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Michael Thompkins
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Shrinking Writing: More from Shelly Frome

by Michael 3/16/2009 9:00:00 AM
Turning Personal Experience into the Hollywood Crime Novel 

by Shelly Frome


            It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what prompted me to write an antic, edgy novel about L.A..  I could start with Oscar Levant’s vintage remark:  “If you keep peeling away the tinsel, you can finally get to the real tinsel.”  In my case, I found myself stripping away  the illusions I encountered wondering if there was some way to get to something that actually mattered.

As for the illusions.   Once, when visiting an executive I knew at Paramount, she became antsy about moving her pricey sports car.  It seems the vast parking lot doubled as a pond and waterway; a situation she accepted as routine under the near-drought conditions and blazing sun.  At the same time, the mother of my nephew’s best friend was busy a few miles south stalking the sidewalks of Melrose.  This too was routine, trying to waylay Jay Leno and talk him into putting her on his show as a brazen housewife.  Either that or, if worse came to worse, getting him to feature her son Howie who, well past the age of thirty, still hadn’t been alone with a woman.  Anything to connect to the entertainment industry.   My brother-in-law, the pharmacist, was not only impressed by her dogged pursuit, he was still brandishing photos of a movie star who’d seen better days, one he’d corralled a few years back while filling her prescription.  It soon became no surprise when staying at the Avalon at the corner of Olympic and Beverly Drive, everyone behind the reception desk was quick to note they were really actors or would-be screenwriters; the waiters and waitresses undiscovered talent.  It goes without saying that most of those congregating around the adjacent pool were flaunting an outlandish outfit and hawking their charms and winning smile or a script or a new wrinkle for a project.  In turn, the object of their affections was trying to convince the hawkers and flaunters that he possessed an untold pipeline to instant success.  Later on, a short walk up the street revealed a paunchy middle-aged man standing in front of Al’s outdoor news-stand yelling into his cell phone, “Listen to me, Harry!  I’m telling ya the me you think you’ve known has breached the barricade. I’m gonna be on the back lot taking a meeting.  I kid you not! All this, as they say More...


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