'Hancock Park,' the debut bestseller

Isabel Kaplan is 19, got her book deal when she was a high school junior, and now is enjoying "Hancock Park" hold a spot on the L.A. Times bestseller list for two weeks. Proud papa Marty Kaplan gushes at the Huffington Post:

How a high school junior got a contract from HarperCollins to write a novel: that's a story of talent, pluck and luck. The luck part was learning that a woman she was talking to at a party was a player in the New York publishing world. The pluck was coolly pitching to her, on the spot, a novel about a privileged 16-year-old girl struggling to stay sane and grounded in the Los Angeles fast lane. The talent, and more than a little discipline, was writing a bitingly funny first chapter, plus a story outline, that turned the publishing executive's "Why don't you send me something?" into a deal....

Actually, I don't really know how the book evolved; Izzy didn't show the manuscript to anyone but her editor until it was in bound galleys. That this caused me a certain amount of nervousness is captured by another writing adage: "Write what you know."

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