Carrie Fisher’s most famous role was as Star Wars‘ Rebel Leader Princess Leia, but in real life she was constantly rebelling too, although against a far more insidious and vague enemy than the Empire — boredom.
And ultimately herself. Her battles with addiction and being bipolar are well known, but elucidated here from the perspective of a young man who loved, cared, and worked for her.
And it was Byron Lane’s job — in his capacity as her personal assistant — to save her.
Lane’s new novel, A Star Is Bored, chronicles his years as both her assistant and functions as a gay coming of age novel. The book is a roman à clef based, in part, on Lane’s experience working for Fisher, who died in December 2016 at age 60. He worked for her from 2011 to 2014.
“It was my first assistant job and the best one ever,” he told The New York Post.
The novel’s protagonist is named Charles and is a fresh faced kid from Louisiana looking to make it in Hollywood, who surprises both Kathi Kannon (Fisher) and himself by rising to the occasion of an impossible job and finding his own voice — even if Fisher still lovingly refers to him by her nickname for him: Cockring.
If you’re looking for a great late summer read, you’ve found it. Bored is a novel that is full of love, life, and happiness.
Lane spoke to #GAYNRD.
Why did you choose to go the fictional route rather than a memoir? Writing a novel allows for more creative liberties, plus it’s the way Carrie often liked to write and it’s the kind of book I like to read so it was really a natural fit.
How long did you work for Carrie Fisher? For three years, from 2011 to 2014.
You capture the world of celebrity personal assistants so lucidly, but Carrie, er Kathi, seems to have been different. In what ways was she different and was your relationship in real life similar to the ending? Working for Carrie Fisher was one of the great joys of my life and I tried to capture that spirit in the book. She was fun and hilarious and generous and kind. She took me with her around the world. She helped me come out of my shell in so many ways. Most assistant jobs are not like that. I would have stayed forever if not for wanting more out of my life in Los Angeles (get a boyfriend, get a dog, plant roots) and she was about to do a lot of world travel. We left on great terms and remained friends. The characters in the book have a more complicated situation but the same foundation of respect and affection.
Did she really call you Cockring? Haha! Yes! She called me many nicknames–she loved to keep things interesting. She called me things like Cockring, Byronious, and, inexplicably, Jimmy.
You talk a lot about how taking care of her led to you learning to love yourself in such a poignant and masterful way. so many people have that problem wity a work/life balance. Can you speak to that? Just being around Carrie made me feel alive and lifted me from a bit of a depression. She was full of life and love and that can be contageous in the best way. I also saw how she handled tough times and that was equally inspiring. She genuinely cared about me–that’s rare to find in a boss–and in turn it taught me to care for myself. I’ll always be so grateful for that.
— He Said Magazine (@hesaidmag) August 12, 2020
What’s an anecdote that you can share that maybe didn’t make the book? Carrie was very, very generous–with me, with fans, with friends. She had a friend who was struggling with his teenage daughters and Carrie invited him and his daughters to her house to talk. They all sat on her bed and she acted as a sort of therapist, helping them work through their problems for a few hours. She really was a loving, caring, giving person.
What was the greatest skill that you learned while under her? She taught me to trust life–that I can be a ball of stress about something, but that things usually work out, so I learned to try to skip the stress part and trust the “things works out” part.
She died under circumstances that were your greatest fear. What was it like to receive that news? Her death was really hard for me — or everyone, really. She was the first signifigant person in my life to die. My parents are still alive and my grandparents died when I was very young. She was larger than life and still looms large in my heart. I also know I’m not alone and that the whole world loved her and I know we all miss her together. She used to say “take your broken heart and go make art,” and that’s what I tried to do with this book.
What’s your next book and when can we expect it? I’m working on it, I’m working on it! I’m in the early outlining stages of a few ideas and working to see which one sticks. I’ll keep you posted!
Blown away! #AStarIsBored is named a best book of summer by People Magazine! “Funny, dishy, and deeply affectionate… the force is with him.” OMG ❤️ thanks @people @HenryHolt @BookSparks In bookstores 7/28 or preorder now (support indie bookstores via https://t.co/1X6aLF2Dcg) pic.twitter.com/Gnw8q8XAL2
— Byron Lane (@byronlane) May 27, 2020
A Star is Bored is on sale now. Buy it here.