The Novel Writing Inspiration feature is a weekly meme begun right here on Shylock and Shakespeare highlighting visual inspiration as writing prompts.
Feel free to post links to your own NWI memes in the comments!
Review: The Garden on Sunset by Martin Turnbull
In 1927, violet-eyed Alla Nazimova, the highest paid and most famous actress in the world, converted her Sunset Boulevard movie-star mansion into a hotel and dubbed it ‘The Garden of Allah.’ Before you could say Prohibition-Schmohibition it became a fabled residence-of-choice for hopeful and ambitious arrivals in Hollywood. The likes of Tallulah Bankhead, Robert Benchley, Dorothy Parker, Bogart & Bacall, Gary Cooper, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Errol Flynn, Harpo Marx, Orson Welles, and others walked, wobbled, wandered, and wafted through its doors and sometimes into its pool. Drunk. Or naked. Or both. And rarely alone.
Drawn to this hallowed haven is Marcus Adler whose own father has run him out of Pennsylvania. There is only one address he knows: 8152 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood–the home of the luminous Nazimova, a vision in diaphanous lavender tulle who once visited him when he was a child sick with diphtheria. “Come visit me any time,” she whispered into his ear. He takes her at her word but finds her home is now a hotel. With nowhere else to go, he checks in and thinks, Now what? There he meets Kathryn Massey who has run away from her overbearing stage mother to pursue a career as a journalist–God forbid a girl in Hollywood would actually want to use her brains–and Gwendolyn Brick, a hopeful actress from ‘The Other Hollywood’–Hollywood, Florida–who has come to try her luck in Glitter City. The girl is blessed/cursed with a pair of lips that the men in this town are going to be lining up to have a go at. She won’t be able to fight them off on her own.
They band together: three naïve hopefuls madly dog-paddling against a tidal wave of threadbare casting couches, nervous bootleggers, human billboards, round-world Zeppelins, sinking gambling boats, waiters in black face, William Randolph Hearst, the Long Beach earthquake, starlets, harlots, Harlows and Garbos.
THE GARDEN ON SUNSET is the first in Martin Turnbull’s series of historical novels set during Hollywood’s golden age.
Synopsis Courtesy of the Author’s Website.
After coming off a recent reading high after finishing “Love Me” by Rachel Shukert, (review coming soon) I found the perfect solution in “The Garden on Sunset” by Martin Turnbull, book 1 in the Garden of Allah series. This self-published novel was pretty hard to track down, but eventually my library found just one copy in a library in Illinois and sent it my way.
Needless to say, I eagerly devoured this unknown gem in a few short days. It had everything I wanted in a novel about the Golden Age of Hollywood: exotic film stars, intrigue, and excellent descriptions of locales that were familiar to me via other books and movies like Schwabb’s, the Brown Derby, and the Paramount lot. Although some of the content was surprising, it fit very naturally in this plot, and I’m left wondering why this book hasn’t found a home with a traditional publishing house.
My only criticism would be about the timeline and pacing. As a reader, I was not sure if the plot had jumped forward a day, two days, a month or six months with each chapter. A little more time could have been taken for character development and I believe a little subscript at the top of the new chapters like “Six weeks later” or “Christmas, 1934” might have helped to keep readers a bit more oriented with the timeline.
For fans of the Starstruck series by Rachel Shukert, although definitely intended for an older reader, this series surely has the ability to go further in the publishing industry with some well-placed publicity.
Book 2: The Trouble With Scarlett
About the Author:
Martin Turnbull has worked as a private tour guide showing both locals and out-of-towners the movie studios, Beverly Hills mansions, Hollywood hills vistas and where all the bodies are buried. For nine years, he has also volunteered as an historical walking tour docent with the Los Angeles Conservancy. He worked for a summer as a guide at the Warner Bros. movie studios in Burbank showing movie fans through the sound stages where Bogie and Bacall, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and James Cagney created some of Hollywood’s classic motion pictures.
From an early age, Martin was enchanted with old movies from Hollywood’s golden era–from the dawn of the talkies in the late 1920s to the dusk of the studio system in the late 1950s–and has spent many, many a happy hour watching the likes of Garland, Gable, Crawford, Garbo, Grant, Miller, Kelly, Astaire, Rogers, Turner, Welles go through their paces.
When he discovered the wonderful world of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs, his love of reading merged with his love of movies and his love of history to produce a three-headed hydra gobbling up everything in his path. Ever since then, he’s been on a mission to learn and share as much as he can about this unique time.
