The phone kept pinging in the night, text after text, for the most part, as I glanced at them, numbers without names. I tried to sleep through them. I tried to sleep at all. I didn’t want to wake up to a world where Donald Trump would be the President of the United States.
Every family has a few cherished stories about how they came to be who they are, anecdotes of some ancestor, someone clever or determined, someone lucky, or fated or foolhardy. Certainly every Armenian family has a story about how they survived the 1915 genocide.
Robin stole from the rich, despised the greedy plutocrats, and in acts of social justice, gave to the poor, the hungry. As a child in Southern California, I knew nothing of class struggle, but I was all on the side of Robin and his Merry Men.
Writers are always advised: write from what you know. I have more often written from what I don’t know, what vexes or haunts or troubles me.
I never tire of watching High Noon. Unlike most films from the 1950’s, it seems to me clean, sleek. The tensions are perfectly paced, the music (and the classic song Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin’) lope along until they too escalate with the action. The intricate relationships of the characters play across the screen with understated grace and intensity.
If there is some glorious afterlife where one relives moments of tremendous earthly happiness, then for me, one of those would be me driving a vintage MG convertible, zipping along on a narrow road, Pacific Ocean on one side, dry California hills on the other, music blaring. I am wearing sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat.
You can see Trumbo at the Pickford–one night only–May 2nd at 6 PM. I will introduce the film and talk about its connections to my novel. Your ticket also entitles you to a glass of champagne in a nod to old Hollywood glamour. Hope to see you there.
You’ve written “The End.” Bravo. Celebrate! Buy champagne, dance in the streets! But inevitably after that glorious moment, you drag yourself to your desk, open a new folder called Version 2, or Revision, or New Draft. Whatever. You’re thinking: oh shit, here we go again.
Cyrano de Bergerac—brilliant wit, exquisite poet, undefeated cavalier—is unredeemably ugly. His nose, a giant, disfiguring schnoz, renders him unfit to play the lover to any woman, much less the lovely Roxanne. She is in love with the handsome soldier, Christian. To help his tongue-tied rival win Roxanne’s love, Cyrano speaks his own words, immortal protestations of love. beneath her balcony. She believes Christian is speaking to her from his heart, and replies rapturously. The young couple elopes. Then it all goes to hell.
Panache is one of my favorite words. To me panache evokes an individual who sparkles in company, who displays generosity of spirit and confidence they have earned.
My many books have been dedicated to a few close friends and to supportive agents, but mostly to my sons, my sister, and my mother. THE GREAT PRETENDERS has a unique dedication.
Juicy, sometimes salacious, full of glamorous details or outrageous incidents, the memoir–with its whispered invitation, “This is true!”–far more than the novel, is the literary genre ideally suited to Hollywood.
Music for movies proved integral to the writing of The Great Pretenders, from Casablanca to Moonglow. Read about the inspiration and listen to a playlist of movie music that informed the book!
Hollywood novels offer different fictional perspectives on that cocktail of hope and despair, sex and ambition that has always flourished amid the land of high stakes make-believe. The Great Pretenders follows in these classic footsteps.
Some moments in American history are embedded forever in the national imagination, our collective memory.
The 2001 film, BOYCOTT is essential viewing for Black History Month. It portrays the year long Montgomery Bus Boycott, winning many awards, including a coveted Peabody Award for “refusing to allow history to slip into the past.”
The Pickford, Bellingham’s arthouse cinema, is now celebrating its twentieth anniversary. Supported by memberships and an all volunteer staff (except for the projectionist) it is indeed a “little music box of a theatre.” The Pickford is my favorite place in town.
Pierino’s, the restaurant frequented by Roxanne Granville in The Great Pretenders, is well known to me. I invented it when characters from my novel American Cookery had lunch there in 1956. Like Roxanne, you too can enjoy Pierino’s in its heyday.
How do I love thee, O Great Virginia? Let me count the ways. I love thee for A Room of One’s Own and To the Lighthouse. These books changed my life. My multiple copies of each are stained with suntan lotion, with spilled wine, with tea, with tears.
For each book I have written, I have created soundtracks, music that I play continually early in the writing process. Sometimes this is thematic, allied to a mood or a certain chapter, sometimes evoking an era. For The Great Pretenders, I was introduced to a whole new musical world, West Coast Cool, thanks to a book that was crucial to my novel.
“Writing a book, seeing it published, why that must be the most wonderful feeling in the whole world. To hold it in your hand, a book that began just as an idea in your imagination!” So says a character in a novel of mine that is still under construction. It’s not an...