I am really pleased to be one of today’s stops on the blog tour for Emma Dibdin’s latest book, Through His Eyes. Described as ‘the perfect summer read’, Through His Eyes is a dark, unsettling thriller about a young female journalist drawn into the life of a troubled Hollywood A-lister. It is my pleasure to be able to share an exclusive extract with you, before the publication of the book on August 9th.
You have to know when to say no. That’s one of the first things they tell you. But from the first day I arrived in Los Angeles, I said yes.
Jessica Harris is a struggling Hollywood reporter hungry for her big break. When her editor asks her to profile movie star Clark Conrad, Jessica is sure her luck is on the turn. Clark is an A-lister with access to everyone. If Jessica can impress him, she’s made it.
When she arrives at Clark’s mansion in the Hollywood Hills, he is just as she always imagined. Charming, handsome yet disarmingly vulnerable. But then things take a darker turn. Clark’s world is not as straightforward as it seems and Jessica’s puff piece soon becomes something much more delicate – and dangerous. As Jessica draws herself deeper into Clark’s inner circle, events begin to spiral out of her control.
Transfixing, insightful and unsettling, Through His Eyes drops you into the mind of a young woman with everything to play for – and everything to lose…
The Shortys are essentially the Oscars of streaming video content, honouring the best and brightest YouTubers and social media influencers. They are everything I hate about my job. I don’t answer, because I’m not technically sure I’m supposed to be taking freelance assignments during my time here, and though Justin won’t care you never know who else is listening.
‘Why don’t you sit in on this today?’
He’s gesturing towards the conference room, where the weekly editorial meeting is about to begin. As a temporary contractor I’m treated as two levels up from an intern, and do not usually warrant an invite.
‘Are you sure?’
‘Don’t get too excited – I may need you to cover for me if she asks for ideas.’
I nod and follow him in, already brainstorming in my head.
‘All right, what’s everybody got?’ Jackie Smart, the pixie-cropped, quietly formidable editor of Nest, asks. ‘I know I don’t need to remind anyone of this, but we’ve fallen just short of four million unique users for the past three months, and I want us to get over that threshold this month. Justin, want to start us off?’
‘So the high-res Rita Ora shots are in – I’m still not convinced anyone cares what her condo looks like but I guess we’re gonna find out. She’s agreed to share it on all her social channels, so we should get a decent spike out of that. We have talent lined up for the next three weeks of home tour videos… Oh, so we’re still looking for someone to take on whatever this Clark Conrad thing is.’
‘Clark Conrad?’ I say, trying to sound casual after almost choking on my coffee.
‘The one and only, although given the amount of restrictions on questions it’s gonna be hard to tell who the interview’s with.’
‘Why would Clark Conrad agree to an interview for Nest?’ Nest is where people go for a window into a more perfect world, be it Jackie Kennedy’s childhood home or Jennifer Lawrence’s first Santa Monica mansion. Nest allows you to tour the houses of people who will never know you exist. Nest is not publishing exclusive interviews with one of the most media-shy A-listers in Hollywood.
‘Because he’s very excited to talk all about the inspiration behind the remodelling of his Laurel Canyon home,’ Jackie replies. ‘It’s his post-divorce crisis pad – he’s gut-renovated it, added a new wing for his daughter, made the whole thing eco-powered. I get the sense he’s trying to rebrand himself as a cool single dad, divert attention away from the fact that his last movie bombed and America’s favourite marriage is over.’
The Conrad family as a unit are almost more famous than Clark himself: Clark and Carol, their two beautiful blonde daughters Sarah and Skye and their golden retriever Banjo. They were on-screen lovers first, starring together in a late-nineties romantic comedy which is now remembered solely as the movie where they got together, rather than for its delightfully off-kilter plot about a woman who chases her ex to Texas in hopes of reconciliation and winds up becoming a rodeo star. Carol was the lead in the movie, but Clark was the breakout – playing the roguish cowboy who shows our heroine true love – and that dynamic held true in their marriage. As his career flourished, hers faded, and despite tabloid speculation that Carol’s first pregnancy was an accident, she seemed more than happy to transition into the full-time role of wife and mother. ‘I’m a Southern girl at heart,’ she would say in interviews for lifestyle magazines, in between glossy shots of her relaxing at home with Clark and the girls, stirring a big pot of chilli on the stove. ‘I’ve always been a homemaker.’
The Conrads had it all; they were wholesome enough to appeal to middle America, effortlessly glamorous enough to own every red carpet they attended, and just enigmatic enough to keep their tabloid appeal alive. The loss of them out of nowhere felt like a tangible blow to pop culture; so much so that the magazine I was working for when the divorce announcement happened declared an unofficial Day of Mourning, and let people drink at their desks as they wrote up coverage.
‘His architect is also thirsty as hell,’ interjects Justin. ‘Conrad is doing this guy a favour, from what I can tell. He’s desperately trying to become a thing, have you seen his Instagram?’
‘Wait, you need someone to do the interview?’ I said this too fast, I realize, too eager to make sure I’m not misunderstanding in my brain fog. ‘I’ll do it.’
‘Don’t get too excited,’ Justin tells me. ‘We’re not going to get anything good out of him. He won’t do any video, so the tour is just going to be ten minutes of this architect nobody cares about. We’re scheduled to be at the house for four hours, we’ll shoot all the various rooms, and you’llget colour quotes from the architect for each one, super-detailed. Then you’ll get twenty minutes with him, which they’ve negotiated down from an hour.’
‘I can make it work.’
Take a look at the rest of the blogs taking place on the tour.
With thanks to Emma Dibdin and Florence Hare from Head of Zeus for organising the blog tour.
Read my review of Emma Dibdin’s previous book, The Room by the Lake here, .