A Wonderland-esque road of unimagined marvels: revealing the 6th Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novel

The Los Angeles Public Library recently featured me in their Local Author Spotlight series (more about that later). I was very flattered to be included, but it wasn’t until the interview was published this week, that I began to reflect on my journey as a writer.

Five years ago, I didn’t have a novel to my name; I knew nobody, nor anything about this publishing business; and nobody knew who I was. And yet now, here I am prepping the publication of my sixth novel. Looking back, I’m glad I had no idea that publishing my work would lead me down a Wonderland-esque road of such unimagined marvels, connections, and people, and that every corner I’ve turned has been a marvelous surprise.

I guess I’m in a “Wonderland-esque road of unimagined marvels” frame of mind because I am now ready (and excited!) to reveal details of the next book in my Hollywood’s Garden of Allah series.

Book six takes us into Los Angeles of the late 1940s where Hollywoodites, still recovering from the HUAC hearings, look to the horizon where a tiny screen of flickering black-and-white images threatens to upend everything.

"Twisted Boulevard" - book 6, Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels, by Martin Turnbull

TWISTED BOULEVARD

Book 6 in the Garden of Allah novels

by Martin Turnbull

~oOo~

When the Red Scare ends, paranoia lingers. Can Tinseltown recover to take on television?

After an exile from MGM, ousted screenwriter Marcus Adler is looking for his way back into the biz. When he hatches a plan to start over with a disgraced movie star, a Hollywood censor reminds Marcus that the misdeeds of the past aren’t soon forgotten.

Hollywood Reporter columnist Kathryn Massey is always looking for a hot tip. She never expected it would come from Lauren Bacall, and point her toward a new career high. But when a trip to the set of Sunset Boulevard reveals a haunting glimpse into her past, Kathryn isn’t sure who to trust, especially when a hot new rival hits town.

Gwendolyn Brick thought her new store would be a hit, but she never realized it could become a target. Threatened by Los Angeles’ most notorious madam, Gwendolyn will need a Hollywood-style miracle to keep her store alive.

Twisted Boulevard is the sixth installment in the Hollywood’s Garden of Allah saga. If you like richly woven details, the Golden Age of Hollywood, and characters who come to life, then you’ll love Martin Turnbull’s captivating historical fiction series.

~oOo~

And here now is the first chapter:

CHAPTER 1

Gwendolyn Brick was surprised at how different Sunset Boulevard looked from twenty-five feet in the air. Its effervescence always quickened her pulse. New stores, bars, and nightclubs opened, replacing old ones whose time had waned or whose owners weren’t the savvy impresarios they’d imagined. But standing on the roof of 8623 Sunset, Gwendolyn discovered she’d never wondered what the view was like from the top.

“You’re on top now,” she told herself. “In a few hours, you’ll be one of those guys. Let’s hope you’re as shrewd as you think you are.”

The afternoon sunlight slanted across the traffic. It caught the bold stripes of the awning over the front door of the Mocambo as the club’s sign flickered to life. Several blocks east, the lights at Ciro’s illuminated the white columns around the entrance. The neon “C” glowed like a halo.

Dazzling personalities had surged through this town, loaded with talent and handed opportunity like it was caviar on a silver tray. Gwendolyn had watched them glitter and sparkle in the Hollywood stratosphere, only to see their egos crash land like the Hindenburg. A speck of doubt caught in her throat.

Could she really compete in a city full of experienced couturiers?”

She glanced at her watch; it was now-or-never o’clock.

A brisk February wind blustered up the boulevard, whipping her emerald silk dress around her calves. She peered over the edge of the roof to double check that the tangerine cloth she’d hung across the sign of her brand-new dress shop was still in place, hoping it would stay there for her grand unveiling.

She scuttled across the graveled rooftop and was climbing down the ladder as graceful as a calf-length skirt permitted just as a dark blue DeSoto pulled into the parking lot. Three figures emerged holding boxes crammed with the stuff of which successful launches were made: booze.

Gwendolyn had known Kathryn Massey and Marcus Adler since the week they all moved into the Garden of Allah Hotel. She’d arrived from the other Hollywood—the one in Florida—knowing nobody, and she didn’t like to think where she’d be without them. She certainly wouldn’t be opening her own store along the same stretch of road that boasted some of the most famous addresses in America.

“How many people are you expecting?” Kathryn asked.

“Twenty-five, maybe?”

“We bought four dozen bottles of champagne, so we’ll just make it,” Marcus teased. “And Oliver’s got a surprise.”

Oliver Trenton was Marcus’ . . . Gwendolyn wasn’t sure what to call him. Paramour? Lover? Suitor? Beau? Whatever the word, Oliver was a sweet fellow who made Marcus happy.

Oliver pulled a brushed silver hip flask from inside his jacket, unscrewed the top, and handed it to her. “I call it the Gwentini! Champagne, gin, and lemon juice, which we’ll serve in a martini glass. Ice optional.”

It was bubbly and lemony, and packed a wallop.

“By about nine o’clock, the glass will be optional, too.” Kathryn tilted her head toward Gwendolyn’s back door. “I’m dying to see what you’ve done with the place.”

Gwendolyn led her friends through the back room and ushered them into the salon.

She’d had the walls painted in mottled crème tinged with pink and trimmed in dark turquoise with matching chintz curtains to soften the hard edges, then carpeted the place in deep plum. Her counter was on the right and a full-length tri-fold mirror stood on the left. Overhead, the pale lavender glass light fixtures held a hint of pink—her years at Bullocks Wilshire had taught her plenty about the importance of great lighting.

