Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a Professor of Dramatic Arts Emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor and a frequent contributor of articles on all facets of creative writing appearing in a number of periodicals, blogs and web sites in the U.S. and the U.K. His noted southern gothic crime-and-blues odyssey Twilight of the Drifter is also published by Sunbury Press. His fiction includes The Twinning Murders, Lilac Moon and Sun Dance for Andy Horn. Among his works of non-fiction are the acclaimed The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. He lives in Litchfield, Connecticut. He is doing a tour with Virtual Author Book Tours for his latest book Tinseltown Riff. Shelly is giving a print (US only) or ebook copy of Tinseltown Riff to one lucky reader – 1) just leave a comment below, with your email, and 2) for more chances to win go HERE. Welcome, Shelly.
Not Your Usual Hollywood Caper
It’s beginning to dawn on me there’s a lot more to Tinseltown Riff than meets the eye. In this era of instant sound bites and one-sentence blurbs, some quick, flip description probably won’t do. Or as Ricky Ricardo might have put it, “You got some splainin’ to do.”
In other words, I didn’t set out to simply write a crime caper.
When I first began trying to come to terms with Tinseltown, I found myself caught up in what only can be described as a Hollywood rhythm. As it happens, I was researching a book on screenwriting and noted that everyone around me was busily hawking something: trying to “take a meeting” at some major or fledgling studio; perusing the trades at the morning coffee klatch at the Farmer’s Market eager to get a jump on the next trend despite William Goldman’s decree that “nobody in Hollywood knows anything;” passing on a screenplays to unsuspecting producers who were quietly having lunch at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills. At one point it got so loopy, I discovered the mother of my nephew’s best friend stalking down Melrose trying to shop her son on The Tonight Show as the world’s youngest oldest virgin.
And so into this jazzy, hyper beat a story began to emerge. Thus, enter Ben, a screenwriter down on his luck who, doubtless, is my alter ego. Subconsciously, I’ve always wondered what would have happened if I had stuck it out, didn’t opt for a normal life as a college professor, husband and father, reached my early thirties and got so desperate I’d take a flyer on any project no matter how iffy. Along these same lines, if you spend enough time here you simply accept the fact that you’re engulfed in a factory town with billboards blocking out the skyline advertising products like “Live Hard, Die Easy.” It’s not too much of a stretch to realize you may be in danger of losing all touch with reality.
And this is where the caper comes in and a strong element of crime and danger. Enter Deke (short for Deacon), a cowboy sociopath employed by the Vegas mob. Deke arrives out of necessity to shake things up and cut through the superficial façade. As a relentless tracker, I employed Deke to raise the stakes so that the final outcome would, hopefully, be worth the candle.
In other words, into this invisible line between illusion and real life, what if the project Ben finds himself involved in also, underneath it all, is part and parcel of some nefarious underworld scheme?
And what of some semblance of normalcy? It seems the only people I could honestly relate to were the Chicano parking attendants at the hotel I was staying at. They truly cared about their families and heritage and soon became my friends. As a result, in contrast to all the make-or-break activity and criminal machinations, I made sure there was a vibrant Hispanic thread. I did so to keep myself on track in terms of what really matters in this world. Enter C.J. Rodriguez, an undercover L.A. cop and Ben’s confidant.
I should also mention that, in addition, there’s a love story brewing. Seemingly impossible at first. After all, how in the world can a down-and-out screenwriter and a girl driving a clunky Chevy pickup from the farming country outside of Salinas ever meet? Let alone become involved in any way? But Molly became indispensable as well.
In short, how far is this errand girl willing to go in order to fulfill her dreams of latching onto an over-the-hill pop singer’s latest makeover? How far is Ben willing to go? How far is anyone willing to go and what are the possible consequences?
Is there some point when these forces clash, the disparate elements realign and help us come to terms with our runaway celebrity culture?
Thank you so much for being here Shelly.
- Print Length: 264 pages
- Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc. (March 22, 2013)
- ASIN: B00BZVZJWM
Tinseltown Riff centers on Ben Prine, a thirty-something hack screenwriter who, on a Labor Day weekend, finds himself in desperate straits. Latching on to a dubious last-minute opportunity, he unwittingly embarks on a collision course with a Montana tracker connected with a Vegas mob; an odyssey which culminates in a fateful showdown on an abandoned Western movie set.
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