Archive | March, 2012

Are vampires your guilty pleasure?

29 Mar

Mine too. But not the sparkly teen variety. I’m more a Bram Stoker fan. My contribution to vampire literature is now available on Amazon and you can be one of the first to download, read and review. If you do offer a review, (good or bad) let me know and if you’re a blog follower, I’ll send you one of my favorite books to say thank you. Sanguivorous means blood-eater, by the way. And you’ll want to know that my dear friends who’ve read it have said I gave them nightmares. Did I mention the first volume is only 99cents? Barely a bite.

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Book Review, An Object of Beauty, by Steve Martin

27 Mar

 One approaches novels written by celebrities with almost an air of condescension.  The poor dears, one sighs, trying to find fulfillment – or perhaps respect – in that most difficult of media.  They are usually minor works, like Woody Allen’s, into which he usually pours all his leftover witticisms and spare gags; or they are works of pretentious autobiography, as found in the collective oeuvre of Ethan Hawke.  Invariably the novels are lean, to say the least, more in the nature of an embellished skit than a full-blown work on its own.

That’s why I am particularly surprised and happy to say that Steve Martin has written a real novel, a true novel, one that is, at best, a signal that a major new writer has appeared on the scene – hidden in plain sight all the time!  The book is, in fact, a minor masterpiece.  (And when I say “minor”, I mean only that the subject matter – the highbrow world of the Manhattan Art and Gallery scenes – is a rarified one that only a very few of the one-percenters get to visit in our lifetimes.)  Fortunately for us, Mr. Martin is a well-known collector of modern paintings and well-versed in his subjects.  In short, this is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time.

Martin writes in the first person, but under the name of Daniel Chester French, who is an upwardly mobile art critic for ArtNews.  As Somerset Maugham does in his books, Martin/French is content to remain only a minor character, able to comment on the true center of his work, that “object of beauty” herself, the gallery-owner known as Lacey Yeager.  In Lacey, Martin has created a extremely memorable combination of Holly Golightly fused with Cleopatra.  Seductive, amoral, charming, destructively ambitious (both to herself and others in her sphere) and winsomely devious, Lacey becomes a character so believable that you know you’ve either met her once or twice before at some pretentious party, or, more likely, she was your first wife.  At the end of the book, Martin confesses (in Daniel’s voice) that he didn’t know whether or not to make the book into a non-fiction work using real names or to bury the work in fiction.  My bet is that for those in the know this is a true roman a clef.

The pacing is perfect.  The world the book inhabits is endless fascinating.  And the discourse in modern art is nothing short of wonderful.  Best, it is illustrated in color plates that show the paintings being discussed; one doesn’t have to go back and forth to Wikipedia to find out just what the hell he is talking about.

“An Object of Beauty” does everything a novel is supposed to do; it keeps you reading at a breakneck pace; it both amuses and edifies, and you end up knowing more than when you went in.  My only question for Steve Martin is this: how can so much talent (comic, actor, writer, playwright, musician, art collector) be stuffed into one individual?

It’s not fair, I tell you!  Just not fair.

Revisiting My Resolutions for Writers

26 Mar

Happy Monday! I’ve got a crazy busy schedule this week and thought I’d revisit the resolutions for writers I posted in January as a way of prodding you to take stock of where you are today with your novel or play or screenplay. I’d love to hear from you and where you are and where you want to be in your writing. Don’t forget to share this if you enjoyed it. There’s s pull-down button with all the links you’ll need to spread the word, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, PressThis. And if you’re not familiar with the tools, this is a great place to start and trust me as a writer you need to know each of them.

