedback I have received so far has been positive. I’ve had industry people convinced they know who the characters are based after and humored by the discreet storyline. At some point, I am sure I will get disgruntled feedback from the certain people.

You worked as a road manager for the infamous Tommy Chong. If you could describe him in one word, what would it be?


Which actors or actresses have you come across that don’t live up to the scandalous moniker you’ve ascribed to many members of the Hollywood industry?

Topher Grace and Kirkwood Smith. They are both great guys, and as far as I can tell, they live a non-scandalous lifestyle.

Which actors or actresses would you want to star in the film adaptation of Hollywood Under the Covers?

This is a challenging question. I would say Jessica Alba to play the protagonist Lacy Fox, and Tom Cruise to play the antagonist Jake Slader. I am picturing Tom Cruise’s character from “Tropic Thunder” because of the intensity that he captured. The rest of the actors should be cast by their chemistry.

Something I’m always interested in asking authors, what’s your favorite word?


On a more serious note, how do you like your pizza?

I like my pizza with pepperoni and green chili. It’s a New Mexico thing.

Interview with U.L. Harper

Visceral slam poet U.L. Harper was born in Los Angeles and raised in Long Beach. After a stint at Long Beach Poly, he pursued Journalism at the University of Cypress Lincoln Avenue, and became Editor in Chief at the Cypress Chronicle. Shortly thereafter, what began as a short story entitled The Resurrection of Greenwell, came full circle into what is now his debut novel, The Flesh Statue.

Where did you come up with the idea for The Flesh Statue? The Flesh Statue is a conglomerate of ideas but what tied it all together was the story of the main character’s grandfather, I think. His grandfather has Alzheimer’s and suffered a stroke, so he’s in a wheelchair with Alzheimer’s and he can’t really speak. Langley’s grandfather is the real reason he left home in the first place. Ironically, he has to come back home to move on with his life.

How long did it take you to write? It took about nine months to get done with the first three drafts and then after that it was another two years. Then it takes some avid reader two to three days to finish and then they rate it and I’m like thanks. Life is a just endeavor.

Are any of the characters based on real people? I don’t want to say characters are based on real people because it’s not really like that. But I do take specific characteristics from real life people. It helps with describing body language or with someone’s cadence as far as language goes. Get this, even the grandfather’s character isn’t based on my own grandfather who suffered a stroke of his own. He’s really based on my great grandmother who had a bad case of the Alzheimer’s.

How much of the novel did you have to research, and how much of it did you already have digested? I had a lot of it digested. When it came to the Alzheimer’s stuff I had to do research. I didn’t use most of the research. I just had to make it seem like the characters new what they were talking about. I had to research graffiti. That was fun.

You wrote a short story called The Resurrection of Greenwell. How exactly does that tie in with The Flesh Statue? How does the Resurrection of Greenwell tie in? The concept of an emotional and physical revolution started in “Greenwell”. Even the theme with the Alzheimer’s story stems from having an emotional revolution which is a concept from “Greenwell”. It’s funny because “Greenwell” was, unfortunately, a badly written short story. It was a great situation as one might put it but there weren’t really any characters. Once I began developing characters…well, the book is listed at 364 pages.

If this book were to be made into a film, who would you want to star as Langley? Remember that show Growing Pains? That character on there Richard Stabone. Whoever that actor is would be great.

Did you always want to be a writer? Since junior high I knew I liked writing. By my freshman year in high school I saw it as a craft. My first novel I had completed in high school. After that I did my second novel. None of which are The Flesh Statue so I didn’t always want to be a writer but always loved to write.

When did slam poetry first start becoming interesting to you? How did that come about? In reality, in retrospect, I did poetry as part of the process in developing narrative style and voice. All my pieces were an experiment. How I got to doing them live was a friend and I decided that we wanted to perform and that others would like to as well as long as they were getting published. So we published The Body Politic chapbooks once a month. We took submissions and invited everyone to the readings. Sometimes we had over forty people there. That was about ten years ago. We did about eleven or twelve issues.

What are you currently reading? Under The Dome by Stephen King. I’m not a King fan but outside of The Body I’ve never finished a story by him. I like to read authors I haven’t read. I’m also reading The Screwtape Letters, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

What is your writing style like? Do you do better writing in bits and pieces or for hours at a time? I like to write for hours at a time in bits and pieces. I used to go by word count but now I just make sure I get my chapter started enough so that by the next time I come back I can finish the chapter. Then I might take a day off to ingest whatever I just did. No, my chapters aren’t any longer than four pages on the word program. But don’t let anybody tell you different–writing isn’t just typing it out or writing. It’s thinking it out too, even when you’re not at the screen or paper. Writing is the process. Work-shopping a chapter, although you’re not writing, is part of the process, so… I can go on an on. That’s my style.

Are you working on anything currently? Any story ideas on the back burner? I’m working on this interesting new novel with the working title being Once Human, Now Food. I’m not going to get into it but I’ll tell you this: if you ever see a 15 foot tall man with a pale face and wide pointy shoulders with a bald head who eats people, don’t stick around to see if U.L. sent him. Run like tomorrow probably won’t happen. But it’s not a horror or vampire novel or anything like that. Should be fun.

I’ve read other interviews with you where you’ve mentioned you don’t have a favorite book. Why is that? I’ll be honest. The last book I really liked is always my favorite. I do have a cluster of my favorite ten but they’re not in any particular order: Sacrament, Imajica, The Road, Watchmen, Cat’s Cradle, Slaughter-house Five and The Foundation Series. I know it’s not ten but there it is anyway. I consider a series of books one big book. Sorry.

Any advice for aspiring novelists out there? Yeah, when beginning, don’t sell your book. Sell yourself. The single reason people keep buying books from the same author over and over again is because they think they have a connection with the author, somehow. Don’t try to distance yourself. Step in and rock the spot. Here, I’ll tell you what. If anyone is in Long Beach look for The U.L. Harper Book Parade. It’s a bunch of artists performing to more or less bring exposure to The Flesh Statue. That’s where you’ll meet me. I actually do that in lieu of book signings. It’s a lot more fun.

Thank you so much for taking time to be a part of this interview, I wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors!

Thanks for having me.

You can find more details on Brandie Knight’s Hollywood Under the Covers on her website. Also, be sure to check out the book trailor here.

  1. Great site, nice interview. Wishing this author much luck as a novelist.

  2. I loved doing this interview!

  3. Thanks U.L. for the interview, thanks Rebecca for working with me! 🙂

  4. Thank you for hosting my virtual tour and the interview! I enjoyed your creative questions and had fun with the answers. You’re a great writer Monique! Your introductions (on both sites) to my interview rock! Keep in touch.

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