Hollywood’s legendary Chateau Marmont

Chateau-Marmont-West-Hollywood-California

I’m reading “Life at the Marmont: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Legendary Hotel of the Stars, Chateau Marmont,” by Raymond Sarlot, the hotel’s owner from 1975 – 1991, and Fred Basten, an accomplished chronicler of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Together, Sarlot and Basten explore its history, dispel its myths, and flesh out the legends of the incomparable Marmont Hotel. The book was originally published in 1987. In the 2013 Penguin Books edition, Basten provides an afterword that brings the Marmont Hotel’s elite guest list up to date.

As you might expect, the book contains a treasure trove of celebrity stories and gossip, from the 1930’s through the 21st century. Hundreds of people were interviewed for the book, including former guests Lauren Bacall, Yul Brynner, Richard Chamberlain, Glenn Ford, Louis Malle, Robert Osborne, Lynn Redgrave, Ginger Rogers, and Donald Sutherland. The authors also share stories about the hotel itself, its renowned decor, long-tenured staff, and less well known, private playpens that existed outside of public view. Chateau Marmont overlooks Sunset Boulevard, but the views that these authors reveal are much more intriguing than the Los Angeles skyline.

The story of the Marmont parallels the evolution of early Hollywood, through its heydays in the 40’s and 50’s, and the studios’ challenges from radio, television and digital media. The book links the past with the present in a steady stream of intriguing episodes. Yes, it’s gossipy but the authors are respectful; for example, they handle to unfortunate death of John Belushi with care and compassion. Its stories aren’t limited to actors, either. Sarlot and Basten include events that featured writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, studio chiefs like Harry Cohn and Louis B. Mayer, and musicians like Edith Piaf, Mick Jagger, and John Lennon.

This book contains all of the glamour, the fantasy, and the dishy-ness that any Hollywood Babylon junkie could want. It’s a fun read and I recommend it whole-heatedly.

Genre fiction (and poetry)

I discovered a new (to me) source for fiction and poetry publications, Big Pulp. Big Pulp is a quarterly magazine whose formats include both print and electronic. They accept fiction and poetry in several genres – Fantasy, Mystery, Adventure, Horror, Science Fiction, and Romance. They explain that their definitions of these genres are quite broad. Horror stories, for example, can reach beyond the zombie or vampire story to explore man’s inhumanity. Their concept is to recreate the Golden Age of Pulp, when newsstands were crowded with scores of periodicals that appealed to a wide variety of interests.

Big Pulp pays for the submissions they accept, by the word. Right now, the submission window is open until May 31. To learn more about submitting work to this magazine, visit their submissions page at http://bigpulp.com/submissions.html

Take a look, Fellow Writers – this just might be the right vehicle for your work. bigpulp_2011_12

Day 7

It’s Day 7 of the National Novel Writing Month endeavor and I’ve hit 11,960 words. The process moves forward in fits and starts.

I’m invested in these characters in a way I didn’t expect. I have to be careful not to shelter them at the expense of the plot or the arc of the story. The fantasy aspect I first envisioned is taking a back seat to the relationships between these 10 characters. It’s an eye-opening process, as I’ve been a short story writer for so many, many years.

My writing buddy, Mark, is also keeping up with the daily word count. His encouragement and words of wisdom are invaluable. Our two stories couldn’t be more different. His is a coming-of-age novel set in the 1970’s. Mine is a contemporary story about middle school aged students and the adults in their lives.

I started the process with a big crush on the idea behind the novel – what I’ve called a “No-mance.” But I think the honeymoon may be over and the difficult work of making this marriage work is upon me.

FreeFlashFiction

Here’s a link to my story that was shortlisted for October’s contest in FreeFlashFiction.com.  http://www.freeflashfiction.com/index.php/stories/science-fiction-and-fantasy/time-capsule-karen-walsh/

The theme was time travel. I opted for the sci-fi/fantasy genre. The Time Capsule tells the story of a freelance writer whose latest assignment is to investigate a pharmaceutical company’s newest product. Swallow the “time capsule” and revisit your past, in reverse. But there are cautions, and what she discovers once she returns from the experience forever changes her life.