While realty TV stars are often here today, gone tomorrow, "The Hills" and "Laguna Beach" star Lauren Conrad has managed to extend her 15 minutes of fame. The 26-year-old's bestselling series of young adult novels, L.A. Candy and its spin-off trilogy The Fame Game (the first of which hits stores April 3), are loosely based on her experiences on those shows, which weren't always painless. "On the vacation to Cabo, I wore a bathing suit on the beach for the first time in years. Usually I'm just petrified," she confesses to Glamour magazine. "A couple of years ago someone zoomed in on my cellulite and it was so mean. I took it really personally. I haven't worn a bathing suit in L.A. in years because of that." As you can see from the pics that accompany the story, the rule doesn't apply to photo shoots! The co-founder of TheBeautyDepartment.com and designer behind Paper Crown lounges by a pool, frolics in the grass, and shows off some skin (even going tastefully topless in one photo!) in a swimsuit and several other summery looks.
The images are quite the opposite of the Hollywood glamour she writes about in her latest book. The Fame Game is the story of Madison Parker, who's very similar to LC's former friend and co-star Heidi Montag, and her adventures navigating the celeb scene, which was the perfect opportunity for Lauren to reveal the tricks of the reality trade. "I knew people who called the paparazzi on themselves! Their point of view is 'They're going to photograph me anyway, and this way I get paid half of what they make.' I could never bring myself to do it, but it was kind of fun to write it from that point of view," she said. But even Lauren wasn't exempt from another crafty technique. "During shooting, the producers would send us quick text messages telling us what to talk about," she notes. "They couldn't walk through the shot, so they'd just text me, like, 'Say something quick about this story line.' That's why we were always checking our phones!" Oh, so that's why they did that!
Lauren left "The Hills" for good in May 2009, but her other projects have kept her in the spotlight. In fact, she often still grabs tabloid headlines whenever she's dating someone — or just photographed with them. She and longtime boyfriend Kyle Howard, best known for the TBS show "My Boys," split in summer 2011, and she's since been reported to have been romantically linked with "Dancing With the Stars" pro Derek Hough, "Glee's" Matthew Morrison, and Stephen Dorff. "I wish I dated as much as people thought I did!" she says. "It's really funny because almost everyone that I'm reportedly 'dating' is a friend of mine. About half my friends are guys, and I've always gotten along really well with guys. You just have to laugh at it." And, of course, take notes so she can use it in future books!