Today, it’s my honor to let Pam Ripling, author of Cape Seduction, take over my blog:
The Glamorous Mystery
Happy Labor Day!
As I celebrate the release of CAPE SEDUCTION this month, I’ve talked a lot about the lighthouse that figures prominently in this romantic mystery set partially in 1948. After all, lighthouses are romantic, mysterious, isolated places that spark the imagination. I’ve found kinship with readers who love the old beacons and find them a fascinating setting for a good book. But Dragon Rock Lighthouse isn’t the only interesting backdrop for CAPE SEDUCTION. Indeed, the 1948 portion of the book starts off at the Brown Derby, one of Hollywood’s most famous eateries. It’s Oscar night, and the stars have come out to honor—and gossip about—their own. Here’s a “clip”:
Before Cecelia Kent brought the cigarette to her lips, the two men sitting in her midst thrust their lighters forward. One of them, her husband, the charming and much lauded film star, Jordan Kent. With his crystal blue eyes and slicked back, rich sienna hair, his face had launched many a teenaged heartbreak. The other man, her powerful, movie mogul father, Harvey Bregman, flicked a flame first and lit the Chesterfield. Batting her eyelashes as the gray smoke swirled about her face, Cecelia wore a bored expression as she panned the restaurant around her. A waitress appeared, filled their water glasses.
“Well, it’s a shame about Rosalind. Everyone in town swore she’d be taking home Best Actress,” Cecelia lamented, tapping her cigarette on the ashtray before her. “They’re saying Variety already had the headline typeset. ‘Rosalind Russell wins the gold for her stunning portrayal of Lavinia in Mourning Becomes Electra!‘”
“Did you see March’s face when he opened the damned envelope? He was shocked as hell. You could tell,” Jordan agreed, taking a quick puff off his own smoke before snuffing it out.
“Frederic was shocked? Poor Ros had already begun to rise out of her chair to accept. But what did she do? She went right into a standing ovation.”
“Yeah, she’s a class act all the way.” Jordan glanced at Harvey Bregman, who’d kept quiet during the exchange with Cecelia. “So. Harv. What do you say?”
Bregman shrugged, reached for his scotch. “Loretta deserved the Oscar.”
Before anyone could comment further on Loretta Young’s surprising upset, another couple hurried up to the table. The woman, Jordan noticed, couldn’t have been more than twenty-one years old. Her full-length, faux fur coat matched her dark brown hair, cut into a bob years out-of-date but which gave her dark eyes and fair skin a sort of pixie look.
“Sorry we’re so late! The traffic on Sunset was just awful,” she gushed, hanging onto the arm of her date a little too tightly. “Russell, honey, could you get this animal off my back?”
“Sure, doll.” Russell Harrington made a great show of sliding the coat off the woman’s shoulders, then flagged a waitress to remove it to the coat room.
“It’s freezing out there! Can you believe the wind? Where shall I sit? Are we boy-girl?”
Cecelia looked up through lowered lashes at the woman, her expression one of distaste and arrogance. She said nothing, letting the smoke from her cigarette create a fog around her. Jordan, however, grinned.
“Damned cold, yes. Did you see Reagan’s hair when he came into the Shrine? Ha!”
“Ronnie always looks perfect to me.” Cecelia uttered her comment toward her husband but did not look him in the eye.
“He looked okay when he did Best Picture. Anybody surprised?” Russell asked, leaning down to help himself to a bit of caviar from the plate on the table.
“I thought Possessed should have won,” the brunette said, finally settling into the open seat beside Jordan. Russell sat on her other side. “Joan Crawford–”
“Darla, sweetie, Possessed wasn’t even nominated,” Russell corrected. “I put my money on Body and Soul.”
“Joan was a smash. Jordan Kent, by the way,” Jordan said, holding his hand out to Darla. “And you are?”
“Darla Foster. Pleased to meet you.” Darla smiled sweetly, shook Jordan’s hand, then subtly jabbed Russell with her elbow.
“Sorry, Jordie boy. Forgot you hadn’t met Darla. She’s new in town. Darla, Cecelia. Jordie’s little woman. And Harvey Bregman.”
“Hi,” Darla said, offering a little wave as Cecelia gave a curt nod while puffing away.
Harvey Bregman lifted halfway out of his chair, leaning across the table to take Darla’s hand. “Welcome to Hollywood, Miss Foster. Gateway to mayhem and madness.”
From reading the excerpt, what did you learn about the night? The era? Here is an example of taking a real event with actual facts and having fictional characters react to it. The film titles, the actors’ names, the locales all give the work a sense of authenticity that engages the reader and enhances the interest. It’s a pivotal scene in the book, where a young starlet meets the man that can make her dreams—and nightmares—come true.
I’ve been asked what inspired me to write about this era, a time before I was born. For one thing, I love the movies. I love films made in this period. Post-war Hollywood was a vibrant, interesting time. The music, the advancing technology, the upswing – and the suspense of McCarthyism and witch-hunts, which also have a role in CAPE SEDUCTION. Also, I grew up in North Hollywood, and spent many an afternoon hanging around the studios, always thrilled to spy or even meet a star as they frequented shops and restaurants on Hollywood Boulevard. They were the beautiful people, and they are fun to write about. What about today’s celebs? Eh–!
Another question I get is: who is the lovely, vintage star on the cover? This sweet faced gal is 1920’s-30’s star Alice White. Although her fame preceded that of my character Darla Foster, her look epitomized Darla in my mind’s eye. Darla was quirky, and would have stubbornly clung to the “look” of a previous time, just to be different. Ah, the glamour…
Thanks, Jenny, for letting me have the soapbox today! I always enjoy reading your blog and hope your readers will have fun reading my words.
Reminder: To celebrate the release of CAPE SEDUCTION, I’m holding a contest! All you have to do is read the CAPE SEDUCTION excerpt and leave me a relative comment—you’ll be in the drawing for FIVE Echelon Press eBooks of your choice, downloaded onto a really cool 2GB flash drive! (Or a $25 gift card to B&N, your choice.) Drawing will be on my last blog tour stop. See schedule at my website!