What is your favorite thing about OH YEAH, AUDREY!?
I had to think about this question for a bit before settling on an answer. At first I thought, well, obviously my favorite thing is Gemma Beasley, my main character and, during the process of writing her story, my alter ego. She’s outgoing, stylish, thoughtful, energetic, kind – all qualities I admire and would like to have more of.
Then I thought well, hmm. Maybe my favorite thing about this story is Audrey Hepburn. Of course, she’s not in the book, not really, but her sense of style, of acting, of living, of being, permeates every corner and idea in the book. What kind of person remains such a huge and lasting presence even so many years after “Breakfast at Tiffanys” and her other films? Who attains and retains her status as a powerful international role model even twenty-one years after her death? Who do millions of people want to grow up to emulate? It has to be Audrey Hepburn.
But the truth is, after thoroughly excavating my brain, I know that my favorite thing about “Oh Yeah, Audrey!” is New York City, where I spent the most important fifteen years of my life and which remains, even though I don’t live there now, my center of gravity. I love it because there are thousands – millions – of Gemma Beasleys (or Tucker Shaws or insert-your-name-heres) in New York on any given day, searching the city and its landmarks, accepting its dares, falling into its traps, discovering its hidden passageways, looking for a better understanding of who they are. They know, like Gemma knew, like so many know: There’s no other city in the world that holds the secret.
Holly Golightly, Audrey Hepburn’s character in “Breakfast at Tiffanys,” delivers a line near the end of the film that, more than any other moment in the movie, sounds as if it’s coming straight from the actress, not the character: “Oh, I love New York.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K1AssnvQFY) It’s an acknowledgement that Holly’s story couldn’t have happened anywhere else. And neither could Gemma’s.
What was your inspiration for writing this book?
I often think about small moments within big moments, and how things that seem relatively unimportant at the time later reveal themselves to be crucial. For all the thought and endurance that goes into planning big events, it’s the small decisions, the ones that others don’t always see or weigh in on, that really define who we are. Gemma, the main character in “Oh Yeah, Audrey!,” spends a lot of time and energy planning what should the biggest event of her life, but it’s the small, unseen decisions she makes that change who she is. My other inspiration? Hello, Audrey Hepburn. What a muse!
How long did you work on the book?
I spent about a year and a half on this book. It’s a good thing all my drafts were electronic and not actually on paper, or the northern forests would be a lot smaller right now.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I’ve lost track of the number of books I’ve written, or at least started, that didn’t get published. But I’ve been fortunate to have five novels published before this one (“Flavor of the Week,” “Confessions of a Backup Dancer,” “The Hookup Artist,” “The Girls,” and “Anxious Hearts”). I’ve also written a couple of cookbooks – my day job is as a food writer and editor for America’s Test Kitchen.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I’m not sure I have a ritual. I decided fairly early on in my writing life that, while I love the idea of holing up in a cabin in the woods and shutting out the world to concentrate, it’s just not realistic. And so, I have to be comfortable writing in any circumstance. Distractions exist even when you think you’ve banished them (because really, they’re in your brain). As I write this now, I have the US Open tennis tournament on the television and I have three unanswered texts on my phone. And I have four characters for my (hoped-for) next book causing mischief in my head.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
They’re just words. Don’t be afraid of them.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Oh Yeah, Audrey!
by Tucker Shaw
It’s 5:00 a.m. on Fifth Avenue, and 16-year-old Gemma Beasley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her coffee in hand—just like Holly Golightly. As the cofounder of a successful Tumblr blog—Oh Yeah Audrey!—devoted to all things Audrey Hepburn, Gemma has traveled to New York in order to meet up with her fellow bloggers for the first time. She has meticulously planned out a 24-hour adventure in homage to Breakfast at Tiffany’s; however, her plans are derailed when a glamorous boy sweeps in and offers her the New York experience she’s always dreamed of. Gemma soon learns who her true friends are and that, sometimes, no matter where you go, you just end up finding yourself.Filled with hip and sparkling prose, Oh Yeah, Audrey! is as much a story of friendship as it is a love letter to New York, Audrey Hepburn, and the character she made famous: Holly Golightly.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tucker Shaw was born in Maine, went to high school in Denver, and lived in New York City for 16 years before returning to the Mile High City to review restaurants for the Denver Post in 2005. He's now an editor in the Features department, where he covers arts, entertainment, style, culture, books, food and more. OH YEAH, AUDREY! is his sixth book for young adults. Most of his time is spent thinking about lunch. The rest of his time is spent thinking about dinner.