Genres: Contemporary Romance
Been There, Married That
By Gigi Levangie
A hilarious new novel full of Hollywood glitz, glamour, and scandal.
When he changes the locks, she changes the rules.
Agnes Murphy Nash is the perfect Hollywood wife – she has the right friends, the right clothes, and even a side career of her own as a writer. Her husband Trevor is a bigshot producer, and from the outside it looks like they’re living a picture-perfect celebrity life, complete with tennis tournaments and lavish parties.
But the job description of a Hollywood wife doesn’t cover divorce, which is the way Agnes’ life is headed after she comes home one day to find her credit cards cancelled and the security passwords to get into her enormous LA home changed. Oh, and there’s a guy there whose job it is to tase her if she tries to enter…which she does. Needless to say, Agnes’ husband is dead set on making sure she loses big time, but Agnes isn’t the type to just lie down and take it. In a world of fremenies and hot nannies, personal psychics and “skinny” jello shots, Agnes may be losing her husband, but could that mean getting her own life back?
Been There, Married That is a drop-dead hilarious battle of wills that will make you laugh out loud, cringe, and keep turning the pages to see what crazy disaster will happen to Agnes next…and how she’ll rise from the ashes.
You wrote the screenplay for Stepmom in addition to seven novels. How does writing for the screen differ from novels?
Writing for the screen is like knitting or sewing or even cooking – you write to a pattern, you write to a recipe. There are rules that (mostly) must be followed for your movie to make sense visually and viscerally and to fit into a certain time constraint.
I always felt writing a book felt more free. You can let your imagination and keyboard run wild – you don’t have to time the scene. You can allow pauses and internal segues. You can write a novella and clock it at 120 pages or a freakin’ tome at 500.
However – and this is a big “however” – both must entertain the reader or viewer. With a movie, it’s usually the first part of the third act where I’ll check my watch – (I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I have work to do, When’s this thing going to end?) – and with a book, it’s after the first 50 pages. If you’re not grabbed by the first 50, the author hasn’t done his/her job.
And that’s a lot to ask in this day and age, when there’s so much to watch, to play, to distract us. Just ask me to read a book that’s turned dull when “The Great British Baking Show” is streaming. Ain’t gonna happen.
Q & A
You were married to producer Brian Grazer, and you paint a hilarious but wild picture of the life of a Hollywood wife in Been There, Married That. Is any of that based on your own experience?
Yes, I was married for a long time (especially by Hollywood standards). Of course, there are seeds of personal truths sprinkled in here and there. But it’s not based on my experience – my experiences would be more mundane – many, many people have been through divorce, many more have children, etc.
The writer is an observer, before being a recorder. However, everything I write in terms of Hollywood and marriage is heightened and exaggerated. There’s an amalgamation of scenes I’ve imagined with a pinch of the “truth” – things that I’ve seen or heard about. In my dreams, my autobiography would be in a separate book section – under Mysteries and Scandals. Wink.
For those who are unfamiliar with Agnes Nash (heroine of Been There, Married That), how would you introduce her?
Agnes is as normal as she can be in a world that’s abnormal, who finds herself in the maelstrom of a big, nasty divorce. She’s a writer trying to raise a pre-pubescent daughter not to be an Instagram model (and sometimes losing)- while she herself is going through peri-menopause. She’s a woman who was never supposed to be leading a life of luxury; she’s not even comfortable with it – she doesn’t like shopping, she’s not overly social (which is expected in these circles), she has tried but can’t “care” about fashion. She’s a writer but a mother, first. She’s not ruthless, but she becomes ruthless when her bond with her daughter is challenged.
For any quirks Agnes may have, she is a good mother at her core. As the mother yourself, do you find writing about motherhood different than other experiences you’ve had in real life?
I love writing about motherhood – there are many ways to “do” motherhood – but the best way is always with love, first. I’ve circled through “motherhood” in my personal life in different ways – as an auntie, first, then as a stepmom, and finally as mother to my two sons. Every child is different, and every mother is different – but consistency, always, is key. And so is a little Pinot Grigio. ; )
Writing about motherhood is such a pleasure – you can really explore what you would do differently, what you would never change. I love all my “children”, even the ones who never existed except on paper or in film.
How do you make a story set in the high net worth world of Hollywood—something pretty foreign to most readers—still resonate with such universal themes about the importance of family, belief in yourself, and the need for connection we all share?
So much is universal in raising children and having crazy siblings and going through divorce – no matter where we live or how we live, we’ve experienced some or all of these things. I have a unique approach, I think, because I’ve lived the spectrum – I grew up on the “other side of the tracks”, I’ve had my own struggles to make ends meet, and I’ve also, through my wasband (my ex-husband J), lived that private jet life. For me, personally, the key is to never forget where you came from. For example, “rich people behaving badly” is something I’ll always be interested in – because I didn’t grow up in that world. I’m just as interested in it as when I was when I was taking two buses to UCLA, staring out the window at the sorority girls in their sports cars on Sunset.
Gigi Levangie is the author of six prior novels, including The After Wife and the New York Times bestseller The Starter Wife, which was adapted as a miniseries for USA Network.
She is the original writer of the screenplay for Stepmom and has written for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and other publications. Levangie lives in Los Angeles.