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Martin moved to Los Angeles in the mid-90s.
Author Website: http://martinturnbull.wordpress.com/
If you haven’t checked out Epic Reads, do so now! They have an amazing team over at Harper Collins and Epic Reads is just another reason to love this publishing company. Here is a sneak peek at all of the fantastic titles coming from them in January, featured in their #ARCParty: December 2013 Editionhttp://www.epicreads.com/
I usually post a photography feature for novel writing inspiration, and I would like to share my thoughts on how inspiration in the form of a snapshot can become a window into something spectacular.
There are countless ways to bottle inspiration. Reading a Jane Austen book, going for a walk along the Seine, watching an Italian film, or a whirlwind romance with a handsome stranger you met in Trafalgar Square. I’m asked quite often, “Where does inspiration come from?”
My answer, “I harvest it.”
That usually stumps the inquirer.
Many writers are faced with this question daily. Where does inspiration come from?
Can you buy it in a store, like bread and eggs? Is it a commodity to invest in? Or is it simply a far away muse that can only be tapped into if the diva allows it?
Inspiration for writers, both young and old, is not tangible. It is different for each person. We experience the world through a pair of eyes, and a pair of hands. Photography has provided a glorious window for a moment in time to be captured, and many authors will say a certain photo grabbed them so intensely that they wrote an entire book trying to explain it all.
Lois Lowry, who is most famous for writing “The Giver” was inspired by bunch of unwanted photos in an antique store, that she purchased them all and wrote a book surrounded the exact photos she’d found. That book became “The Silent Boy.” And although inspiration, like love, can’t be bought, but it can be found in the strangest of places.
Where would J.K. Rowling be if she hadn’t ridden on that train and found the nucleus of the Harry Potter series dropped into her lap?
Where would Stephenie Meyer be without the dream about an ordinary human girl falling in love with a vampire?
Where would most of the publishing world be without these tiny sparks of inspiration?
Photography allows me to “harvest” inspiration in the forms of little scenes, captured in time. One day, it may be the right time, the right moment, when a pretty picture could spark the beginnings of a book idea.
Harvest your inspiration like you harvest love.
Sow the seeds and search out your inspiration in the beautiful world out there, and you’ll reap inspiration in the most unlikely places.
The Novel Writing Inspiration feature is a meme begun right here on Shylock Books highlighting visual inspiration as writing prompts.
Feel free to post links to your own NWI memes in the comments!
Unsinkable: A memoir
and Dorian Hannaway
“Unsinkable is the definitive memoir by film legend and Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds.
Actress, comedienne, singer, and dancer Debbie Reynolds shares the highs and lows of her life as an actress during Hollywood’s Golden Age, anecdotes about her lifelong friendship with Elizabeth Taylor and her experiences as the foremost collector of Hollywood memorabilia, and intimate details of her marriages and family life with her children, Carrie and Todd Fisher.
A story of heartbreak, hope, and survival, “America’s Sweetheart” Debbie Reynolds picks up where she left off in her first memoir, Debbie: My Life.
Unsinkable is illustrated with previously unpublished photos from Reynolds’s personal collection.”
—Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com
This memoir was highly anticipated for me. Having read Debbie Reynolds’s earlier memoir from the 1980s, I didn’t believe she could write much more on her life—having had quite a full life already!
From her earliest days at the Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios, she was that “cute” kid with the really high voice that could do impersonations of famous actors. She had been through several divorces, multiple scandals, earned and lost millions, and worked with some of the most legendary stars of the silver screen. My first encounter with her acting work was in “Singin’ in the Rain” starring Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor.
This memoir was a bit jumbled in its presentation, beginning with what happened since her last memoir, then working from her beginnings at MGM to her most recent movie. I loved the little anecdotes that were missing since the first memoir, but all in all it seemed like a very long-winded rant on how she has been wronged by all her ex-husbands, and is a bit boastful on how “she came out on top” but everyone should still feel sorry for her because she lost all of her money. I get it. Her marriages were not the best. But using that as the only fuel you have to write another memoir doesn’t make for an excellent tome of your life.
The Raven Boys
by Maggie Stiefvater
Blue Sargent, the daughter of the town psychic in Henrietta, Virginia, has been told for as long as she can remember that if she ever kisses her true love, he will die. But she is too practical to believe in things like true love. Her policy is to stay away from the rich boys at the prestigious Aglionby Academy. The boys there — known as Raven Boys — can only mean trouble.