It’s that time of year again, when we resolve to do better, become a little wiser, divest ourselves of some of our flaws, and generally try to be what we’re not.  Therefore, I’ve come up with my list of five New Year’s resolutions, aimed at becoming a better and more productive writer.  I hope you will find some hope in them, some inspiration, a warning or two, and maybe a mirror.  Here we go:

RESOLUTION #1:  Put off Procrastination!  Writers – particularly myself – are great avoiders.  That’s because nothing is harder to face than that blank page.  (At least, writers really like to think that.  When pressed, I can actually think of a thousand other things that are more difficult to face – a tax audit for one, cleaning up after my dogs in the back yard for another, and anything that arrives in the mail that begins with the phrase, “We are sure that due to some unintended oversight on your part we have not received…”)   Nevertheless, I’m aware of my problem of waiting to the last moment to write something, and eventually I plan to do something about it.  I’m just not going to rush into anything – okay?

RESOLUTION #2:  (PLEASE NOTE:  This is actually an addendum to Resolution #1.)  Avoid playing online video games!  I really should start this resolution with the phrase, “Hello, I’m Brad Geagley and I’m an online mahjong addict.”  Write a paragraph, play three games of online mahjong.  Hit a bump in your writing, play three games of online solitaire.  The trouble is that it may take ten minutes to write the paragraph, but half-an-hour to play the three games I limit myself to.  Actually, I’m getting a little easier with this because I just read an essay by Jonathan Franzen, who claims that he has won nine games of online solitaire in a row.  My question is this – if I can win ten games of online solitaire in a row, will this make me a better writer than Jonathan Franzen?  I don’t know but I’m going to find out!

RESOLUTION #3:  Focus!  Focus!  Focus!  Do not be waylaid by research!  Avoid Wikipedia!  Since I write novels that are usually historically based, I am called from time to time to research the odd factoid.  For instance, when I was writing “Year of the Hyenas”, which is based in the late period of Ancient Egypt, one of my characters is a potter.  Since I took a ceramics class in college, I know that you can hand-build items using slabs and coils or cast them on a wheel.  But I didn’t know which technique the ancient Egyptians used – so, to the Internet!  Well, Wikipedia did not come right out and tell me the answer, but it had a very interesting sub-article about the kind of clay the Nile produced, and how many of the ancient clay dredgers had been dragged to their deaths by Nile crocodiles, and when I clicked on that sub article, I was stunned to learn that prehistoric crocodiles had actually preyed on such beasts as the Tyrannosaurus Rex, for they had found Albertosaurus remains (which I discovered was a smaller relative of the Rex, found in – where else? – Alberta, Canada) in the fossilized belly of a sixty-foot crocodile, and how the apex predator of the Jurassic still lives among us in rivers and lagoons, only at a much smaller size…well, two hours later I still hadn’t learned whether the Egyptians had built their pots with coils or wheels, and so I wrote that my potter used a wheel – I figured that I’m writing fiction, for God’s sake!  If you want to know more about ancient Egyptian pottery, you go to Wikipedia.

RESOLUTION #4:  Be more Entrepreneurial!  Promote yourself!  Get your name out there!  It’s not enough to be a good writer; sadly, you also have to get yourself known by the public.  If not, you’re that tree in the forest that no one knows has fallen because no one was there to listen to you crack.  Therefore, from now on, for every day of 2012 I’m going to write to Oprah Winfrey and beg her to read my work, and then to promote it on her “O” channel.  And once she has said yes, I will haughtily spurn her approaches, saying that my fiction is high art and that it cannot be sullied by such crass fingers as hers!  After all, it worked for Jonathan Franzen – no one had heard about the little creep before he had kicked her in the teeth.  Or, I might go the James Frey route and write a complete work of fiction and tell the apparently-credulous Ms. Winfrey that it is the absolute truth.  How foolish she will look then, and how superior I will seem!  (She has obviously never written a thing herself, for she doesn’t know the fact that, when caught between writing a better sentence or telling the simple truth, most writers will choose the sentence.  As Livy said, “I would have had Pompey win the battle of Pharsalus if it meant a more beautiful turn of phrase.”)  At any rate, I’m absolutely sure that Oprah will answer me and then I’ll be made!  PR problem solved!

RESOLUTION #5:  Write ten usable pages every day!  And I will do that just as soon as I finish my game of mahjong, read that article on mahjong’s origins and how the Chinese Emperors once banned it as irreligious and right after I’ve heard from Oprah.

