"Stardusted" is now available in paperback!

It really is a different thing to hold your own book in your hands, turn the pages and read your words as part of this new thing, a physical object, rather than just seeing them on a screen. Especially when you’re an indie author and have control — for better or worse! — of every step from the initial idea to the writing, editing, getting others to read/edit/comment, right through to designing the cover.

Stardusted proof copy.
Hot off the presses: the proof copy!

I was pretty excited when the proof copy came in the mail!

It’s been great to hear that readers like Stardusted, and I’m excited that now those who don’t like to read on their phones or tablets can find it in paperback form at Amazon. (And for those who don’t do Amazon, we beg your patience as we figure out the ins and outs of publishing independently in other ways! Those other ways are in the works … stay tuned …)

The joys of research

Trying to get historical fiction right is a challenge, but also a joy. One of the reasons I was intrigued by the Golden Age of Hollywood as a setting for a story was that I knew it would be fun to research. I’ve always been as fascinated by the behind-the-scenes stories in the entertainment world as by what ends up onscreen. And the most fascinating of these stories to me are not the ones about who fell in love with whom or who was not the wholesome innocent people saw on the screen. No, I’ve always found the making of movies an absorbing world to peer into.

How did the director find that location? Why did that costume designer always put that actress in big, fluffy sleeves? What horse is that that keeps showing up in different movies with different riders? In some cases, I’d be satisfied just by having that knowledge to add to what I already knew. But there’s something about using that research to inform a story about fictional characters that makes the research even more fun.

My favorite kinds of books for research are memoirs, biographies, and books with lots of photos — not so much the glamorous movie-star portraits (though I love those), but the ones that show the guys behind the camera, doing their best to catch the moments being created in front of the camera. I love “hearing” the actual voice of a performer or director, finding out how they were feeling about that role or this scene, that co-star or this location.

Some sources I’ve loved while writing Stardusted include:

Conversations with the Great Moviemakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age, edited by George Stevens, Jr. Absorbing interviews from the American Film Institute featuring directing icons such as Howard Hawks, George Cukor, Frank Capra and others.

The Moon’s a Balloon, by David Niven. Goodreads notes that this is one of the bestselling memoirs of all time, and it’s well deserved. Niven was there, beginning his long career in the 1930s, and he was every bit as astute an observer and sensitive writer as he was a suave, polished English gentleman, the kind of role he often played in pictures. He went everywhere and knew everyone, went away to help defend Great Britain in World War II, came back a hero, and went back to work.

Hollywood Hoofbeats: Trails Blazed Across the Silver Screen, by Petrine Day Mitchum, Audrey Pavia. You cannot escape the fact, if you read Stardusted, that the author is a dyed-in-the-wool, googly-eyed, unapologetic horse nut. I already knew, from bits and pieces I’d read in various magazines, something about a number of movie and TV horses, but to find them all in one book — from Trigger to Hidalgo — was horse heaven for me.

I love to work the research I’ve done into a story, but I also love to share things that I find amazing, surprising or just weird, and I’ll do more of that here.

September 25, 2019

Here comes Santa Claus

Sure, it snows in California … in the mountains. But a lot of California is just too warm, too desert-y, or too close to the ocean to experience much snowfall. The mild weather and sunny days in Los Angeles have been terrific for shooting movies since the industry was young. But all that sunshine around the holidays has always had more people than just Irving Berlin dreaming of a White Christmas.

To get folks into the gift-shopping spirit, beginning in 1928, merchants renamed a stretch of Hollywood Boulevard “Santa Clause Lane” and staged a parade on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Except for a few years during World War II, the parade has been an annual Los Angeles tradition. Read more here:


Way before Ralph Lauren polo …

… there was Walt Disney, playing polo. Read more here: