Authors: Alexandra Potter
About the author
Alexandra Potter is an award-winning author who previously worked as a features writer and sub-editor for women’s glossies in both the UK and Australia. In 2007 she won the prize for Best New Fiction at the Jane Austen Regency World Awards for her bestselling novel,
Me and Mr Darcy
. Her novels have been translated into seventeen languages and her latest novel,
You’re The One That I Don’t Want
, is being adapted into a film. She now lives between London and Los Angeles and writes full-time.
Also by Alexandra Potter
You’re the One That I Don’t Want
Who’s That Girl?
Me And Mr Darcy
Be Careful What You Wish For
Do You Come Here Often?
What’s New, Pussycat?
Going La La
First published in Great Britain in 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton
An Hachette UK company
Copyright © Alexandra Potter 2012
The right of Alexandra Potter to be identified as the Author
of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be
otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that
in which it is published and without a similar condition
being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance
to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library
ISBN 978 1 848 94598 2
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
For Kelly, my beloved big sister,
who’s been going la la for the last 25 years . . .
Thanks to Isobel Akenhead and everyone at Hodder for breathing new life into this book and giving it a fabulous new cover! Big thank you as always to my wonderful agent, Stephanie Cabot.
I also want to say a big thank you to my sister, Kelly, my amazing mum and dad, and all my brilliant friends on both sides of the Atlantic. Fact followed fiction, and a few years after writing this book I moved to Los Angeles and started going la la myself. Thanks to everyone for all the great times, let’s hope there are many more.
Letter from the Author
I’m really excited at this new publication of
Going La La
. I wrote this book over ten years ago, and at the time I had no idea it would be a premonition of how my life would turn out. That a few years later I would follow in Frankie’s footsteps and find myself with a broken heart and a suitcase, jumping on a plane to Los Angeles . . .
But let’s rewind for a moment. Back to the early 90s where I first got my inspiration for this story. Aged twenty-one, I’d just left university, and not knowing what I wanted to do with my life I decided to visit my sister who lives in LA.
From the moment the plane touched down at LAX airport my life completely changed. I went from attending university lectures to star-studded parties in the Hollywood Hills where I met a whole crazy cast of characters that would later fuel my imagination. And then there was the weather! They don’t call it ‘sunny California’ for nothing. Out went the grey skies and woolly jumpers, in came the bikinis and palm trees. During the week I worked various jobs and at weekends my sister and I would drive down to the beach in her 1966 Mustang and rollerblade on the path that runs alongside the ocean. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had and I still have scrapbooks filled with memories.
But after a few months my desire to be a writer brought me back to the UK, and eventually London, where I went on to work for various women’s glossy magazines before finally plucking up courage to write my first novel,
What’s New Pussycat?
. A book deal followed, and
Going La La
was my second novel. ‘Write about what you know’ is a piece of advice often given to writers, and so I drew on my experiences of the wonderful time spent in LA, the people I met, the adventures I had, never imagining at the time I was writing that fact was going to follow fiction . . .
And yet there I was, a few years after its publication, jetting off once more again to La La Land. Only this time it didn’t turn out to be just a visit. Like Frankie I ended up falling in love and before I knew it I was swapping my life in London for life on Venice Beach.
There’s so much written about LA in magazines and newspapers, yet there’s so much more to this city of angels than mere celebrities. Yes, it’s fun to spot A-list actors standing in line in Starbucks or the supermarket. And just for the record most of the men are tiny, and most of the women look
like their photographs. But living in LA also means waking up to a constant lavender blue sky. To 80 degree weather in January. To being able to swim in the ocean and hike in the canyons. To being encouraged to live out your dreams.
To be who you want to be.
And yes of course, it can be crazy and whacky and it’s true, there is far too much plastic surgery (please! stop with the trout pouts!), but one thing’s for sure, life in LA is never boring!
I now split my life between LA and London and I think it’s these two halves that make me the writer I am today. I was born and bred in Yorkshire and my classic down-to-earth British sense of humour runs through my books like the words in a stick of Blackpool Rock. But it’s my time spent in Los Angeles, the land of make-believe, that adds that special touch of magic.
After all, like I say in
Going La La
ho says it only ever happens in the movies?
