Monkey Star

Monkey Star

by Brenda Scott Royce

An audio file of this program is available in mp3 format; click to listen.

I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Monkey Star by Brenda Scott Royce.

This is sort of an exciting event for me, because Brenda was the first guest I had on Fiction Nation almost exactly a year ago. Since then I’ve gotten to talk to 41 authors, editors, screenwriters, historians, librarians and teachers, and I’ve read probably over 75  books. It’s been a very good year.

Monkey Love was the book we opened Fiction Nation with, and it was a good choice — the debut novel by a woman who had a specialty in primatology, and as it turns out had a flair for comedy. We met Brenda’s heroine, the slapstick prone Holly Heckerling, who brought with her a large and loving Italian family, an entertaining cast of friends and a menagerie in her living room including a boa constrictor. Of course there was also a monkey.

Holly is back in Monkey Star, still struggling with money and love, this time relocating to Los Angeles, where she finds work as an animal wrangler on a movie set. This gives Ms. Royce the chance to talk about a subject most of us never really give any thought to — what happens to animal actors after they are no longer cute or small or docile enough to appear on screen? Thanks Brenda, I can now add the moral implications of forcing apes to act, global warming and avian flu to the list of things that keep me up at night.

Even with a real valid question on the table, Brenda maintains a light, warm tone — after all, this book is primarily about humans — and happily leaves the door open for a sequel. Maybe this time next year? That would be nice.

Brenda mentions a primate retirement community in our conversation; this is the Center For Great Apes in Wauchula Florida’s website:

I spoke with Brenda where she can usually be found, racing around her office at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Buy this book from