Shallon's First Book
During the filming of Downtown Girls
Shallon Lester is a published author, blogger, and now reality star. After penning a popular sex column in her native California, she moved to New York where she became an editor at FHM and a gossip writer for the New York Daily News and published her first novel, Hot Mess, in 2008. Her second novel, Exes and Ohs: 18 Tales of Vice, Virtue, and a Little Facebook Stalking, will be released next spring. Shallon is also the star of Downtown Girls, an MTV reality series based on her life and misadventures as a single girl in Manhattan. Between filming and spell check, she’s a full time blogger for Glamour magazine and currently has a non-reality television show, Pretty in Punk, in development in conjunction with her writing partner, Nasim Pedrad of Saturday Night Live.
What captivates me about Shallon is her sheer determination and commitment to success. After college she packed up and moved across the country to a city that could make her career dreams come true. And now, after years of hard work and endless dedication, she is achieving her goals and setting new ones. I talked with Shallon about her journey, and how she made it work.
Q: How did you break into the entertainment industry?
A: One key is to make strategic alliances. Only keep people in your life who can help you, whether it’s a supportive friend or a well-connected cousin. Nurture those relationships in a non-pushy way; it doesn’t make you a user, it makes you smart and efficient.
When I was a gossip columnist for the New York Daily News my bosses pitched a reality show idea to a production company, who in turn interviewed me. They passed on my boss’s idea but decided to develop a series around my odd little life and misadventures in Manhattan. We shot a five minute pitch video and MTV decided to buy 6 episodes, so we filmed a season and it will air June 1 at 11pm after The Hills! It’s taken nearly three stressful years but hopefully it’s all about to pay off.
Q: How did you score your first book deal? What prepared you to write a book?
A: I wasn’t an English major in college, but oddly enough I grew the most as a writer as an Associate Editor for FHM magazine. You wouldn’t think a magazine focusing on boobs and beer would be so persnickety, but they were. As for writing Hot Mess, my book partner, Julie, and I were writers for CollegeHumor.com and had written a proposal for a non-fiction guide to post-college life for girls. Julie befriended an editor at Random House who looked at our proposal and like our “voice” and style and offered us a deal if we could turn our vision into a teen fiction novel. So we did! The key to writing a book is outlining. Outlining, outlining, OUTLINING. It sucks but if you don’t do it, your book won’t make any damn sense.
Q: Your blog videos are hilarious. Where do you find your inspiration?
A: I’ve always had the ability to think and talk like a guy, so I look around at what my friends and I are griping about and translate it in a way that dudes can understand. Plus, I get PLENTY of fodder from my own weird, calamitous dating life. How many girls do you know that have dated a guy in the mafia? Or who’s been dumped on Valentine’s Day…twice? Inspiration is the least of my worries.
Q: What advice do you have for women trying to achieve their goals?
A: It sounds corny, but truly, do not give up. Eventually, it WILL pay off. But you have to be willing to make big sacrifices. Me, I’ve watched my friends raking in $200,000+ a year in finance, while I was an impoverished (but published!) writer. But I don’t have any other choice. I can’t not write, I feel like I’m suffocating. If there’s something you feel that strongly about, grab it and don’t let go because that passion is a gift. So many people drift through life with no real goals. Abide by the phrase “Belief makes things real.” Your dominant thought must always be of success.