There.  I feel much better now that I have a really workable plan.

Question for My Dear Readers Who are Writers…

23 Mar

Oh, Canada!

21 Mar

I’m swamped today and headed off to teach tomorrow, but wanted to tell you that Chronicles of Sanguivorous, The Rising is available on Smashwords, the formatting for SW has yet to be proven, so if you’d like to wait for the Kindle edition, it won’t be long. Did I mention this first edition is free? If you love it, let me know and I’ll quickly finish Volume II.

And today is the first day in the blog that my international readers outnumber my American readers. Warm hello to my Canadian friends, and all our readers all over the world. It’s thrilling to me to see my WordPress map light up worldwide.

Also if you’re not follow me on Twitter, come on board… It’s always a fun conversation and the community is very entertaining and supportive of writers and aspiring writers. Follow me @BradGeagley and @Sanguivorous1, if you’re more attuned to the vampires and creatures of the night.

More About My Upcoming Novel, Chronicles of the Sanguivorous, The Rising

19 Mar

Where were we? Ah, more about my upcoming novel, Chronicles of the Sanguivorous, The Rising. As you read this, it’s being churned from a word doc to a .mobi and so on, so you can download it on Kindle, iPad or Nook. I promise you’ll know the moment it appears. And we’re doing everything we can to make the first volume free.

My own conceit is that vampires are a species of super-predators that appear periodically in history to “thin the herds.”  After slumbering in the earth for hundreds of years, during which the memory of their last rising has been forgotten or turned into folk tales by mankind, they rise again – shriveled, gaunt and ferociously thirsty – to wreak havoc on the populations they encounter.  Blood itself carries “cellular memories” so that vampires become instantly aware of languages and what has happened since they last “went to ground.”

In  “The Rising”, they discover that mankind has begun to settle in cities (in particularly the city of Ur of the Chaldees) and that the rudiments of religion are being created.  It is at that moment in history when the Earth Mother has given way to the Sky Gods.  They cleverly seize on religion, claiming to be ferocious gods who demand human sacrifice.  The prey is thus brought to them; in fact, the first novel concludes in the historically true vaults of Ur, where a tremendous amount of human skeletons were discovered, all part of a mass human sacrificial ritual.

After an indeterminate number of years on earth, the Sanguivorous are irresistibly called again to slumber in soil and rock.  Each book begins with them awaking into a new age.  In book two, for instance, a civil war brews between the vampire tribes.  They, in fact, become the gods and goddesses worshipped by the Trojans and the Greeks, and “The Iliad” is retold from their vampire perspective.  Book three takes place in Jerusalem, beginning in Bethlehem…well, let’s just say that the phrase “blood into wine” takes on a whole new meaning.  And so on, right up into the late nineteenth century when they rise again, spurring an entire new interest in vampires through the likes of Bram Stoker, Bela Lugosi, and all the rest.  Would it surprise you that they might make an appearance, too?

Uniting all these books will be the story of Aron and Enna, lovers from prehistoric Mesopotamia, whose wedding night is torn asunder by murderous winds – the first sign that the Blood Eaters are rising – and who become the victims of a family feud that is played out for three millennia.

And there you have the story in a nutshell.

But will you do me a favor?  After you read the book, will you please write to me and let me know what you think of the story?  Have I jumped on the vampire bandwagon too late?  Is the public thoroughly sick of the entire genre?  Should I even continue?

Let me know – and, while you’re doing that, take a moment to download The Stand In, too.  I promise you, no vampires there.  Just a damn good thriller.

Chronicles of the Sanguivorous, Not Just Another Vampire Novel

18 Mar

Sanguivorous means blood-eater.

Allow me to present to you, my newest novel. And very soon, dear reader, will be able to download Chronicles of the Sanguivorous, The Rising for free.

The novel is part of a planned seven book series that I’ve outlined, called The Chronicles of the Sanguivorous, with the first book being subtitled, “The Rising.”  As some of you might have already guessed, it’s about vampires.

