Irene Woodbury’s third novel, Pop-Out Girl (2017), pushes a lot of buttons. It’s a gripping look at the tumultuous life of a 23-year-old showgirl-wannabe named Jen Conover who pops out of cakes at special events in Las Vegas for a living. The novel offers riveting glimpses into the loves, lives, triumphs, and tragedies of Jen’s family and friends as well.
Irene grew up in Pittsburgh, and has lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Denver. The University of Houston 1993 graduate also called Texas home for seven years. Her writing career began In 2000. After five years as a successful travel writer, she switched to fiction. Irene’s first novel, the humorous A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis, was published in 2011. The darkly dramatic A Dead End in Vegas followed in 2014. Pop-Out Girl is another dramatic effort. With her husband, Richard, editing, Irene completed the novel in eighteen months. She hopes audiences will enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.
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When Zane Hollister returns home to Las Vegas after two years in prison and discovers his showgirl-lover is with another guy, he goes ballistic. After stalking and taunting the couple for months, his toxic jealousy takes a darker turn. To wipe out Colton, Zane masterminds a devilish zip line accident and a terrifying car crash. When those fail, he resorts to kidnapping Jen and forcing her to marry him. And it gets even worse when Zane shoots Colton’s boss, Matt, by mistake as he aims for Colton in a horrific drive-by shooting.
With Matt lingering in a coma, Jen’s cocktail-waitress mother, Brandi, absorbs a seismic shock of her own. After hearing Matt’s name on the local news, she realizes he’s her first love of decades past—and Jen’s real father.
Will Matt emerge from his coma to reunite with Brandi and Jen? Do the cops nab Zane, who’s hiding out in Hawaii? And can Jen and Colton’s love survive Zane’s lethal jealousy?
There’s a happy ending for some, but not for all, in Pop-Out Girl.
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As a book bloggin’ and book luvin’ Princess, I’m always curious to find out how authors got the ideas for their books. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
It was a gradual process. I got one piece of the puzzle while I was in Las Vegas working on my previous novel. Then, over the next year or two, I got more pieces. After I started writing the book I came up with a lot of the twists and turns. You get to know the characters as you write and it helps you figure out what they would or wouldn’t do.
Can you tell us what your book is about?
Pop-Out Girl is basically a look at what happens to this lovely, sweet 23-year-old showgirl in Las Vegas when her ex-boyfriend gets out of prison after two years and comes back to town. He finds out she’s with someone else, goes ballistic, and tries to destroy her life and her new boyfriend’s. He ultimately kidnaps her and forces her into marriage. It’s pretty intense, but also strangely fascinating.
Can you tell us a little about the main characters of your book?
Jen is the lead character. She’s a beautiful but troubled showgirl trying to cope with being stalked by a lethally jealous ex. Her mother, Brandi, is a cocktail waitress with a legacy of tragic love affairs and broken marriages. Even Jen’s grandmother, Paulina, had a lot of drama in her life. The male characters stand by stoically, trying to be supportive. Except for Jen’s obsessed stalker-ex, Zane, who’s an impulsive hothead “crazy in love” with her. Although he commits a few serious crimes in his quest to get her back, he still emerges as a likeable guy. He kind of steals the book. I love all my characters, good or bad.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?
You’ll have your good days and your bad ones, but don’t give up. Hang in there.
What would you say is one of your interesting writing quirks?
I like to wear the same clothes—I buy a few of the same outfit--eat the same foods, and work in the same room day in and day out. The more stable and steady my outer world is, the easier it is to get to other places in my mind.
Do you hear from your readers? What do they say?
My first novel was a humor book, and readers would tell me how much they laughed, which I loved. The second novel was dramatic. People would say they liked it—and give me their opinions on what the characters should, or shouldn’t, have done. It was pretty interesting. I loved the feedback.
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
My first novel was funny—a satire, really. It hurt when people would take their behavior seriously and label it selfish or materialistic or cruel. It really was a comedy. They were supposed to be over the top and outrageous.
What has been the best accomplishment?
Finishing all three novels, getting them published, and having people read and enjoy them.
Do you Google yourself?
Yes, sometimes. It’s interesting to see what’s there and what isn’t.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading my novels and for understanding and appreciating them.