The Holden Age of Hollywood Book Review and Interview

PhotobucketThe Holden Age of Hollywood

Phil Brody

Contemporary Fiction

July 2012

296 Pages

About the Book:

Hollywood died on me as soon as I got here. Welles said that, not me, but damn if he didn’t nail it, you know?

Sam Bateman came to Hollywood to settle a score, but amidst the sunny and 75, his plans went astray. Everything changed the day he drank in the intoxicating legend of Meyer Holden, the greatest screenwriter Hollywood has ever known, the one who pulled a Salinger and walked away. Holden now tacks pseudonyms onto his works and buries them in the bottomless sea of spec that is Hollywood’s development process. They’re out there for anyone to find—but at what cost? In his quest, Bateman severs all ties and sinks into a maddening world of bad writing and flawed screenplays. Paranoid and obsessive, the belligerent savant encounters an eccentric cast of characters—each with an agenda—in his search for the one writer in Hollywood who does not want to be found.

My Review:

From the very first page, Sam Bateman, the protagonist of The Holden Age of Hollywood, reminded me of a hard-boiled detective, a post-modern Philip Marlowe.  In fact, Phil Brody’s style of writing has been called “neo-noir”, a term, I assumed coined to describe this modern-day film-noir type.  I loved the snappy dialogue and the footnotes explaining screenwriting jargon and Hollywood “in-jokes” for those of us not in the know.

Only a phenomenal writer could write so many bad script synopses so hilariously well.  And Phil Brody is that evil genius.  Here’s just one example:

 My Date with Minka by Bobby Wickford is an inane comedy about Billy Wackforth’s attempt to score a date with TV/film star Minka Kelly with the help of his good friend Sally Crenshaw. In the end, he goes on the date and mind-bogglingly wins the starlet over, then breaks her heart when he realizes he’s in “serious like” with good friend Sally. Ugh. Surprised it’s not written in crayon.

The Holden Age of Hollywood is a page-turning, tongue-in-cheek look into the often corrupt, but sometimes brilliant, and frequently overlooked world of cinematic pre-production.

I give The Holden Age of Hollywood five golden statuettes!!  A must read!!

About the Author:

Phil Brody lives in Los Angeles and writes every day. He began his career in Chicago in advertising. After moving to LA, Brody toiled in development, penned a few spec scripts, and has worked as a writer, producer, and director in documentary TV. His short film, A Blue Christmas, was the grand prize winner in The Short Film Group’s First Annual Script Competition and was acknowledged in the WorldFest-Houston and Cleveland International Film
Festivals. Brody is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio and an alumnus of Writers Boot Camp in Santa Monica, California. The Holden Age of Hollywood is his first novel.

Interview with the Author:

TM: What sparked the idea for The Holden Age of Hollywood?

PB: I wanted to write about Hollywood. I think any writer that spends enough time here — or does time in Hollywood, as I like to say — yearns to write about it. However, I did not want to write a “typical” Hollywood book about down-and-out talent struggling to be discovered. That is a story I have seen all too often and think it’s played out. However, when I stumbled upon a way to turn that world upside down and analyze it — via “searching for the one writer in Hollywood who does not want to be found” — I ran with it.

TM: Is any of the book based on your life’s experiences?

PB: No. It’s a work of fiction. The book is an allegory or extended metaphor for that creative battle those chasing the dream out here endure. There are, of course, some experiences, people, and places injected into the prose. However, the characters and plot are all derived from my imagination. Having said that, after reading, people often ask, ‘is this character based on you or so-and-so?’ But that just tells me I’ve written something that’s resonating with people. And that makes me happy.

TM:  What is your writing routine?

PB: I’m an early riser. My days typically begins at 6 A.M. I do my best writing in the morning and usually write until around 10. That’s when I take a break and hike in nearby Runyon Canyon, which helps clear my head and recharge the creative batteries. Usually, if things are going well with a project, my characters talk to me throughout my hike and I cannot wait to get my fingers back to my computer keyboard to write some more. That second stretch of writing can last from two to five hours or more, depends on that day. I know a lot writer’s like to write at night, but in that situation, you’re ultimately going to hit a wall with your energy level, which I find frustrating. I enjoy starting in the A.M. with the entire day in front of me.

TM: What advice do you have for aspiring novelists?

PB: 1. Just write.  Write whatever is scratching at your brain to get out. Don’t talk yourself out of it or edit yourself along the way. Get that first draft onto the page. Period.
2. Upon ‘finishing’ your first draft, there’s still a lot of work to be done. You have to polish and edit, and my advice is to find someone you trust to help with that process.
3. When the manuscript is ready, a compelling query letter is key, along with perseverance.
4. If you don’t believe in your book, you won’t succeed in selling your book.

TM: Tell me about any upcoming projects.

PB: The marketing/promotion of The Holden Age of Hollywood has been keeping me busy, but am finding time to write my second novel. It’s not connected to The Holden Age of Hollywood in any way, other than both stories are set in LA. Like Holden, the new book combines genres. It’s called The Dog Wonder, and this time it’s part thriller, part detective novel, an unexpected love story, and a quest to prove a theory as to why man’s best friend would ever attack their friend. Did I succeed in hooking your interest? Hope so.

Follow Phil Brody on Facebook/Twitter/Blog/Goodreads

I received a review copy of this book for the purpose of the interview thanks to Innovative Online Book Tours.  Regardless, all opinions are mine.

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