I love vampire stories; they’ve always appealed to me, all the way back to when I was a kid and read Dracula for the first time.  Then Interview with the Vampire came along, which still is the overly prolific Anne Rice’s greatest work.  I particularly enjoy the Sookie Stackhouse books and love HBO’s “True Blood” series made from them.  Somehow, the working class South and eternal vampires make for a potent combination, and my hat’s off to Charlaine Harris for coming up with such a winning concept.

So, inspired– I decided to write my own vampire series, bringing my own particular historical twist to them.  I had always wanted to write a time travel book about a love that lasted for centuries, but I didn’t want to write science fiction.  I take the story all the way back to the beginning of history when vampires were first mentioned in the historical records.

That turned out to be in Mesopotamia, which is a very convenient place for me to write about because I had done extensive research on it for my second best-selling novel, Day of the False King, which is set in ancient Babylon.  It is believed by scholars that the vampire legends first arose there, when wind demons, desiring a corporeal body, mated with the depraved King Lugal.  Their misbegotten spawn became the vampire of legend.

(Stay tuned… details about the upcoming novel in my next post.) 

Dear Marilyn, Part Two

13 Mar

First, I want to apologize for the delay. My goal is to write two posts a week, but between the start of my new semester (I teach screenplay writing at Mt. San Antonio College) and finishing a screenplay, the time just got away from me.

Please keep reading, but … Have you read my latest book, The Stand In? 1957 Hollywood, intrigue and mystery for less than a latte. Now available on KindleNookeBook, and iPad. Downloading the book is a great way to support this indie-author. 

At any rate, where were we? Ah, yes, saying goodbye to the late, great Marilyn Monroe…

To recap, I was once the principle researcher on a best-selling book called, “Marilyn, the Last Take”, which dealt with Marilyn Monroe’s last film and final days. The real point of the book was to prove that the Kennedy’s had secretly killed her, making her death look like a suicide, because she supposedly was going to go public with her affairs with both John and Bobby.

How did they kill her? Well, there were two ways that were contemplated: one of the ambulance attendants, an FBI operative, purportedly gave her a hypodermic straight into her heart to cause an embolism. The other theory was that someone had given her an enema filled with seconal. When you think of it, both suppositions are equally nutty. Was the FBI supposed to plant someone on one of the many EMT services available, in the hope that they would be called in case Marilyn was in crisis mode? And the thought of someone taking the time to stick thirty seconal tablets up her ass is…well, a grotesquerie. What was Marilyn supposed to be doing all the time they were fiddling “down there”? The most logical explanation was that everyone around her knew that Marilyn staged suicide attempts for sympathy, during which she called all her friends to say goodbye, knowing that one of them would rescue her. On that last night, however, no one came. One conspiracy theory is that the Kennedy’s forbade their in-law and Monroe’s best friend, Peter Lawford, to intervene that night – and that’s the closest it ever came to murder. At best, it was a negligent homicide.

Well, as I’ve said, the book was an immense best-seller and it was fun to be associated with it. I so enjoyed working with its authors, Peter Brown and Patte Barham (true LA royalty, whose father gave his name to the famed boulevard located next to Universal Studios), and never expected to again become connected to the book. But when it was scheduled to come out in paperback, the authors once again contacted me.

It seems that after the hardbound book was published, the TV show “Unsolved Mysteries” had done an episode about “the unsolved murder” of Marilyn Monroe, and Robert Stack had asked the public to write to L.A. Supervisor Antonovich to reopen the case. The Supervisor needed something like 30,000 signatures for legality purposes, if I remember correctly, but received only 8,000 letters and the matter was dropped.

In the meantime, however, after reading the first issue of the book, other people had come from the shadows to tell the authors what they knew, and their “confessions” were to comprise the addendum that was to be included in the paperback. My job was to go to the Antonovich office to read those 8,000 letters; to see “if there were any legitimate clues” that could be found in them.

Let me say that I found no legitimate clues. But, oh my God – those letters gave me a harrowing insight into the public’s collective mind that I have never forgotten.

