Woodland Hills author Irene Zutell inspired by celebrity headlines in her new book

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When author Irene Zutell moved from the bustle, hustle and color of New York City to the quiet suburbs of the San Fernando Valley, needless to say,  it took some getting used to.

“I find the Valley strange,” admits the author, “there are things I’m not used to. Like  the first thing I noticed when I moved out here was you never really see people outside — which is bizarre. People in New York are always outside in front of their yards.”

Irene Zutell

Irene Zutell

Zutell, who grew up in New York, moved to the Valley practically the day after she got married. In her 13 years of living in Woodland Hills, she has made some great friends but still comes across some strange and surreal behaviors. Some of these tidbits have made an appearance into her most recent novel, Pieces of Happily Ever After.

A journalist turned novelist, Zutell found the inspiration and subject matter for her recent book when a neighbor at the time was suddenly all over the media news outlets.

“Do you remember that whole thing with Danny and Vera Moder some time ago? Well, Vera’s  husband, Danny Moder, left her  for Julia Roberts. It was a whole scandal. What I found fascinating was how many people felt that the wife shouldn’t have let her husband work with Julia Roberts. It’s work! Why wouldn’t she? They were married and she wouldn’t have to worry,” states Zutell.

The story in the novel runs along the same lines.

“I thought it was fascinating that this woman was thrust into the spotlight. And now has to start over again.”

In fact,  the novel begins with Alice as she tries to barricade herself inside her house with her 5-year-old daughter; trying to maintain a certain sense of privacy while the paparazzi is just outside the door.

We find her already come undone as she recounts the story of how her husband had left her for a high profile celebrity. It seems that everything is crumbling around our heroine all at the same time. The sky has truly fallen.

We follow Alice as she struggles to keep some composure for her daughter who is obsessed with all sorts of fairy tales  — a quirk included from the author’s own life. And for some reason, Alice holds on to the notion that her marriage and her husband have just taken a break. That her husband, Alex, will come back and everything will be perfect just like it was: a new Happily Ever After for All —but that’s not the case.


Pieces of Happily Ever After is essentially a story about overcoming betrayal. What is supposed to be a private process is now splashed all over the media outlets.

Everything has a warped perception when celebrity and pedestrian/real people cross paths.  Everything is also seen by the public at large. What people don’t get to see is the struggle the other half endures after the media moves on to the next new big story. This is the side of the story Zutell tells in her new novel.

Here we have an ex-wife and a mother trying to keep things together no matter how frayed the strands have become. Trying to accept her new life and bring in positive reinforcements.  One of which is an ex-porn star, who has become a notch in our main characters support system.

Zutell also incorporates some of her surreal Valley experience into the story as well.

“For instance, we had a house right above ours, that were making porn movies in. So that became a part of the book. My daughter who was just obsessed with fairy tales at the time would be outside playing and she’d hear these noises, and she was convinced that is was a princess trapped in a castle. So I incorporated that and a lot of other things in the book, ” shares Zutell.

With her light prose to soften the heavy moods of the novel, Zutell’s story moves quickly and fluidly so the reader can get to good parts sooner.

Pieces of Happily Ever After is Irene Zutell’s third novel.  She is also the author of They’re Not Your Friends and Tales from the Delivery Room — I’ll Never Have Sex With You Again. www.irenezutell.com

Atina Hartunian’s articles have appeared in the North Valley Community News, The Armenian Reporter, The Pasadena Weekly, as well as current urban development for Fourstory.org. She is also a website content manager and freelance writer: www.atinahartunian.blogspot.com.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.