The Inspiration behind The Ugly Truth by L.C. North

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Ugly Truth

By L.C. North

Where do novel ideas come from? It’s not always easy to pinpoint. Sometimes it’s a mesh of insignificant moments – a bump of a shoulder from a stranger in a supermarket; the sound of a car engine straining as it drives away. Little seedlings that grow in the gaps between the conscious and unconscious parts of our minds, hitting one day in a spark of unexplainable light. And so it isn’t always easy for authors to explain.

But this was not the case for The Ugly Truth. It wasn’t a slow growing seedling or a lightbulb flash. It was several big moments of recognition, of wanting. Let me explain.

In early 2021 I watched a BBC Panorama documentary on The Dubai Princess – a look into Princess Latifa who had released secret videos that claimed she was being held prisoner by her father, the Prime Minister of the UAE. What was fascinating and horrifying about this documentary was how little anyone could do when her father – arguably one of the most powerful men in the world – was telling everyone that his daughter, struggling with mental health problems, was actually lying.

It seemed inconceivable to me that two such different versions of reality could exist, and how a powerful man’s voice was always louder than that of a woman’s. Around the same time in 2021, there was a growing anger rumbling on social media that formed the #FreeBritney movement.  

The conservatorship of Britney Spears ran for thirteen years and appeared to be another case of two different realities – a father claiming to want to protect his daughter versus a grown woman – one of the most recognised celebrities on the planet – who couldn’t drive a car or have a child she longed for.

Profile photo of author of The Ugly Truth, L.C. North, wearing a black & White stripy t-shirt
L.C. North (Photo credit Ross Dean Photography)

And so when it came to planning what book I was going to write, I thought about what I wanted to read. I thought about power and fathers and daughters. And then I thought about what role the tabloids and paparazzi played in pushing Britney Spears into needing that conservatorship in the first place. This quickly led down a dark and vicious rabbit hole of how the media treats celebrity women. And I wanted to write about it.

The Ugly Truth is not a retelling of Britney Spears or Princess Latifa, but there are recognisable parallels to them and many other celebrities we’ve watched and read about in the last two decades. In the main character Melanie Lange, I create a fifteen year old thrust into the spotlight seemingly overnight. Britain’s most famous model who spent twenty years of her life being discussed, photographed, followed, poked at, heckled, and lied about.

And then one day she disappears. Leaving behind her two sons, her successful business and her entire life without a word.

In Melanie’s father, Sir Peter Lange, I create a rich and powerful hotel mogul, and a man who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted for himself and his family.

When Melanie claims four months after her disappearance that her father is keeping her prisoner, the reader is thrown into a media frenzy of #SaveMelanie and #HelpPeter.

I knew instantly that this story was completely different to anything I’d written before. It was a scary and exciting realisation, but it was also freeing. I didn’t have to think about genre or style. I was starting from scratch, and what I really wanted to do with The Ugly Truth was to create in a story something that would feel incredibly familiar to the world at our fingertips that we swipe, scroll and tap through every day.

For this reason, the entirety of The Ugly Truth is told through mixed media. Running throughout the novel is a Netflix documentary transcript with Melanie’s best friend and ex-husband, and everyone she’s ever known, telling the story of Melanie Lange’s life, while headlines and social media add a running commentary as the nation watches on. Meanwhile, Sir Peter Lange paints his own picture of Melanie’s life through interviews for a biography being written about him.

Sir Peter Lange says Melanie is a danger to herself and has been admitted to a private mental health clinic. Her ex-husband and best friend say she has been kidnapped. The media will say whichever gets them the most views. The reader must decide – whose side are they on – 
#SaveMelanie or #HelpPeter.

So where did the idea for The Ugly Truth come from? Quite simply, it came from the world we’re living in right now, and a society that encourages the national media to put celebrities on pedestals before doing all they can to discredit them, ridicule and sometimes destroy.  

(c) L.C. North

About The Ugly Truth by L.C. North

Ugly Truth

Melanie Lange has disappeared.

Her father, Sir Peter Lange, says she is a danger to herself and has been admitted to a private mental health clinic.

Her ex-husband, Finn, and best friend, Nell, say she has been kidnapped.

The media will say whichever gets them the most views.

But whose side are you on?

#SaveMelanie

#HelpPeter

Told via interviews, transcripts and diary entries, The Ugly Truth is a shocking and addictive thriller about fame, power and the truth behind the headlines.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

L.C. North studied psychology at university before pursuing a career in Public Relations. Her first book club thriller – The Ugly Truth – combines her love of psychology and her fascination with the celebrities in the public eye. L.C. North is currently working on her second novel, and when she’s not writing, she co-hosts the crime thriller podcast, In Suspense. L.C. North lives on the Suffolk borders with her family. L.C. North is the pen name of Lauren North. Readers can follow her on Twitter @Lauren_C_North and Facebook @LaurenNorthAuthor.

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