Every fan of General Hospital has probably wished for one of the soap's sexy characters to jump out of the television screen and deliver a little real-life romance. While that might be a bit difficult to arrange, the powers that be at the ABC soap opera have pulled a few strings to bring something else from Port Charles to life: the travel book that Lucy Coe (Lynn Herring) has recently been promoting on-screen is a real book that is available for fans to buy.
Actually written by GH co-head writer Chris Van Etten, but "written" by Lucy and other surprise PC characters, the detailed and humorous project is officially titled Travel Guide to Port Charles: When to Go, Where to Live, Who to Love and Who to Never, Ever Cross in America's Most Dramatic City.
Just like the title implies, the pages include the lowdown on the history of Port Charles, including where to settle, what to eat, how to have fun, whom to befriend, and -- most importantly -- whom to avoid. Because, after all, Port Charles is a place you're just as likely to encounter a den of not-so-secret agents as you are a gold-hearted, gun-toting "coffee importer."
The release of the book -- both on-screen and off-screen -- was a complete surprise to Herring, who took time off from tending her cattle ranch in Northern California to chat with Soap Central about the travel guide. Keep reading to find out how she feels about Lucy becoming a tell-all author, what it's like working with Jon Lindstrom (Kevin Collins/Ryan Chamberlain) and Genie Francis (Laura Spencer) again, which real-life college secrets she'd rather keep hidden, and more.
Soap Central: We really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us about this travel guide to Port Charles. It's such a fun idea that the show had. What did you think when you found out about it and how they planned to present it both on- and off-screen?
Lynn Herring: Chris Van Etten is the amazing genius writer behind it, and there are so many tongue-in-cheek funny things included. I met Chris when he first came with Ron [Carlivati, former head writer] to General Hospital, and he loved our show SO much. He's been a viewer forever, and he liked Lucy so much, so we were kind of a "mutual admiration society" of people for a long, long time. And I got so excited when I found out about the book, because I knew he would have so many insights, and he's so tongue in cheek. I was thrilled, but I wasn't sure what to expect. And then when Frank [Valentini, our executive producer] let me know, he said, "It's really just fun. It's not meant to be the bible of the soap opera world. It's meant to get a chuckle, and it's meant for people to just thoroughly enjoy."
Soap Central: What were your first impressions of the book?
Herring: Frank gave me my own copy, and I thought, "Ooh, I think I'm the first to get my own copy!" And that was so cool, my own copy that Lucy wrote! I got so tickled. And my favorite [part is the opening]. When you write an opening, you say who it's dedicated to, but Lucy says, "This is NOT dedicated to any of these people." And that's my favorite, the first page, that it's not for anybody: not for Kevin O'Connor [Kevin Bernhardt], not for Victor Jerome [Jack Axelrod]. Boy, Chris nailed it there. It's SO funny! So, people that know the show are going to go, "Oh, my gosh, it starts out right on point! It's perfect." And [I also love] the quizzes. I was laughing out loud when I read them. I was laying in bed, and my husband Wayne [Northrop, ex-Rex Stanton, Port Charles; ex-Roman Brady/Alex North, Days of our Lives] said, "What is so funny?!" And I said, "Well, Chris did these quizzes that are so funny in the back," and when you get a question right, you go, "So, I'm really a Quartermaine! Oh, good!"
Soap Central: Do you feel like the book captured Lucy's true voice?
Herring: I think so. But I think it's almost more clever -- Chris is smarter than Lucy! [Laughs] He really captured it better, and his wealth of knowledge is amazing to me. The book really brings back memories, and I've already had a couple of people write to me, saying, "Oh, my gosh, I forgot about that! And I forgot about that!" So, the details that he has put in are so hilarious and so fun, and it takes you back to the days when you were really viewing intensely some of these storylines. It's a fun collector's thing. I remember when we did a puzzle a few years ago, and I still have it, and it brings back memories. It's like that, just something that takes you back to really fun times.
Soap Central: Fans are loving that she is being brought back into the spotlight in this way, and I know, as you said, Chris loves the character, but why do you think they chose Lucy for this? It could have been any number of characters, really.
Herring: Yes, you're right. I think [what worked] is the length of time, obviously, that I've been there. And Lucy was one of those kind[s] of characters that was involved with so many different people over the years, intentionally and unintentionally, even dealing with Luke (Anthony Geary) and Sonny (Maurice Benard) all those years, and then way back to the murders that took place when she first came. And she's one that doesn't have just one family group -- she's not just a Quartermaine or just a Spencer or just this. I think part of what was great is that she sort of got her little tentacles in lots of people's lives, so that helped. And she's also opinionated, as you know, so that helps, too!
Soap Central: You've been playing Lucy for a long time, but characters change and grow over time. Did you learn anything new about her through this book storyline?
Herring: You know, a little bit. It was so great: she was really unintentionally snarky at the party for the book opening, and I got so many interesting comments about that. She called the truth the truth in her comments, but they were hurtful to some of the people that were at the party. And I thought, back in the day, Lucy wouldn't have even cared. It would have been, "I'm making money. I've got to pay my mortgage and car payment. I don't care. I'm just going to write this book." And now, thank God, she has a little more sensitivity. Well, after she puts her foot in her mouth, of course! But now she has some sensitivity to go, "Felicia, I'm sorry. Oh, boy, I made Bobbie mad. Oh, no, I really offended most of the people at the party. Darn it!" [Laughs] So it's kind of fun to watch that kind of growth in her.
