Tara Botel Doherty’s short stories collection got it covered, from the coolest places on Hollywood Boulevard to Richard Avedon’s studio.
Tara Botel Doherty was just a little girl when the Sunset Boulevard, as she likes to put it, was magical. In her riveting short story collection, “Growing Up Hollywood,” she brings back to life the authentic character of Hollywood of the ’70s, the people she knew and loved, and some of the celebrities of that time.
When she was 9, Tara walked down the Boulevard, going down to the Egyptian Theater, picking a slice of pizza, accompanied by her older sister.
“My mom believed in benign neglect,” Tara smiles. “She knew we’d always come home to her.”
The sweetness of Hollywood at that time, its odd people and many stories, its beautiful characters and bits of architecture are vividly depicted in this exceptional piece of biographical fiction.
From Richard Avedon’s studio to the Universal Studios parking lot.
Some of the celebrities of the ’70s add glamour to the story. Gracie’s best friend’s mother was a model for the famous photographer Richard Avedon. Through her eyes, the readers get a glimpse of his studio, which was the original Bar Marmont.
“It was all very 70s, and everybody was together,” recalls Tara in an interview for the Legion of Leia podcast.
Tara’s father used to work in the studios. He would take his two little girls to Universal Studio back lot. They would put makeup on Tara and show her around because she was cute.
Hollywood Boulevard —the place where anything can happen.
“Growing Up Hollywood” takes the reader to all these places and beyond. Anything can happen on Hollywood’s tarnished and run-down streets, especially Hollywood Boulevard in the 1970s. Annie and Gracie live on a street above the Boulevard up in the Hollywood Hills in a California Craftsman with large picture windows. They have a mother and a father on the edge of divorce while these two young girls try to make sense of their surroundings on this unfriendly, dead-end street. The two sisters go on adventures as they grow up on the streets and among the famous landmarks. They get to meet people who make this the destination where they look for fame and fortune among the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“Growing Up Hollywood” took 20 years in the making. Tara started writing the stories of the two sisters, Annie and Gracie, while she was in a Master of Professional Writing at USC. The author had to put the project on the back burner to complete her thesis. She wrote her first book, “Bread for the Table” in twelve weeks so she could make graduation.
You Can’t Compete With Monica Lewinsky.
After over two decades of writing, Tara learned to embrace the bitter and sweet and not take anything personally anymore. The situation was utterly different upon her completion of her Professional Writing Master at USC. Back then, she was dreaming of becoming the voice of her generation.
“I had a literary agent for “Bread for the Table” and finishing my last year at USC. She came back from New York, and she was sorry the publisher she was pitching took another author’s book. They took Monica Lewinsky’s story. I thought about it and told myself things worked out the way they were supposed to be. You can’t compete with Monica Lewinsky,” Tara recalls.
Tara’s writing habits are as unconventional as her personality, although she doesn’t follow a specific ritual. She always picks the title first. She can write everywhere, even at a car dealership —where she completed five stories. The noisier the environment, the better.