Author Spotlight: Ken Baker

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Ken Baker is the E! News/E! Online Senior Coorespondent and Breaking New Editor, an acclaimed author, producer, public speaker, and former pro-hockey player.

Ken reports breaking news, conducts celebrity interviews, delivers investigative reports and hosts a range of news segments for E! News, E! Online, E! International, E! News specials, and the network’s live events.

Baker has published six books.  His newest work is a novel due out in April 2014 titled “How I got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love,” a story about an obese teen who is pressured by her family to go on a reality show to lose weight and, in so doing, learns the real meaning of freedom.

His debut novel, “Fangirl” (Running Press, 2012), told the story of a pop star who falls in love with a fan amid a sensational tabloid drama.  Ken is adapting “Fangirl” into a movie in collaboration with Converge Media.

Ken is currently at work on a series of Hollywood-themed thrillers set for release in 2015.

Be sure to check out my review of Baker’s newest novel, How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love.

As part of the blog tour, I had the opportunity to send Ken Baker a few questions concerning his newest novel!  Not going to lie, it was a bit intimidating considering how successful Baker is as a journalist/tv personality.

Here is the interview!

1. As a former sufferer of an eating disorder, it was both liberating and extremely hard to read about the struggles that Emery had with her weight. What inspired you to write about such a controversial topic?

I’m sorry to hear of your struggle. But you are definitely not alone. My guess is that the percentage of people who suffer from eating disorders is much higher than scientifically reported – especially amongst teenage girls and young women. There is just so much damn pressure to have the perfect “bikini body” or to look like that model in the magazine or your favorite celebrity. It really takes a toll on a person’s body, mind and spirit. It’s damaging.

The reason I chose this topic to explore in my novel is because an issue that impacts so many of us is one worth examining in a deeper way that only a novel truly can. It’s an issue that is one people’s minds, that they can relate to, and I want to write stories that connect and ring true for the audience.

2. Did you look to any non-fictional reality shows when you were constructing this story? If so, which ones and why?

The show in the book is called “Fifty Pounds to Freedom,” and it honestly is a fictional show. But, if there is any reference point to existing reality shows, it would a little bit of The Biggest Loser, mixed with some Keeping up with the Kardashians, with a dash of The Amazing Race and Survivor thrown in as well. In other words, the show is something of a melting pot of the hugely popular reality TV programs out there now. A funny story is that last year I told a friend of mine about the book I was writing. She is a reality TV executive, and when I told her about the outrageous reality challenge show I created in my novel she goes, “Oh, that would be a great show!” I love my friend to death, but I think she might conclude differently after reading about Emery’s experience on it!

3. I love Emery’s sarcastic cadence and innate wittiness. Did you always picture her as headstrong and intelligent over the lazy standard obese teenager stereotype? How did her character blossom from conception to completion? 

Thanks! In part, Emery is based on some young women I have known who have struggled with their weight. I actually interviewed several while I was outlining and researching the novel. I wanted Emery to feel real and, as a journalist, the best way I know how to do this is to interview actual human beings who are similar to the character I am writing. There was one anonymous young woman who was obese during high school, who generously opened up to me in my researching process, and I am forever grateful to her. So, yeah, that is the “secret” behind how a grown man could depict the inner workings of a teenage girl. Research!

4. Since I did struggle with eating issues, I have to ask, do you think that Emery would have continued on a healthy diet with no harmful cheats, or do you think that old habits might die hard?

When the story ends, Emery is in a transformative place in her life. She has gained valuable insights and drawn conclusions about herself and how she wants to live and treat her body moving forward. I don’t know what happens to her, but she probably is just like the rest of us – perfectly imperfect – and faces her daily battle with heart and humanity.

 5. The novel really focuses on self love and focusing on a healthy sense of self.  Can you give readers one tip to help them achieve this?

My novel is far from a self-help book, or a weight-loss manual. It is a fun story written about a serious topic. But I am not Dr. Oz or Dr. Drew. However, my favorite quote from Emery, and there are many zingers in the novel, is this one: “The difference between being ugly and beautiful has zero to do with your appearance.” And I think that is a valuable nugget of take-away wisdom.

 

Connect to Ken!

Twitter: @KenBakerNow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KenBakerNow

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Thank you so much to Ken Baker for stopping by A Midsummer Night’s Read and we hope you will go and pick up a copy of his novel!

Book Review: How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker

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Thick. Heavy. Big boned. Plump. Full figured. Chunky. Womanly. Large. Curvy. Plus-size. Hefty.” To sixteen-year-old Emery Jackson, these are all just euphemisms for the big “F” word—”fat.” Living on a Southern California beach with her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former model mother, it is impossible for Emery not to be aware of her weight.

Emery is okay with how things are. That is, until her “momager” signs her up for Fifty Pounds to Freedom, a reality show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win the million dollars that will solve her family’s financial woes. Emery is skeptical of the process, but when the pounds start to come off and the ratings skyrocket, she finds it hard to resist the adoration of her new figure and the world of fame. Emery knows that things have changed. But is it for the better?

Fact: this book is ridiculously easy to relate to.  I think that the main reason Baker’s novel is so relatable is because the main character’s voice is ridiculously sarcastic, witty, and delightfully straight forward.

On another hand, as a former sufferer of an eating disorder, this book really ended up opening a few doors that I thought were closed.  The feeling of shame about your weight, the way that mean girls could make you feel, the way society pressures you to look one way or another: these are all things that teenage girls struggle with no matter their starting weight.  This is obvious through the character of Angel as well as Emery as the story progresses.

I really appreciate Baker’s ability to make the readers feel a part of the story based on the way that Emery is almost breaking the fourth wall and talking specifically to the reader.  I also like that the story basically criticized the entire genre of reality TV, because if I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of it since a lot of it IS staged.  Just look at the way Emery and her boyfriend’s relationship was exploited in this novel, or her relationship with her mother and father.

Either way I think that this novel could be good for fans of reality TV and those who don’t like it at all, because it really pleases both aspects.  One by including it and the other by making it abundantly clear that it can really damage the way a person (character) thinks about themselves.

I was pleasantly surprised with this novel, although I don’t totally understand why the title is so long, but to each his own.

3.5 Bards!

3.5bards

 

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