I got to the Antonovich office in the morning and was led to a stark, windowless room where boxes and boxes of the letters were piled. I began to read them and became increasingly appalled at what they contained – and then, after the first two-thousand had been digested, I began to realize that they were repeating themselves. I saw patterns begin to emerge, and I was soon able to catalog them into a few sub-categories.
First, I’d like to say that only the very old, the very young, the truly profane, and the certifiably crazy took the trouble to write. Why? It’s because the sane, ordinary people don’t write at all. We’re too busy leading our lives, working our jobs, raising our kids, balancing our checkbooks – we just don’t have the time.
The next thing to surprise me was that the letters came from all over the world, from wherever the show was broadcast – mainly from Australia and New Zealand but also from Europe and even Vietnam. Antonovich couldn’t have used these signatures at all, because only American Citizens could have signed the petition to reopen the Monroe murder case. The foreign letters could not be counted, which cut the number of interested parties to about half.

The sub-category I next became aware of, because they were the most numerous, was the Marilyn for Sainthood letters. There was something so evanescent about her cotton-candy screen image that people could pin any hope and belief to her memory. To these writers, she was the Tragic Victim of an unfeeling world, too pure to live in its muck, a secular saint that was too fine for this hard, hard world. “Yes,” they said, “yes! By all means eopen the case, so that her true glory can shine again!” My God, I thought after reading them, this is how saints and redeemers are created. Marilyn is becoming Our Lady of the Overdose! (I just bet that this was how Jesus came to be regarded in those first years after his crucifixion – a gossamer mannequin that you could clothe in any costume you wanted. He could be Everything and Everyman. Now the same beatification process was happening to Marilyn.) What those letter writers seemed to forget was that Billy Wilder had called her the “meanest woman in Hollywood” or that Tony Curtis had said that “kissing her was like kissing Hitler”; they had also forgotten that she was an erotic vagrant of epic proportions and that she had terrorized directors and producers with her sheer and utterly selfish unprofessionalism. Yes, she burnt a hole in celluloid like no one else, but at what a cost – to both herself and the studios that employed her. In truth she was just ordinarily insane, just like her mother, and that’s from where our pity should spring. But to these writers, she was a goddess; enshrinement was their only end.

The next category I noticed was that of the Kennedy haters. They would write to anyone who asked them to vent their spleen about that terrible family. “She was assinated!” wrote one of them. (Need I mention that grammar and spelling skills were not readily apparent in most of these letters?) “The Kennedy’s were behind it and she was assinated!” (Yes, I thought, and after that she was rectified!) One particular writer went into lengthy discussion about how he could prove that it wasn’t Teddy Kennedy who had driven Mary Jo Kopechne into the drink, but that it was actually John F. Kennedy. John, you see, had actually survived that nasty “assination” attempt in Dallas, and the family had secretly installed him – almost a vegetable – on Chappaquiddick Island. Apparently they trusted him with the car keys, however, and poor Mary Jo paid the price. Teddy had come forward to cover the entire thing up! They assinated her!
Then there were the letters that went into what I called the Sacred Relics pile. These writers wanted Monroe’s body disinterred for any number of reasons – one saying that we would find a chip on her breast bone, where the aforementioned FBI agent had nicked it when he gave her that embolism. The most plaintive came from a gentleman from a foreign clime. “Please do a DNA test on Miss Monroe’s remains. The test will prove that I am the long-lost child she gave up for adoption in 1949” – which had been a long standing rumor, by the way – “signed, Quon Duc Pho of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.”

The most bizarre grouping of letters came from what I soon called the Lonely Woman Club, which exists mainly in Australia and New Zealand, but with ancillary chapters in places like Wyoming and Montana. Long, rambling twenty-page hand-written letters would describe their bleak lives on distant ranches or farms. “People have often compared me to Miss Monroe,” went one of them, “and often remark that I, too, am sad and tragic and not fit for this life.” Then a tiny slur against Monroe: “Only I am a natural blond!” Invariably these women would send snapshots of themselves posed provocatively against the corral fence, beside their best friend in the world, their horse Fluffy. I thought the first one was odd when I read it, but along about the thirtieth (complete with snapshots), I realized that these women (and they were only women) were so pathetically lonely that they would write to just about anyone who asked them, even a stranger on a television show. Then, almost as an afterthought on the last page they would remember the ostensible reason why they wrote and add, “please add my name to reopen the Marilyn Monroe murder case.”

