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My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture Paperback – August 14, 2010
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About the Author
Danielle Turchiano is a Los Angeles-based freelance Writer/Producer. She has worked on over a dozen independent film and television projects and self-published her first novel, "Stars in their Eyes," in November 2007. She is a self-proclaimed pop culture addict who contributes to various entertainment news sites as well as owning and operating her own website, My Life, Made Possible By Pop Culture. She also enjoys the beach, cupcakes, and her dog, Madison.
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Told from the point of view of a young woman tackling topics from religion to sex with the guidance of her television role models, the book captures not only the essence of pop culture in the 1990s, but adeptly and wryly explores the perils of coming-of-age off-screen. From her earliest memories of watching "Days of Our Lives" while her mother tended to her dying grandmother to her so-called "May-December" intellectual romance with all things Stephen King, Turchiano takes the reader through the milestones of her early life.
"You're only as good as your examples," says Turchiano recalling the wisdom gleaned from watching countless "destined to be" relationships unfold on the screen, or on the pages of a well-loved novel. Don't be fooled--this is no passive acceptance of entertainment wisdom. Rather Turchiano weaves a tale of risk free trial and error that leaves the reader empathizing with her and cheering her on... and wondering what "Tan Man" is up to today.
Extremely well written, Ms. Turchiano's treatise provides a unique insight into the mind of an extremely perceptive and intelligent individual who exudes creativity and common sense. A must read by "children of all ages". A GREAT idea for a series or film, of course, written, produced and directed by Ms. Turchiano
I 'met' Danielle Turchiano via Twitter last year and quickly learned that we had lotsa' TV in common...and one particular fake TV boyfriend too. Danielle's TV Tweets led me right to her blog, Made Possible by Pop Culture where I found myself in TV heaven. Recently, Danielle released a book based on her blog...My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down. You love TV? You must read her book!
I had the chance to chat with Danielle about the book...juicy details and all!
Jenna: You are a brave girl for sharing such a personal journey. What part(s) did you find the most difficult to get on paper -from an experiential aspect?
Danielle: Well first of all, thank you! In all honesty, though, the hardest thing for me to do as a writer is not to put the stories on paper but instead to self-edit. Especially with this book-- the chapters are memories, not fictional tales, and I found that once I was recalling the situations, the hindsight commentary just flowed.
Since I self-published this book, though, I didn't work with a professional editor, so I found that the challenge became in looking at and revisiting each chapter once I completed it. And I'm not just talking about red-penning a manuscript for sentence structure, spelling, and grammar but also for content and context, as well.
In "Someone With Whom To Eat Cheese," for example, the end result is a handful of paragraphs showcasing some of what I have considered "unsuitable suitors" over the past few years. When I first starting talking about those particular guys (all of whom, by the way, are nicknamed within the book to protect their real identities), I had whole chapters dedicated to each one of them. Admittedly because I tend to over-share when I talk, I had a hard time condensing the specifics...and there were definitely moments when I second-guessed how much I was saying detail-wise, as well as critique-wise for the fact that many of the people about whom I had written are still in my life in some capacity.
At the end of the day, though, I think what readers (including those guys, if they have the balls to pick up a chick lit memoir!) will take away from it is that no matter how much I pointed to others' "flaws" as to why they couldn't live up to my relationship standards, it has been my own skewed standards that have been the real problem. And in doing that, the real person I'm critiquing is myself.
Jenna: Did any particular part(s) flood you with emotion or make you cringe at the thought of the memory?
Danielle: Writing "My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture" was literally like taking a trip down memory lane. It sounds corny, but it's true. For a long time, I didn't remember much about my childhood, for whatever reason, but certain things always stood out-- and they always had to do with pop culture. That was the jumping off point for the book, but once I started writing-- the first chapter I started working on was "Just Another Super-couple" about my first encounter with Jensen Ackles-- it was like I had opened the door and so many other stories came to mind. Unfortunately I couldn't include them all in this book, as some of them had nothing to do with the central theme of how pop culture influenced my relationships. I had a whole section dedicated to Mariah Carey's "Glitter" album, for one, and another about my early days interning in daytime television.
I cringe any time I go back through old photos of myself as an awkward adolescent, so rooting around for proof beyond bad hair, bad clothes, and my old nose as to what exactly made me...aloof definitely had its uncomfortable moments. Especially because unlike a lot of other relationship memoirs, mine doesn't end with me happily married, which seems to be the most substantial way for people to show they've truly grown up and gotten over any past issues.
I think the one story I had the hardest time telling, and maybe this goes back to your first question in some ways, was about how I made that purity pledge in middle school (in the chapter "Be Careful What You Wish For"). I didn't cringe sharing such a private moment, per se, but rather the fact that I later broke up with a guy who told me he was planning to be a virgin until he got married. Reliving the scene as I wrote about it, I was struck by how hypocritical it was. My justification for my reasoning is in the chapter, but it's something that I look back on and wonder if I could have handled better at the time.
I also wrote a whole section about learning about love and sex (and the difference between the two) from the movies and then being severely disappointed when real life didn't mimic those moments...but I didn't end up keeping that in the final manuscript because let's face it, it's just a little bit icky to learn about something so intimate that way.