Soap Central: Now that you're back in action in Port Charles, which actors have you really been enjoying working with again?
Herring: Well, obviously Jon coming back with the Ryan story, and what's fun about that is that Lucy hasn't been as much involved in that, but I do think there might be more of that coming up, which will be really fun. And then having Genie back, of course, is a lot of fun. And then just watching the new kids grow. I loved the Nurses Ball, our wonderful number. Don't laugh, and he knows we call him that, but we call Josh [Swickard, Harrison Chase] the new shirtless cop because he's so handsome! He's been such a pleasure, because he's such a nice guy, and you know how you just hit it off with people sometimes? So, he's been really fun to watch grow, and I think he'll keep growing on the show, also.
Soap Central: You mentioned Ryan, and actually, there was a moment when Ryan almost took Lucy out, but then Laura unsuspectingly saved the day. Were you at all, for a moment, thinking she was really going to be a goner?
Herring: You know, you have to think that, because that's what makes good writing -- you want the story to be suspenseful. Deep down, I was thinking, "Well, ummm... I'd really like to come back, so I hope I'm not dead." [Laughs] But Jon is playing it so well, and they're trying to keep it suspenseful for the audience, so I thought that was a great move.
Soap Central: It was, but we were all very happy that Laura arrived when she did and it didn't happen!
Herring: Well, thank goodness!
Soap Central: Speaking of Laura, there was a nice scene recently where she said she thinks Lucy would win in a fight against Maura West's Ava. What did you think of that scene?
Herring: I didn't know about the scene originally, but my mother-in-law is one of the biggest fans of the show, and she said, "Oh, my gosh, I loved watching today because they talked about you winning against Ava, and it made me think: could you take Ava?!" [Laughs] So I DVR'd it, because I wanted to see. I love working with Maura so much, and we laugh at each other a lot and have fun with each other, so I actually watched it that night after my mother-in-law watched it, and I said, "That's a good line! I've got to thank Genie for thinking I could take her!" But I think I could. I have no doubt. [Laughs]
Soap Central: Is there anyone in Port Charles you think that Lucy really couldn't take on, though?
Herring: Not so much! Even Sonny punching the bag when I tried to get money from him, I thought, "Well, Sonny, I could hit harder than that! Come on now!" [Laughs]
Soap Central: Lucy truly is a spitfire, and we love to watch her. Is she as fun to play as she is to watch?
Herring: She's really fun to play. And I hope I can [do more]. I spoke with the powers that be this week, and they said there is some fun stuff coming up that they think the audience is going to really like. It's for the anniversary show and some Ryan stuff, so I'm very excited. Because that's what makes you happy, when people tell you they've really gotten a kick out of something. It's just so special.
Soap Central: If they were to develop Lucy more for the current canvas and give her juicy stuff, is that something you could realistically take on? Because you own a farm, which is a lot of work!
Herring: Yeah, actually, we are taking some of our cows to sale today, as a matter of fact, and I was chasing cows in the muck all day yesterday! [Laughs] But you know what? I would come back anytime. I love being Lucy, and the thankfulness is that it did give me a life to be able to run a ranch and to have my historical museum. I am forever grateful, so any time they want me to come, I would. I would actually come more. But it's hard because they have a lot of characters they need to service, and they obviously want to keep new people coming in to keep the show rolling another 50, 60 years. But sure, I love, love, love being there. And it would be fun to have some meatier stuff occasionally, just to see how she reacts to some of the new people in the new storylines.
Soap Central: Will you be doing any real-life book tours or anything like that for the promotion of the travel guide?
Herring: I don't think so. Although Frank was really excited because the show took several copies to the Graceland fan event, and they sold out! People were very interested in them.
Soap Central: It was sold out on Amazon for a while, too!
Herring: You're kidding?!? So, my mother-in-law can't order one? I've got to get her a copy?! Oh, dear. I've got to talk to somebody! [Laughs] But really, that's the thing: it's the nostalgia, as well as something funny. I mean, everywhere I go, fans talk to me about the history of the show. It's amazing, their memories. It makes you feel appreciated that they're paying that much attention.
Soap Central: If you could have a Port Charles guide for a real-life city, in a similar style, which city would you chose and why?
Herring: Well, I'll tell you where it shouldn't be for, and that's Baton Rouge, where I went to college. I don't want anybody to know what happened there! [Laughs] And that would include New Orleans. New Orleans was a bad place while I was in college. So, I would have to avoid there at all costs! So, I think the question is more, "What city shouldn't we write about?" [Laughs]
Soap Central: Is there anything you'd like to add before I let you get back to cattle ranching?
Herring: I want to compliment Chris and let him know how much I appreciate him writing it. Because he really did a good job, and if people dive into it, they'll get a hoot out of it. And I just want to thank all the fans. It's very, very nice, their appreciation.
Travel Guide to Port Charles: When to Go, Where to Live, Who to Love and Who to Never, Ever Cross in America's Most Dramatic City is now available online at Amazon and at retailers like Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Indiebound, Indigo, and Disney.
What do you think about our interview with Lynn Herring? What are your impressions of Lucy's Port Charles travel guide? How do you think Lucy will get involved with Ryan in the weeks to come? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.