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Central Avenue – A Playlist for The Great Pretenders

Central Avenue – A Playlist for The Great Pretenders

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.

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The ARC of the 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...

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Women in Hollywood

Offscreen roles for women have changed over the years. In 1948 women made up some 25% of the writers in Hollywood. By 1974 that number had fallen to 14%.

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The Blacklist Era

Despite a longstanding love of film and the darkened theatre, I had never given much thought to the Hollywood blacklist until the 1999 Oscars when the Academy gave a special award to Elia Kazan, the legendary director – and cooperating witness to the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

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Television

Television is an important part of my novel, The Great Pretenders. Doing the research, I was astonished to find that the first talkie of Cyrano de Bergerac was actually made for British television in 1938.

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For Love of Paris

Though I am a life-long Francophile, I had never read Les Misérables until after I saw the musical in London in 1986. The book seemed to me a tale of injustice and identity, yes, but more than that, a love poem, a paean to the city of Paris.

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Caveat

For years I carried in my wallet a short article from the L.A. Times about a drought in 1916. The city hired a rainmaker, who brought rain, who actually unleashed a  monstrously destructive flood. The inspiration behind Caveat.

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Beggars and Choosers

Beggars and Choosers is the story of a group of poets, one who stayed true to the dream, and one who traded that dream for academic power.

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Neither Fish Nor Fowl

Thus the great pleasure of writing novellas: the tale is just as long as it needs to be, and if in that loose definition, it remains neither quite fish nor fowl, not a mini-novel, nor a overblown story, well tant pis as the French say.

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The Music Room

A concert inspired me to create, at least on paper, the noisy lives of children, two abandoned little girls, who live with music lilting through their lives.

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The Butler in the Pond

"The novelist is one on whom nothing is lost." ~Henry James By 1980 I had achieved two important life goals: Little, Brown had published my first novel, and I had a beautiful son, Bear. A toddler at the time, Bear instinctively recognized that the clack of the...

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These Latter Days

These Latter Days, a vast, brash, unruly novel, took me seven years to write. I was creatively unable to move on to another book till I had wrestled this one to the ground, and seen it into print.

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Figs Napoleon with Leaves of Time

American Cookery is a big, broad-canvas novel of the West. A novel of migration and immigration, it reflects the California that I grew up in where everyone was from somewhere else. Some people (like my father) were uprooted by World War II when he joined the navy,...

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Grit in the Oyster

This novel—like the grit lodged in an oyster that becomes a pearl over time—evolved from an anecdote told to me on a  long ago London afternoon.

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Also By Laura