Fiona Riley - Media Darling

For our September meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Media Darling by Fiona Riley. If you weren't able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we're reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you'll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

Reader 1

Book club time everyone!

Reader 2 4:02 PM

Before I dig through my brain for questions, I want to say I loved the book.

Reader 3 4:04 PM

Well, let’s get to the most important question: What was your inspiration for Stan?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Ha! There was an old carved wooden moose at my first summer camp. That Stan is a real stiff

Reader 5 5 days ago

Was it named Stan at summer camp?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

No! I actually don't know if it was ever named, I'm sure probably. And it might have also been a few animals...I feel like there was also a life-sized carved eagle.

Reader 4 4:04 PM

Do you have a background in film?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

I do not. But my very good friend is involved with video development and works on film editing, so that helped with some of my research

Reader 5 4:05 PM

I kept waiting for their relationship to be leaked to Hayley's boss.

Have you thought about writing films? Or are you happy with novels?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

I would love the chance to screen write someday.

Reader 4 4:07 PM

Did you always intend for there to be two baddies or did the book take you that way as you write it?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Depends on which two baddies you are talking about....

If you meant Rachel and Drake, then yes. There was always two evils to this mix

Reader 4 5 days ago

Rachel obviously and aw you’re gonna make me feel an idiot now but the newspaper pap that was behind all the stalking

Drake, that’s him.

Sorry, I read and loved the book but I have bad memory problems. I’m so sorry

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

No worries. Some people have opinions about the sister as well.

Reader 4 5 days ago

I didn’t get that vibe from the book. Not really but I can now see she could have been portrayed as selfish

Reader 5 5 days ago

Since this relates to my question, I've done quite a bit of research into adoption. The sister was doing what was necessary to protect her kid. I didn't see her as selfish at all. They handled the situation well from my perspective.

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Thanks. I agree

Reader 6 4:09 PM

Where did your story idea come from?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Social media and it's distortion of reality. I watched as celebrities left their "lanes" and ventured into politics and criticisms, and I wondered more about what happened off the Instagram page, etc. There had to be someone at the center of the celebrity persona, right? I wanted to know more about her. And in my mind, she was Emerson.

Reader 6 5 days ago

I enjoyed the story, very interesting and engaging!

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Also, I had promised a fellow author I would beat her to a secret baby story and this was it

Reader 1 4:12 PM

What was the hardest part of this book for you to write (or to research)?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

The film industry stuff. Learning about the voice-overs and film productions schedules and timing. That was a lot of moving pieces to reign in.

Reader 5 4:12 PM

Yeah, let's talk about the adoption storyline.

Was that difficult to write/research?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Not difficult to research or write specifically. More I had trouble making sure I could emotionally charge the characters to grapple with the storyline. A child is not a tool or an accessory, and that needs to be highlighted. Emerson truly did what she thought was best for her daughter, and in the end, that decision was the right one.

Reader 5 5 days ago


Reader 1 5 days ago

Same - that’s a situation that can easily become ugly or in fiction, drama for drama’s sake, but everybody was mature and did what was best for the kid. It was heartwrenching and well-done

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Thank you. I don't think anyone wants to be in the position to make those kinds of decisions, but Emerson was fortunate enough to have a stable and loving sister who could help her figure out an impossible impasse

Reader 5 5 days ago

And a lot of families make those choices.

Reader 6 4:15 PM

How do you decide on your character names?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Emerson is a fav of mine and as it relates to the story, it meshed well with her family's backstory and the development of her secret literary persona. And Hayley i just think is cute

Reader 4 4:15 PM

Do you plot your books or are you a panster?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

I'm a full-fledged plotter. I map out the entire book before I start writing.

Reader 1 5 days ago

Follow-up in that case, are you a paper, index cards, highlighters kind of plotter, or do you do it digitally?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Everything I do is digital. My handwriting is atrocious. I sometimes take side notes on paper, but rarely

Reader 3 4:16 PM

I’m also interested in Emerson’s fear on take-off… is that an anxiety of yours or somebody you know? I liked how well Hayley put Emerson’s focus elsewhere in those moments, without Emerson realizing until later what she had done!

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

That's the sign of a soulmate, in my opinion. Someone who can distract you from your greatest fear by just being themselves.

I personally don't suffer from a fear of flying, but I have MANY friends that do.

