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Teen Queen Waves a Pen to Become a Literary Lady

April 01, 2001|STEPHANIE SHAPIRO | BALTIMORE SUN

Oops, they did it again. Mega-pop sprite Britney Spears and her mega-mama, Lynne, are following up on the success of last year's autobiography, "Britney Spears' Heart to Heart," with, like, a novel.

The novel, to be published April 10, is called "A Mother's Gift" and concerns a teenage girl who wants to be a star. Reportedly, Random House paid the duo $1 million for a two-book deal that will also include a Christmas-themed book.

The line between Britney the human and Britney the merchandise grows fuzzier by the day, as she and handlers have parlayed superstardom into a multimillion-dollar enterprise with a growing list of products.

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It wasn't just a straight shot from performer to literary light. In between, she's been made into a "You Make Me Happy" doll, a cell phone cover and a mouse pad. After that, one would think writing a novel would be a piece of cake. Yet think how hard it must be to squeeze a writing career in between rehearsing for the Super Bowl halftime show, emceeing the American Music Awards and preparing for a leading role in a feature film.

She's such a busy little multi-tasker, it's amazing that the globe-trotting Pepsi-promoter has any time to reflect on art and ideas. Perhaps Spears, who left high school her freshman year, dictated her part of "A Mother's Gift" to her mother, a former schoolteacher. Then Mom made the necessary modifications, such as plot twists and complete sentences.

Possibly, they edit each other. Britney, 19, did say on her official Web site: "Back home, folks always joke that my mama and I can complete each other's sentences." Home, in case you live under a rock, is a little town called Kentwood in Louisiana.

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The 240-page book is aimed at all ages, according to Random House. It's about a talented girl named Holly Faye Lovell who leaves her tiny Mississippi town for a posh music school. She also leaves her mama, Wanda. According to a synopsis on Amazon.com: "Although they don't have much in the way of money, there's always been plenty of love . . . and there's always been Wanda's birthmark, an ugly red scar on the side of her face that makes people who don't know her turn away."

Holly Faye must wrestle with embarrassment for her mother, and Wanda must wrestle with a festering secret. Kind of a Southern gothic for kids. Perhaps "A Mother's Gift" will spawn a bestseller list unto itself, one that specializes in midriff-list books.

The good news, according to Amazon's promotional spiel, is: "This is Britney and Lynne's first--but definitely not their last--work of fiction together."

Imagine "A Mother's Gift" as just the first in a series, sort of like the "Babysitters' Club" or even Harry Potter. One book can focus on the day Holly Faye gets her first crop top. Another can be about the time she misguidedly allowed a Backstreet Boy to pierce her bellybutton.

Don't worry though, every book will have a very happy ending, at least for Ms. $pears.

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