Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shoes, Superheroes, and Secret Ninjas by Maya Jax, Author of Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me

Today's special guest is Maya Jax, author of Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me. Now, no one is ever going to accuse me of having a chick lit fetish. I don't think I've actually read one chick lit novel, but this one caught my eye because I read somewhere that superheroes and secret ninjas played a part in this one. That, combined with the fact the the author admits at one point she wanted to become a secret agent, meant I had to have her stop by The Book Connection to hear what she had to say.

Here's more about the book:

The Scene: Aspiring screenwriter Lelaina Zane finally lands a Hollywood break, but it’s cut short when her dad has a heart attack and she has to return to her hometown. Now that she’s back, her parents want her to stay, show some responsibility and join the family law firm.

Her Ex: Her first love, first kiss, first… you know, and first guy she caught with another woman. Full of apologies and a proposition, he wants her to stay and be with him.

Her Dilemma: With one embarrassing disaster after another, a devastating blow from Hollywood and four weeks until the Bar Exam, Lainey has to decide if she’ll stay and have it all — career, love, money — or return to LA to pursue her impossible dream.

Can you tell Maya Jax started off by writing screenplays?

Shoes, Superheroes, and Secret Ninjas by Maya Jax

While I love Manolos, I also love the Batmobile, so having a main character that loves her shoes and her superhero fantasy was actually easy to do, especially with Lelaina. At the start of Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me, Lelaina has reached a point in her life where she has to decide if it's time to give up her dream of being a screenwriter and take the safe route out, or to keep struggling despite everyone else moving on around her, so Lelaina’s desperation to ‘make it’ was an opportunity to exhibit this part of her personality. When Lelaina learns her ideal agent has a Catwoman fetish, she decides dressing as Julie Newmar is her way in. The plan goes very wrong, but it's the perfect intro to show just how far she's willing to go, while keeping the story light -- and I was able to fulfill a small superhero fantasy of my own by writing a character dressed as Julie!

As for secret agents and ninjas, the first screenplay I wrote was about spies, and since I knew rejection from that so well, I made Lelaina’s screenplay a spy-ninja flick. When I pitched my screenplay to a friend in Hollywood, who used to write for a major action TV series, he told me to never show it to anyone ever again. He said talent was there (after ten minutes of hearing how much I sucked, that was sweet relief!), but his advice was that the voice didn’t ring true of the action genre. So when Lelaina wants to break into Hollywood, it’s with that same fantasy/delusion that I had: wanting to write a character like Batman or Jack Bauer when the voice in your head is so much more like Bridget Jones or Becky Bloomwood.

And these are the reasons why I love chick lit so much -- characters can embody our inner selves, while dealing with relationships, friends, family, and aspiring dreams. It’s the perfect way to play with life’s tough spots without losing the fun. If I’m destined to write chick lit, I can live with that!

Loving spy and mystery novels, Maya Jax entertained the idea of being a secret agent and started working at an embassy overseas while doing her master’s in international relations. During this time, she finished her first screenplay, an action/thriller about spies and nuclear weapons. She pitched it to a friend in Hollywood, who told her she had talent, but to never - ever - show anyone the script again. Realizing her love for writing was stronger than her desire to spy and fight crime, she attempted a second screenplay focusing on what she knew best -- trying to make it as a writer. The screenplay turned into a manuscript and the result was chick lit novel Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me. You can read more about Maya at

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