Jenna: As I read I had many OMG moments where I was seriously like "I thought I was the only one that did that!" And for the most part, they were 'things' I did that I would never think to share! LOL! Reading your TV experiences reaffirmed that we crazy TV lovers are certainly not alone. What was your mission with this book? To reach the inner TV fan in all of us?
Danielle: Wait, now I want to know which specific 'things'! Because I seriously wrote a lot of moments that I said to myself 'No one is going to "get" this; they're going to think you're nuts'! And I was okay with that.
Jenna: I'll never tell...
Danielle: I know my story is very specific when it comes to the details-- the shows I gravitated towards, for example; very few people I talk to today remember California Dreams or Ghostwriter, which I just find extremely sad, but whatever. But what I hope-- and really do believe-- people will take away from it is that sense of trying to find a place in life.
We all went through adolescence, so yes, there is the nostalgia factor, too. There will be readers who start to remember where they were at a certain point in TV history when I bring up an episode or a character or a situation. But more than that, it's a coming-of-age story about figuring out who you are and what you want. We all have outlets for that; mine just happened to be pop culture.
I really do think that even people who aren't huge "TV heads" would find things they can relate to within this book (and hey, if they didn't want a lot of 90s TV, maybe the book will even teach them a little bit about it and entice them to pick up the DVDs)
Jenna: Like you mentioned, at times I felt like we were walking down memory lane with a TV by our sides. There's got to be a certain memory in the book that you just LOVE! Or..many of them...what was your favorite part/time period to write about?
Danielle: My favorite memory to write about was definitely my first encounter with Jensen Ackles...mostly because I had been worshiping at the alter of television for a long time, but he was the first real celebrity with whom I got to spend any real time.
Also, I tell a story in "I'm A Child; I'm A Mother; I'm Nothing In Between" about coming home after school and using my dolls and stuffed animals to play school-- that was something I didn't remember until I started writing about the Olsen twins in another capacity. All of a sudden I had these flashes of images of fake tests I would make up (I went through a LOT of looseleaf!) and Fisher Price easel lessons.
Jenna: You refer to a TON of TV shows and actors that helped to mold you into the well adjusted grown up you are today. If you had to pick just one show that you feel defined you the most what would it be? What show would you credit as being 'that' show and had the strongest impact on you as a young adult?
Danielle: The one show I definitely leaned on the most growing up was Days of our Lives. I started watching when I was in junior high and beginning to be faced with all the big issues, and they were doing story lines that showed me the things I wanted were actually out there. Yes, you can say they went over the top at times with how many affairs, kidnappings, attempted murders, whatever were taking place, but through it all you had people who loved each other so much they would do anything-- including kidnapping, attempting to murder, whatever-- for each other. On screen and off, their message was all about the importance of family.
Jenna: How about now?
Danielle: This will probably open the doors for so many more questions, but there are three shows on television right now that I really connect with on a personal level: Life Unexpected, My Generation and Dexter. I have written about why in many amalgamations on my blog!
Jenna: How about the one actor that when looking back, you most identify with?
Danielle: This is a tough question because until you actually meet a person, you really have no idea who they are versus what their public image wants you to believe. I think I have connected more with characters, like Liz Lemon or Lorelai Gilmore.
Jenna: OOOHHH which show do you think taught you the most about love and relationships?
Danielle: That's a tough question because in writing "My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture"-- and just in growing up and being able to look back on certain things with the hindsight that comes from distance and maturity-- the main thing I learned is that what I took away from the shows about love, relationships, or any life lesson, really, was more about what I was reading into them than what was even necessarily on the screen. I set out looking for very specific answers; I set out believing certain things and wanting to see any kind of tangible proof that they existed so I could continue to work towards achieving them.
Jenna: Speaking of relationships...(YUP we are going there!) are you still dating the guy you met at that party?
Danielle: Ha! No, I am no longer dating "The Scribe" ("She's Making Some Changes"). We still remain friends, and he recently told me he ordered a copy of the book, so I'm sure some conversation will have to be had once he reads it and figures out he is mentioned.
Jenna: You paint such a vivid portrait with your words. It was though I was watching a TV show, not reading about several...have you considered adapting My Life Made Possible into a screenplay?
Danielle: In the past I have written short stories or pilot scripts that are based on certain aspects of my experiences, but I never really toyed with the idea of turning the blog into anything other than the book. $#*! My Dad Says went from Twitter to best-selling book to sitcom, so you never know what can happen!
Jenna: Well I do need to say thank you! I thoroughly enjoyed every word!!! Nostalgia rocks. I cried, I laughed....I loved it.
Danielle: Thank YOU! I'm really glad you enjoyed reading it because I definitely enjoyed writing it!
Seriously....if you grew up loving TV like me, Danielle's book is a must read. Especially for any of the 80's and 90's TV generation. Reading Danielle's memories opened the flood gates of nostalgia- both TV wise and in general. To read the official press release, click here and you can purchase My Life Made Possible by Pop Culture here. As a professional TV watcher, I highly recommend you do.