Reader 3 5 days ago

I agree! My wife is the only reason I’m able to face as much as I do and I would be lost without her!

Reader 5 4:20 PM

So if you were to write a movie, would you want to adapt one of your novels or write something completely new?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

I'd probably try to adapt one of my existing works

I think the Perfect Match Series would make a great television series since it follows so many characters who are interconnected.

In regards to a movie, I think my newest, Bet Against Me, would make a fun one.

Reader 1 5 days ago

Do you have celebrities or other types of look-alikes in mind when you’re figuring out your characters?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Sometimes, but not always. Emerson's doppelganger is Angelina Jolie, which was mentioned in the story.

Reader 5 4:24 PM

Do you tend to come up with story ideas on your own, or do you brainstorm with people?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

I usually come up with them on my own, but will often bounce them of others to develop them further.

Reader 2 4:25 PM

What was the part you enjoyed writing the most?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

The interview scene on the balcony. And the food scene at the hotel. Those are tied.

Reader 6 4:25 PM

What inspires you when you write?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Seeing HEA in the queer community. Being able to see my life on the page. Representation matters to me- I want more queer love stories with happy endings, I needed those when I was younger.

Reader 3 4:26 PM

I loved the place in Maine… two questions which you might answer together or separately, depending on how connected the answers are…

Did you have a specific place in mind that inspired the place in Maine? and

2. Is there a sort of haven-place like that for you? And what is it like?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

No specific place, no. But I will say that this book club is timely...I just revisited that Maine cabin (sort of) in my next book Bet the Farm. You'll even see Emerson and Hayley again.

2. I love the beach. I retreat to it often- it's my happy place.

(I'll be writing a beach based romance next).

Reader 1 4:29 PM

Who are some of your favorite authors, lesfic or otherwise?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Glennon Doyle, Mary Higgins Clarke, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, Chris Colfer, Agatha Christie

Reader 5 5 days ago

quite varied

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

I'm a unicorn. It's part of my charm

Reader 1 5 days ago

Mystery fan for sure though. Do you have any plans to write one of your own?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

I read only mystery and thrillers for most of my young adult life. No plans to adopt the genre myself, but it's my favorite place to retreat to.

But I read a lot of lesfic now, I like the escapism.

Reader 2 5 days ago

Do you read much fantasy or sci-fi lesfic?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

I don't but I do love Barbara Wright and I'm certainly open to more

Reader 6 4:32 PM

When is your favorite time of day to write?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Whenever my kids are asleep

Reader 5 5 days ago

How old are your kids?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

3.5 and 1.5

Reader 1 4:35 PM

Do you have a favorite couple from all your books?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Samantha and Lucinda will probably always be my favs (don't tell the others!), but I love Emerson and Hayley and I'm very partial to Trina and Kendall in my newest book, Bet Against Me.

Reader 2 4:38 PM

If all your characters were suddenly recruited to become vampire slayers, which couple would be the best at it and which the worst?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Samantha and Lucinda from Miss Match, for sure. Though Trina and Kendall from Bet Against Me are viciously competitive.

Also, this is an awesome question. Thank you!

Reader 3 4:38 PM

I don’t really have a question about this, but one of my favorite things about Emerson was the children’s books and I almost died of cute squee when the girl approached her on the plane!

Reader 5 4:39 PM

Yes! That was truly the best reveal

Fiona Riley 4:42 PM

Do you all meet every Sunday? And how do you decide on the book/author?

Reader 2 4:42 PM

One Sunday a month usually.

Reader 5 4:42 PM

we vote on author first, then what book

Reader 1 4:44 PM

Can you tell us a little about what you’re working on right now, Fiona?

Fiona Riley 5 days ago

Sure! I just finished the second book in my High Stakes Romance series- Bet the Farm. It will be out in the Spring 2021. My most recent release, Bet Against Me, came out Sept 2020 and I'm about to dive into the third and final book of the series- Beginner's Bet. due fall 2021

Bet the Farm takes place in Maine at Boudreaux's dairy farm... sound familiar?????

You get to meet the entire Boudreaux family and learn all about that whipped cream that Hayley loves so much.

The book features luxury realty and dairy farm living. It's quite the combination

Reader 5 4:52 PM

Thanks for sharing your stories with us.

Fiona Riley 4:52 PM

Thank you for having me!

Check out Bet the Farm if you want to see Hayley and Emerson again :)