Stories from Candyland found a coveted spot on the best-seller lists of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. You’ve seen her on “20/20,” “Good Morning America” and countless talk shows. Now author Candy Spelling shares some stories with Mom Culture.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that as a kid I wanted to be Julie McCoy from “Love Boat.” “Love Boat” was my Saturday night babysitter and I thought there couldn’t be anything more exciting than that Princess ocean liner. Now I see that I had it all wrong. After reading Stories from Candyland, I realized that it might have been better to go right to the source and be Candy Spelling, wife of “Love Boat” creator Aaron Spelling (who created 1/3 of ABC’s lineup in the 1970s.) She’s also mother to Tori and Randy.
Her life has probably been a bit different from yours (unless you, too, have partied with Rock Hudson), but that’s what accounts for such compelling reading. She exposes her vulnerabilities, as well as her family’s beyond-your-imagination experiences…like making snow in their California backyard to have a white Christmas!
I’ll leave you with the latest scoop on Candy: she just announced her role as Broadway producer for this spring’s revival of “Promises, Promises” starring Kristin Chenoweth (“Wicked,” “Pushing Daisies”) and Sean Hayes (Jack from “Will and Grace”) and, in a recent tweet, has also teased a new gig for herself on TV! Seems like there’ll be plenty of tales for a second installment of Stories from Candyland!
Life is full of stories – how do you get started when you’re writing a memoir?
I was married to one of pop culture’s greatest storytellers, Aaron Spelling, the man responsible for DYNASTY, BEVERLY HILLS 90210, THE LOVE BOAT, 7TH HEAVEN, CHARLIE’S ANGELS and so much more. When he passed away in 2006, I lost my outlet to share stories and hear his. That’s when I decided to write, and that turned into Stories from Candyland.
How do you decide which stories to include?
There were so many, and I asked a lot of my friends and family for their input. Everyone said, “Rock Hudson,” then “52 pieces of luggage,” then “your dogs,” then “cooking,” and it evolved.
You talk in your book about being a private and shy person. How do you go from private and shy to putting it all out there?
I know it’s a cliché, but it was a cathartic experience, and, like the book, I evolved. I’m still very shy, and sometimes can’t believe it when I see I’m speaking to a group or doing an interview; but I keep going because people seem interested in what I am saying. I’m actually having a great time.
Is it hard to have an editor edit your work when it’s so personal?
Oh, no, my editor at St. Martin’s was great, and this was my first book. I wanted the guidance.
What’s something that didn’t make it into the book and why did you choose to cut it?
My beauty chapter didn’t make the cut because it didn’t seem to fit. I’m saving it, just in case!
What advice do you have for aspiring memoir writers?
My advice is to just sit down and write and see what comes out. I was lucky because it was my first time and I didn’t know much about it. I don’t know what would have happened if I had an elaborate plan or outline. That all came later.
We can all relate to the portions of the book that discuss the desire to keep your kids grounded despite all that was happening around them. How did you keep the kids down to earth when they were younger?
We were actually a very normal family, even though my husband was so successful and in the spotlight. We ate at home most nights, took vacations together, tried our best not to spoil them, instilled in them the importance of helping others, and had rules. The characters in Aaron’s shows were not real people. Their lives ended in an hour or a season. We wanted our children to be completely able to handle every situation, whether or not their father made a lot of money. Life at home looked like every other family – only a little bigger, I must admit.
My favorite show was “Fantasy Island.” I liked the idea of being able to wish for fantasies, but I also liked that the shows taught that there were consequences of every action and wish.
What’s next for you?
More books are ahead, and maybe some TV, too. Now that I see what blogging is, I’m going to keep going with that. I also will never lose hope that my family will be very close again. I know that will happen. And, finally, there is my charity work.
Stories from Candyland Excerpt:
From Chapter 9, “Wizards and Showgirls Need Fifty-Two Suitcases”
In chapter 9, Candy tells the story of her family’s month-long adventure to Europe.
She describes the family’s previous vacations as simple and routine — weekends at the beach
or drives to Palm Springs or Las Vegas. Husband Aaron was not keen on flying.
In 1984, Aaron Spelling’s shows accounted for one third of ABC-TV’s prime time
schedule. That made us really, really, really, really important to the network, and
so many people went out of their way to make sure we were happy, entertained,
and felt really really really important. We were, and we did.
We used every mode of transportation except an airplane.
That meant we had to start with a private railroad car to get us from Los Angeles to New York. Some people saw the U.S.A. in their Chevrolet. We saw the country from the luxury of a private train car, the Cannonball, a vintage 1929 train from Brownsville, Texas, hitched to the back an Amtrak train. Another car was added for our fifty-two pieces of luggage. More on that later.
The chapter continues with amazing adventures on the train and picks up as they board the QEII to get to Europe. The reference to Aaron writing is from a journal that Candy gave him to capture his “unique view” of their family vacation.
After all those years of Aaron producing Love Boat, you’d think we’d know our way around a cruise ship. No. We knew our way around the set in Hollywood, but the QEII was something else.
Actually, let me correct that. Aaron wrote,
The ship is so big that I am totally lost. The only one who seems to know where everything is — you’ve got it — is Tori.
As the ship left New York, we passed the Statue of Liberty. Aaron got emotional, remembering that his last time doing so was on a troop ship during World War II.