GOING LA LA
Have you ever drunk vodka at nine o’clock on a Sunday morning? Neither had Frankie, but she was about to. Bracing herself, she took a deep breath – one . . . two . . . three – and swigged back the contents of her glass, wincing as the clear liquid burned an acidic path to her empty stomach. It tasted disgusting. Wiping the bitter residue from her lips with the damp paper coaster, she beckoned the barman, who was lolling against the optics reading the celebrity exposé on the front page of the
News of the World
‘Another one please. This time can you make it a double?’
Grumbling, Terry – whose name-tag was safety-pinned upside down to the grimy pocket of his thin nylon shirt – put down his newspaper and sullenly measured out the vodka from the large bottle fixed on the wall.
Frankie watched him, feeling decidedly queasy. She wasn’t used to any sort of alcohol first thing in the morning, except of course on Christmas Day, when traditional family celebrations meant lying on the sofa with a hangover and a glass of Bristol Cream Sherry, watching telly and humming along with Julie Andrews, who was skipping yet again up and down an Austrian hillside with a guitar and seven brats dressed head to toe in a pair of old curtains warbling Doh, Ray, Me. But today wasn’t 25 December and Frankie certainly wasn’t celebrating.
On the contrary. It was the middle of October and she was propping up the bar at Heathrow’s Terminal 4, trying hard to drown her sorrows in Smirnoff. A week ago she’d been deliriously happy, looking forward to a promotion at work, a proposal of marriage and a party for her twenty-ninth birthday. Fast-forward seven days and she had no job, no boyfriend and certainly no party. Which is why a normally sensible and sober Frankie was now gloomily knocking back double vodkas and feeling sorry for herself. In less than a week she’d gone from having everything to having absolutely sod all.
‘Last call for Miss Francesca Pickles on flight BA 279 to Los Angeles.’
The clipped nasal voice reverberated over the Tannoy system, crackling out of speakers inside the duty-free shops flogging perfume and giant-size bars of Toblerone, overpriced cafés offering lousy coffee euphemistically described as cappuccinos and souvenir stalls selling dodgy tartan head-scarves and Houses of Parliament fridge magnets. Frankie wrinkled her forehead. Was she imagining things or had she just heard her name? She strained to catch the rest of the announcement but it was impossible. All she could hear was Cliff Richard on continuous play through the reproduction Wurlitzer jukebox. Shrugging her shoulders, she took a sip from her glass. She must have been mistaken. Absent-mindedly she glanced at her watch – 9.20. For a split second the time didn’t register. She glanced again. This time it did.
Oh my God
. Despite the neat vodka, her mouth suddenly went very dry.
Twenty past nine!
Where on earth had the time gone? In less than ten minutes her flight was supposed to be taking off and if she didn’t get her arse to gate 14 pretty damn quick, the only thing taking off would be her luggage –
Hastily putting down her drink on the mock-Tudor bar, she slid off her barstool, laddering her tights in the process. Shit, she cursed silently, watching the hole in her new pair of opaques weave its way down to her ankle, and realised she was actually feeling a bit tipsy. In fact, to be honest, she was more than tipsy – she was pissed. Frankie groaned. Why was it that she always seemed to miss out on the giddy, tiddly stage and go straight to the drunken staggering about stage?
Frankie tried to sober herself up by taking a few deep breaths. The vodka was meant to help blot out last week’s disastrous chain of events, it wasn’t supposed to blot out the rest of this week as well. Inhaling deeply, she fell to her knees and began scrabbling around on the garishly patterned beer-sodden carpet, gathering together her sprawling mountain of hand luggage, which had somehow taken on Everest-like proportions. What was it about hand luggage that made it multiply so alarmingly? She’d started out with one piece – as instructed at check-in – but despite all good intentions, after a couple of hours spent trawling around Terminal 4, her carefully packed compact rucksack had doubled in size and given birth to two bulging carrier bags straining dangerously under the weight of glossy magazines, a tube of Pringles, two packets of Jaffa Cakes, a Walkman, an inflatable pillow and fifty quid’s worth of duty-free perfume she’d whacked on her credit card in a desperate attempt to cheer herself up. It hadn’t. It just meant that now she could be depressed in Eternity.
Grimacing as the handles of the plastic bags cut sharply into her fingers, she stood up and began staggering towards the departure gate, struggling to keep hold of everything. But it was no good. Before she’d managed more than a few hundred yards a thinly stretched handle snapped, spilling the contents of one of the plastic bags all over the floor and sending the tube of Pringles catapulting like a missile across the departure lounge to wedge itself under one of the rows of plastic chairs. Frankie groaned in frustration. This was ridiculous. At this rate she was never going to make it to the gate in time to catch her flight.