—Synopsis courtesy of the author’s website.
The Raven Boys, like every other Maggie Stiefvater novel, was highly anticipated by librarians, readers, and booksellers alike. I knew next to nothing about it, but requested it at my library nonetheless. I hadn’t liked her last book, The Scorpio Races, very much even though the premise was wonderful. With The Raven Boys I enjoyed it far better, as the pace wasn’t muddled and the plot lines were much clearer.
As with all of Maggie Stiefvater’s writings, again with this one I felt “something” was missing from the prose. I have yet to pin down exactly what that “something” is, but I had noticed that it was missing when I read the Shiver series, and again with the Scorpio Races. The closest that I could possibly say that “something” would be is a fullness of character, and character settings. Like there are only four or five characters in the entire world throughout each book, and no other life exists outside of this little world inside the book. Where in their world there are no grocers or bankers, or families or other friends in school, or secondary characters that might add a fuller sense of place.
The one book of hers that I noticed had a bit more fullness than the others was Linger, and mainly that had to do with Cole St. Clair’s storyline adding to the Grace and Sam storyline.
The premise of The Raven Boys was unique, and not something you usually see in today’s Young Adult Fiction market. With that being said, I cannot wait for my copy of The Dream Thieves, the second book in the Raven Cycle.
Laura DeLuca, author of “Phantom” has stopped by to bring us behind-the-scenes on her brand new short story, “Jessica.”
Jessica is a little Halloween surprise my publisher arranged for my readers. Today, I thought I’d give you a behind of scenes look at how this short story came to be. I usually prefer to write full length a novel as opposed to shorts, but this one was sort of thrust upon me. I wrote this story almost two decades ago during my freshman year of college. The story was influenced by two very interesting people–Jessica Pirnik Gittle and James T . Kirk.
Jessica & Laura-Wildwood Catholic High School-1993
This is a photo of me with Jessica. She was one of my best and closest friends in high school. We did everything together. We were in the chorus, the yearbook staff, the school newsletter (I was editor, of course), the ecology club, and just about every other club that wasn’t a sport. I don’t do sports. We met when we were freshman in high school because we were seated alphabetically. Her name was Pirnik and my maiden name was Rice. Yes, it was a small school so there wasn’t anyone in between us in our homeroom. So, this is my best friend who I laughed and cried with, who always supported me in my writing and in all my crazy schemes. Yet, she never got a part in one of my books. She doesn’t even remember this, but she used to bug me about it all the time. It wasn’t until after we graduated from high school and I was in college that I finally put her name in a story. That story, of course, was Jessica.
Fall Formal at Stockton-I was 17
So this brings me to James T. Kirk. I bet you thought I meant the one from the spaceship. Well, no offense to the captain, but that’s not the James. T. Kirk I’m talking about here. I’m referring to a professor at my old college, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. I was in his creative writing class back in 1994, and one of our projects was to write a Halloween themed story that was set on the college campus.
This is me at Lake Fred-1994
At first, I wasn’t into this project at all. I like inspiration to flow naturally. I don’t like trying to force it. I remember sitting in my dorm, chewing he edge of my pen, coming up with nothing, and the deadline was the hours away. Then, feeling a homesick moment, I started to flip through an old photo album I had brought with me. I saw that picture of Jessica and me together. It reminded me that she had asked for her name to be a story. I thought it would be even better if her name was the title of that story. From that point, the idea flowed pretty flawlessly.
Nature Trail at Stockton
Bringing the campus into the story was even less challenging. It’s truly stunning, especially in the fall, and with its circling trails and lily covered ponds, it’s the perfect setting for all kinds of spooky happenings. I changed the name of the college for the story, but the scenery remains pretty much the same. Stockton is surrounded by acres of woods and there really is a beautiful lake there named Lake Fred. There isn’t really a White Lady haunting the lake, at least not that I know of. Still, I if I were a guy, I wouldn’t want to be wondering around Lake Fred all alone on Halloween night…
So that’s the story behind the story.
If you want to grab a copy of this short paranormal thriller for yourself, it’s available exclusively on Amazon in e-book format for only $0.99.
Book Trailer Thursday is a weekly feature started by Once Upon A Twilight, and features a book trailer for a new or upcoming release! Please post links to your own BTTs in the comments!
“Struck” by Jennifer Bosworth