I know there were other genres of letter, but I can’t quite remember them all. Suffice to say I had a whole new respect for our poor members of congress, city councils, and even Presidents – because if these were the kinds of people who wrote to them, just imagine what they must be thinking! We’re a nation of imbeciles, that’s what.

Perhaps the most profound thing I learned from these letters is that people are truly comforted by conspiracy theories. It is far safer to think that there was an important reason behind the death of a politician or a movie star; that cabals and conspirators with their elaborate and improbable plots are behind everything. What terrifies people most seems to be pure, uncaring randomness – because if even the likes of a protected, cocooned star like Marilyn Monroe can be doomed by chance or chaos, what hope do the rest of us have?

Dear Marilyn (Part One)

7 Mar

Dear Marilyn (Part One).

Dear Marilyn (Part One)

6 Mar

I just completed a screenplay yesterday for a proposed mystery series, in which the events revolve around the disappearance of a long-dead star’s body from her crypt.  She has been “collected”, you see, by a rabid fan.  Her corpse becomes, in effect, the ultimate piece of film memorabilia.  In the screenplay I call the star “Maxine Morrow”, but, as everyone will realize, it’s really Marilyn Monroe.  There’s been a long-standing rumor that Monroe’s body is not in the Westwood cemetery where she was laid to rest.  A corner of the marble door to her crypt sported a big chip for quite a while, allowing the faithful to touch her coffin if they so desired.  But some darker sources hint that the chip happened when her body had been whisked away by her acolytes, to become the centerpiece of some bizarre cult – and this is the nugget from which I drew my plot.  Who knows whether or not it’s true – it’s still a good story.  For me, the interesting thing in the writing of this screenplay was that I was forced to replay some incidents from my own past – for you see; I too have a tenuous connection to Marilyn.

The events I’m about to relate are true.  At first I thought I would turn them into a one-person play, in which a single actor plays all the parts; but with my last year’s first and only foray into the theater, I thought, “Why not just write about it for your blog?”  (The only thing that the theater did was convince me that I was much more temperamentally suited to being a novelist than a playwright.  I will always be grateful for the experience, if only because it was a clarifying one, but the theater really isn’t for me; more about that later.)

So here’s my story…

Before I became a full-time novelist, I served as a researcher on a couple of books, one of which was a best-seller.  It was called “Marilyn, the Last Take” by Peter Brown and Patte Barham (each of whom was an amazing character in their own right, and worthy of a book of their own).  The book concerned itself with Marilyn Monroe’s last (unfinished) film, the prophetically titled “Something’s Gotta Give”.  Incidentally, it also purported to at last uncover the truth about Marilyn’s so-called murder at the hands of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.

I was hired mainly for my knowledge concerning the botched production of “Cleopatra”, which was the shadow story in the book; “Cleo”, if you remember, was being shot at the same time as “Something’s Gotta Give”.  It was the authors’ contention that one of the reasons 20th Century Fox pulled the plug on Marilyn’s picture, leading to her emotional meltdown and eventual death, was because of the studio’s horrendous travails with Elizabeth Taylor’s shenanigans in Rome – they simply could not afford two divas at the same moment, each with a reputation for tardiness, illness, and emotional volatility.  Clearly, with millions and millions of dollars sunk into its gargantuan production, “Cleopatra” was the more important picture.  The supposition taken by the authors was that the brunette won her battle with the studio while the blonde lost hers.

