Author’s Alter Ego Emerges in ‘Lala Pettibone’s Act Two’

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With a character named Lala Pettibone and a packed room for the launch party at West Hollywood’s Book Soup, we anticipated that “Lala Pettibone’s Act Two” was going to be a hoot.

It did not disappoint! Even more satisfying, Lala appears to be the alter ego of the book’s author, Heidi Mastrogiovanni. We notice many similarities to her delightful protagonist: Cheerful, warm, whimsical, a tiny bit naughty, and playfully possessive of her wine.

Like Lala, Mastrogiovanni suffered heartbreak at a young age, moved to Los Angeles from New York City, and is devoted to her three rescue dogs. “Lala Pettibone’s Act Two” is her first published novel.

While the book is full of humor, the “Act Two” begins after Lala is forced to continue her life’s journey alone, after the death of her husband.

“It’s about new beginnings,” says Mastrogiovanni, who lost her own husband, Dennis, when she was 41. “But it’s intended to make people laugh.”

Lala moves cross-country with the assistance of her best friend and a windfall from subletting her New York apartment. She settles in with her pets, her laptop, her wine, surrounded by a new cast of characters.

The motivation to get up in the morning–or whenever–is her determination to finish a novel. It’s a noble goal fraught with distractions.

The book is funny, quirky, endearing and uplifting, driven by Mastrogiovanni’s real-life mantra, “it’s never too late.” These words have sustained the author, who remarried 12 years ago to her husband Tom, a musician. A lifelong reader and writer, her comedy web series “Verdene and Gleneda” earned a Hotspot on the WGA’s Hotlist.

Since the initial launch of “Lala” at Book Soup, where the book sold out, Mastrogiovanni has participated in readings in El Segundo; Boise, ID, and the American Booksellers Assn. event in Minneapolis, “a thrill” that has “far exceeded my expectations,” she says.

This Sunday, she begins her “Writing While Female Tour” at Skylight Books, teaming up with fellow Amberjack Publishing author Teri Emory (“Second Acts”). They will make another local appearance at Sandpiper Books in Torrance on Oct. 28, following one in Denver.

“John Irving is my favorite contemporary author,” says Mastrogiovanni, launching into a passionate explanation of their tour name. “I don’t recall anyone describing him as a man writer.” Somehow, the two women writers have been “branded as writers of ‘women’s fiction’ as opposed to just being fiction [writers],” she says. “That’s just a little bit of our standing on a soapbox as we do our tour.”

Mastrogiovanni has already finished a sequel, “Lala Pettibone: Standing Room Only,” due out in August 2018.

“I have definitely dreamed of this all my life,” says the exuberant writer.

For more information on the author, see

The “Writing While Female Tour” schedule to date:

Sunday, Oct. 8, 5 p.m.
1818 N. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90027

Sunday, Oct. 22, 5 p.m.
4280 Tennyson St. Denver, CO 80212

Saturday, Oct. 28, 1 p.m.
4665 Torrance Blvd Torrance, CA 90503

In 2018: Greenwich Village branch of the New York City Public Library.


Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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