By Isiah REYES
The Once Upon a Time bookstore in Montrose was packed with children and their parents on Jan. 12 as debut authors Stephen Webb and Toni Runkle celebrated the release of their first book together.
“Glitter Girl” introduces readers to Kat Connors, a 14-year-old blogger obsessed with the world of high fashion and style. This catches the attention of a large cosmetics corporation, which dispatches a representative to Kat’s hometown and plans on using her popularity to help launch Glitter Girl, a new line of style products for teens.
However, for Kat to be the face of the entire advertising campaign, she will have to hurt her down-to-earth best friend Jules Finch who is a member of her school’s Shakespeare Club. The decisions made by Kat could make or break a long-lasting friendship.
Co-author Webb, a former Glendale resident who now lives in Eagle Rock, said he and Runkle met while they studied at the USC film school. Though they both liked each other’s writing, they never considered collaborating until they both had children.
“I remembered a TV news report that was about a company that identified so-called ‘popular’ girls in different communities and then plied them with free products as a form of guerrilla marketing to get their products in front of their customers,” Webb said. “That strategy seemed a bit unseemly to both [Runkle] and me, and from that report came the idea for the story.”
Once committed to writing a book for young readers, the two authors started to kick around different ideas and began to talk about how different life in the age of the Internet was for kids.
The book took them about six months to write. Webb said that Runkle got the idea that if they were working together they would be less likely to get distracted and abandon projects if they had to answer to one another. So the creative process involved a lot of shuttling back and forth between Webb’s Eagle Rock home and Runkle’s Valencia home. Their daughters, who they took with them, acted as “technical advisors” for everything about middle school that was written in the book.
“The biggest challenges we faced were more logistical than creative,” Webb said. “Since we both have very busy lives, it’s hard to discipline yourself to cut out time in your day, every day, to write, but we knew that we had to do it or the book wouldn’t get done.”
The book release event at the Once Upon a Time bookstore included a reading, snacks and giveaways.
“I thought it was great,” Runkle said. “It was nice to see so many people come out and they asked some really good questions.”
There will be another “Glitter Girl” book launch party at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 23630 Valencia Blvd, Santa Clarita on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. It will include author discussion, signing and more activities.