5 June 2014

Guest Blog Post - Shot Through the Heart by Matt Cain

‘Need a companion for your beach holiday? Look no further than this fun, glitzy tale.’ Heat

Shot through the Heart is Matt Cain’s debut novel, a Hollywood tale of romance, heartbreak and the lengths some will go to maintain that unblemished movie star image.

The Silver Screen had never shone as bright . . .
Mia Sinclair is the first lady of love, a beautiful goddess known for her romantic roles on the silver screen. But in reality life does not imitate art and love is not as easily found in the real world as it is in the movies.
Leo Henderson is the Brit living in L.A, enjoying the lifestyle and photographing the stars when they least expect it. He knows that being a paparazzi has its pitfalls, but he’s living the Hollywood dream and enjoying every minute of it.
Billy Spencer, the handsome screen idol of the moment, is sexy, tanned and hiding a secret that could easily end his career as a leading man.
When Mia meets Leo, the sparks fly. But is dating a paparazzi the biggest mistake of her life? And as Mia and Billy look to star in the biggest movie of their careers, will their smouldering on screen relationship destroy a chance of happiness before it begins?

‘A deliciously sexy romp that blows open the scandalous secrets of Hollywood.’ Daily Express

‘Insider cynicism meets a delight in glamour . . .’ 5 Books to know for 2014 - Elle

The Inspiration behind my character Mia

One of the best things about writing my first book Shot Through the Heart was creating my lead character, a Hollywood actress called Mia Sinclair.

As the novel opens, Mia’s hugely successful and has her dream career and her dream home – but it hasn’t come easily. I wasn’t interested in exploring the personality of someone who hadn’t ever experienced any kind of struggle to get to where she wanted to be in life. I don’t know about you but I always find those people totally uninteresting, whether they’re celebs I read about in magazines or real men and women I meet in life. I remember when I was younger and people told me tough experiences would be character building I always thought they were being patronizing but as I got older and went through my own share of sadness, disappointment and rejection and had to pick myself up and learn from each experience I gradually came to see that they were right and everything I’d been through has molded me into the person I am today.

So my character Mia has experienced her fair share of hard knocks; she grew up without much money in the dreary city of Cleveland, her dad walked out on the family with some trampy blonde from a trailer park when she was still very young, and her mum, who she was very close to, died just as her film career was taking off. But it’s because of everything she’s gone through that she really appreciates her success – and is prepared to do just about anything to make sure she holds onto it.

One of the things she forces herself to do is follow a strict diet and exercise regime to keep her looking good for film shoots and premieres. Unfortunately, she’s someone who hates exercise and is prone to binge-eating. All of this was inspired by my own experiences. I do loads of exercise now but I didn’t properly get into it till I was in my twenties and before then I used to absolutely hate it – I can still remember my whole body tensing in revolt whenever we had to do sports at school. And all through my life, whenever I’ve been unhappy or upset, I’ve surrendered to an overwhelming urge to binge on sweets, crisps or chocolate – sometimes to the extent that it can feel like I’m high and getting a fix of some kind of drug, only to come crashing down with what feels like a horrendous hangover afterwards. And that’s a feeling Mia knows all too well – and one I was keen to show her experiencing in the book.

Of course, as a successful film actress she has a lot to feel happy about. But behind the smiles she’s starting to feel lonely – and, after years of being single she’s desperate for a man to share her life with, someone who’ll always be on her side and
will stand proud next to her when she’s nervous about walking down the red carpet. And, although I’m obviously not a film star, I can totally appreciate her need for a soulmate or to be on a tight team of two; in the run-up to writing the book I was single for years and had a run of dating disappointments and romantic rejections that left me feeling not only lonely but just not good enough, that maybe I was doing something wrong or there was something about me that was just unlovable. As I wrote about Mia experiencing the same kind of emotions this is when I really felt the strongest connection to her – and it’s why I named her after my niece, who was only a baby when I was writing the book.

In the case of the fictional Mia, her loneliness is exacerbated by the fact that she’s starred in a string of romantic comedies that have earned her the nickname The First Lady of Love. And the fact that she’s a star means that every time she goes out on a date with a new man the paparazzi photograph them together and the next day stories appear in the press announcing that she’s fallen in love and wants to get married, which only sends her new man running to the Hollywood Hills. The experience has led her to hate the paparazzi and to blame them for her loneliness and it’s this that allowed me to imagine what would happen if one day she actually met a paparazzo and found herself attracted to him. And this is when my story really started to take off…

Alright, this element of my character and her story might be pure invention – and I can’t claim to have based any of it on my own experiences. But allowing my imagination to run free was the part of the writing process I enjoyed most. And creating a convincing female character was something I felt really strongly that I wanted to get right. I hope you’ll think that I’ve succeeded. And I hope you’ll like my Mia as much as I do!