Gay author Rupert Smith got his journalistic start interviewing celebrities and writing about show business. Unsatisfied – and somewhat disgusted – with the glitz, glamor and lies, Smith retreated from the celluloid circuit.
He may have given up chopping up bigwigs, but the author didn’t leave it all behind. In his novel, I Must Confess, Smith offers a hilarious send-up of celebrity memoirs, homosexuality in Hollywood and inflated egos.
Though publishing in Britain back in 1998, I Must Confess has just made its US debut. We dispatched Paul Florez to pick Smith’s brain.
Read what Smith had to say about celebrity culture, coming out, Jodie Foster and why the main character’s voice came so easily…
PF: Tell us about your novel. What should readers expect?
RS: It is the imagined autobiography of a fictional star of stage and screen. If youâ€™ve ever read a genuine showbiz autobiography by any star, you will find this book funny. Because all showbiz autobiographies are by their very nature funny. The person is always trying to put themselves in a good light and thatâ€™s always inherently funny because itâ€™s inherently dishonest.
PF: Is Marc a reliable narrator then?
RS: This is someone trying to lay claim to the fabulous career he may or may not have had. You have to make your mind up if any of this is actually true or whether itâ€™s all a delusions of a very sick man. Did this really happen or did he dream the whole thing up? You should be very suspicious of his words as a narrator.
PF: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
RS: I loved writing the character. Marc’s based on a real friend of mine whose name was [also] Marc. He was a struggling actor and would be singer, model, dancerâ€“ you name it. A wonderful guy, a dear friend. You probably guessed he is no longer with us. When he died, I thought about him a lot. This was kind of a recreation of a career he could have had and in some ways the career he believed he had. I found that first person voice so easy to write because it was his voice.
PF: What do you hope readers will take away once they finish reading this?
RS: The ending is deliberately left open to interpretation and it sort of says a lot about the person reading the book and what they take from that.
PF: As a celebrity journalist, this must have been an easy story for you to write.
RS: This book is a direct reaction to being a journalist for many years. Iâ€™ve written an awful lot of celebrities. I have interviewed on awful lot of actors who, I have to say, are by and large, the most self serving people you could ever meet. Not all of them, some are fabulous, but so many people, these minor TV actors who get a job in a soap and think theyâ€™re something.
PF: So this was therapeutic for you in a way then?
RS: This was a direct response to deal with those people and dealing with their god awful publicists. Just all the crap you have to swallow as a journalist. You have to eat shit and smile to this people. After awhile you do start lusting for revenge. In a sense this book is a kind of a nasty, small minded act of revenge to all the wankers I met in the entertainment industry.