The book was an immense best-seller, mainly because of the Kennedy connection.  By this time, the late 1980s, the shocking news that the president’s mistress had been none other than Hollywood’s most famous and tragic blonde was old hat.  The truth was that Kennedy treated Monroe as just another serviceable doll, and when he was through with her he handed her off to his brother.  (This same territory had been covered as early as 1965 in Jacqueline Susann’s roman a clef, “Valley of the Dolls.”)  Monroe, however, was not just another easy bimbo and refused to endure such shabby treatment.  She was no $100 a night girl – she was a star!  Monroe pestered the President and his brother with daily calls and letters, insisting that she was going to spill the beans both to their wives and the public, and had, in fact, called a press conference for the following Monday morning.  That Sunday, however, she was found dead in her bedroom and the press conference never happened.

Well, there you have the ingredients for the perfect conspiracy theory.  You have the hysterical White House handlers, the unstable star, the pre-emptive murder made to look like a suicide, and the subsequent cover-up.  The real story was that sometime during the research phase the authors and I discovered that there was no proof whatsoever that the Kennedy’s had a connection to Monroe’s death.  Marilyn had been “sliding toward extinction” for most of her life.  She was forever getting plastered on the weekends with booze and pills, subsequently calling up her friends, members of the Rat Pack, and treating them to long, teary farewells.  “Say goodbye to the President for me,” she supposedly gurgled that last night, “and say goodbye to you, too, ‘cause you’re a pretty nice guy.”  Her friends even had a phrase for it – “Marilyn’s dangling the phone again.”

Usually one of them would race off to her house, revive her, call her shrink and have her stomach pumped out.  All would be well – for about another week.  Then it would start all over again, except that the last time everybody was tired.  No one went to help her, thinking that someone else would get it.  At worst, Marilyn’s death could only be labeled a negligent homicide – that people knew she was dying but did nothing about it.  The truth was that she had been dying every weekend for the last couple of years.  Her friends were sick of the endless drama.  (We’ve all had friends like this, haven’t we; people we’ve dropped from our lives because the emotional wear and tear is just so fierce.  Self-centered neurotics are fun theater for a short while, until you realize it’s all about them, and that you can never be more than a supporting player in their lives.)

Peter and Patte decided to contact their publisher, Random House, to tell them that they could not tie the Kennedy’s to Monroe’s death, but that they had a pretty interesting story to replace it nonetheless.  Do you know what the publisher’s reply was?  “You contracted with us to tell the story that the  Kennedy’s killed Marilyn Monroe, and by God you’d better deliver it or perhaps our lawyers will speak a tongue you comprehend.”  It was Gore Vidal’s cynical prophecy come horribly to life – that the new literature of the modern age takes real names, real places, and real events and simply makes all the rest up.

So here’s the lesson I wish to impart unto you today:  think of this story every time you read the purported “truth” in books or in magazines or in newspapers.  Remember that writing is slanted.  All writing has an agenda.  All publishing is about money.  If you want the truth, you must locate and read articles from many sources and then come to your own conclusions.  Somewhere in one of them there might be the kernel that engendered all the commentary – just don’t expect to find it in the book store, on the television or in the newsstand.  We have been so managed and maneuvered by our news sources that we don’t know what end is up anymore.

In other words:  DON’T BELIEVE ANYTHING!

After the publisher’s scary dictate, the authors and I had to go back to emphasize every untruth, every veiled accusation, and every raving innuendo made by some nut case who claimed to know the real story.  But the publishers got what they wanted – a best seller.  It even engendered an episode on “Unsolved Mysteries” – which was a bonanza of publicity for the book and its subsequent release in paperback – in which Robert Stack solemnly urged the public to write the Los Angeles Supervisor’s office to “uncover the truth about Marilyn Monroe’s murder!”

That’s when it really got interesting.

Next:  “Dear Marilyn – Part Two”:  in which I read through 8,000 letters from “all those little people out there in the dark,” as Norma Desmond was fond of saying.  You might think that Hollywood people are crazy, but let me assure you – they got nothing on the public.  You might even think that the events depicted in my latest novel, “The Stand In,” (also set in Hollywood and also based on a true story) are lurid escapism –

But just wait!

Have you read The Stand In? Available on KindleNookeBook, and iPad. Downloading the book is a great way to support this indie-author. 

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