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.

Hollywood Stories Book Review and Interview with the Author Stephen Schochet

Title: Hollywood Stories

Author: Stephen Schochet

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

Publisher: Hollywood Stories Publishing

Publication Date: February 2010

Page Count: 334

About the Book:

The cover of Hollywood Stories describes itself as a book of “short, entertaining anecdotes about the stars and legends of the movies!”  Stephen Schochet spent more than 20 years as a Hollywood tour guide, researching and telling thousands of entertaining anecdotes, some of which he compiled for this book.

Here’s an interview with the author from NBC4 in Los Angeles:

AmazonMy Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed the captivating stories in Hollywood Stories.  Each anecdote starts with the story itself, then adds in two or three “extras” which relate to the story.  Some of these stories were familiar to me, but many were surprising.  These stories are sometimes inspirational, sometimes humorous and always entertaining.  This is a fast read – it is easy to read through three or four stories in just a few minutes and each story is unto itself.  Don’t be surprised if you get so engrossed in this book that your kids start pounding on the bathroom door to be let in!!

My rating for this book: 5 out of 5 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!! A must read!!

Interview with the Author:

TM: How did you discover the stories you tell in Hollywood Stories?

SS:I had always been interested in the movies and history so it was kind of a natural fit for me. When I first started I had a study buddy named Ivan.  During our breaks we would research information about old Hollywood and share it with each other.  I remember one time we met on Hollywood Boulevard and he said to me in a low, conspiratorial tone, “Steve, man, you know what I found out today? That Thomas Edison owned the rights to the movie camera and the early moguls like Mayer, Warner, and Zukor they had to pay him tributes.  That’s why they left the East Coast and came west — they were outlaws, baby!”  The more information we found out, the more fun it was to give the tour.  And I’ve got a good memory for stories so having different material kept it fresh, I think for the customers as well.  Anyway, eventually I had the idea that these very short anecdotes could be told anywhere and that’s what led, after a few other projects, to the idea for the book.

TM: What was your favorite part of being a tour guide?

SS: Just the simple act of showing people a good time.  There are moments where I’m feeling very fluid giving people information; when I can sense people are really enjoying it; it’s a very good feeling. One thing I try to do is put myself in the place of the customer who may being seeing Hollywood for the only time in their life.

TM:  Do you have any tips for other writers on getting their work noticed?

SS: Tell EVERYONE about the book.  I have a business card with a picture of the book and the web site that  pass out at coffee shops, Home Depot, Doctor’s offices, wherever.  The late Dick Clark talked about how the secret to broadcasting is to remember that you are always talking to one person; I try to emulate that when I am doing radio interviews or tours.  And be enthusiastic about your work; I have no problems letting people know they will have fun if they read my book.

TM: What was the best writing-related advice you ever received?

I read an interview with the late animator Chuck Jones which really helped me put things in perspective about doing the best you can; I made it a story in my book:

Be All You Can Be!
Legendary animator Chuck Jones identified more with his less-than-perfect characters. Bugs Bunny was such an invincible force that he had to be minding his own business before he was provoked. Only then could the rabbit be justified in raining down complete destruction on his enemies. Chuck Jones felt more kinship with the perennial loser Daffy Duck. Likewise, the ever-hungry Coyote was made more sympathetic than the invulnerable Roadrunner. The helpless carnivore, that was totally responsible for his own destruction, represented Jones’ personal ineptness with tools. How could someone with such an inferiority complex be a success in his own career? Chuck often told the story how when he was a kid in art school, he wanted to quit because the other students were so much more talented than he was. He changed his mind when the teacher advised him, “Just be the best Chuck Jones you can be.”

TM: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to discuss?

SS: I am working on a second book but Hollywood Stories involved twenty years of research so no time limits as to when it will be done.  I’m still collecting new material all  the time; I really think books, at least in my case, are built, rather than just written from scratch.  One thing I can suggest if people want to do media is never stop preparing.  I recently did a bunch of interviews involving The Three Stooges who I have several anecdotes about in my book; I did additional research and did not stick to what I had written and now I have some new material for a later edition or second book.  I found from re-reading The Three Stooges Scrapbook by Jeff Lenburg, Joan Howard Maurer and Greg Lenburg (wonderful book by the way) that Larry, despite living lavishly and beyond his means, never spent that much on food and was always hungry.  One day he gobbled up a plate of unattended meat on a movie set and then turned green when he was told he’d just consumed dog food.  The middle stooge turned green, then recovered and said it was actually delicious, where could he get more.  I ended up using that anecdote a few times on radio interviews and the tour.

You can read excerpts from the book on the website.

Follow Stephen Schochet on Facebook.

and Twitter.

and Goodreads.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Ever After PR. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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