“Oh, Gwennie!” Kathryn pressed her hands together. “It’s perfect! And the sign? Can we see it?”

“Not until the unveiling. Did you see it when you drove in? Tangerine to match my scarf—OH!!” Gwendolyn’s hand shot to her neck. “My lucky scarf! Where is it?”

Ordinarily, she wasn’t inclined to superstition, but she’d lent that scarf to Edith Head on the day Howard Hughes flew his Spruce Goose, and when Edith returned it to her at the Garden of Allah, she saw Gwendolyn’s portrait and told her it could be worth a small fortune. Gwendolyn had been wearing that same scarf when she learned what the painting fetched at auction, and was wearing it the day she found this store. Marcus had his lucky purple tie and Gwendolyn had her lucky tangerine scarf. She knew it was ridiculous, but the thought of opening without it sent her into a panic.

“We’ll help you look,” Oliver said.

“People will be arriving soon. I need you to set up the bar.” Gwendolyn pointed to her counter and let the boys get about the business of preparing for a crowd whose thirst was likely to be as deep as Sunset Boulevard was long.

“Where did you last see it?” Kathryn asked.

Gwendolyn dismissed the question with a wave. “Never mind. I’m being silly.”

“Nonsense. Surely we don’t need a whole hour to find a scarf.”

Gwendolyn followed Kathryn into the spacious back room, which could easily accommodate the several dressmakers she’d need if the couture side of her business succeeded the way she hoped. She’d enjoyed her time at Bullocks Wilshire, but as she looked at her dress forms, her worktable, her boxes of notions and bolts of material, she knew she could never go back.

The fleck of doubt she’d felt on the roof caught in her throat again when Kathryn grabbed her hands.

“Gwennie?” Kathryn fixed her with a penetrating look she usually saved for her Hollywood Reporter interviews with recalcitrant movie stars with secrets they’d rather not share. “I want to tell you how proud I am of you before things get crazy.”

Gwendolyn blinked away unexpected tears. “You mean ‘drunk’?”

“You came here with nothing but moxie and talent—”

“You mean my acting talent?”

They giggled.

“Your lack of acting talent made room for your real one.” Kathryn squeezed her hands. “And now you’re about to open your own store! On the Sunset Strip! And it’s gorgeous! I couldn’t be more thrilled for you.”

Marcus appeared in the doorway, waving her silk scarf. “We found this under your counter.”

“Thank you!” Gwendolyn wound it around her neck, draping the ends on either side of her right shoulder.

“So these Gwentinis you mentioned,” Gwendolyn said, “when do I get to taste one?”

* * *

Gwendolyn and Kathryn, Marcus and Oliver had scarcely finished their first cocktail when Gwendolyn’s neighbor Bertie Kreuger burst through the door. Bertie was not the type to doll herself up, so Gwendolyn was touched to see she’d put some effort into taming her unruly hair with a dozen pins clustered around the back of her head. She’d even squeezed into a pair of patent leather mules. For someone who spent the day on her feet, Gwendolyn knew what a sacrifice this was.

Marcus’ sister, Doris, trailed behind Bertie and held the door for Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, who were back in town to pen a remake of Ernst Lubitch’s The Shop Around the Corner for MGM. Gwendolyn had missed chatting with Frances and Albert around the Garden, and she was pleased to see them.

More people showed up: neighbors and their boyfriends; her boss from Bullocks, even Chuck the bartender from her long-gone days as the Cocoanut Grove’s cigarette girl. Before she knew it, her store was crowded with smiling faces and fizzy laughter, but the special guest she’d been hoping for failed to show.

Kathryn nudged her. “Expecting someone else?”

“Huh?”

“You keep looking at the door.”

“No, no,” Gwendolyn said. “I was just hoping—never mind.” She clapped her hands several times. “Outside! Outside!” She herded everyone toward the sidewalk and arranged them in a semi-circle around her front door.

“Wait! I don’t want to miss this bit!”

Dorothy Parker was tottering up Sunset from the direction of the Chateau Marmont, waving a white lace handkerchief. She was back in Hollywood to adapt Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windemere’s Fan for Twentieth Century-Fox. Gwendolyn thought Dottie was brave to take on Wilde, but if anybody could pull it off, Dottie could.

Oliver slipped a Gwentini into Dottie’s hand as Gwendolyn cast around one more time. The face she wanted most to see was still absent.

“Welcome, everybody! This is a big day for me—” an outburst of cheering forced her to pause “—and whether this store of mine is a resounding success or an embarrassing floperoo, I want you to know that your being here means the world to me.”

To raucous applause, she yanked on the green ribbon she’d sewn to the tangerine cotton covering her sign. Cecil B. DeMille himself couldn’t have orchestrated a more picturesque puff of wind to billow beneath the curtain and send it fluttering to the sidewalk.

CHEZ GWENDOLYN
Modiste & Couturier
Fashion for All Occasions

She’d been thinking about this sign for so long that to see it like this was overwhelming.

The evening flew by in a montage of roaring laughter, air kisses, and increasingly slurry toasts. A woolly haze of contentment blurred Gwendolyn’s edges until Marcus gripped her elbow and directed his eyes toward the front of the store. The trim figure in a suit of midnight blue was barely over five feet tall, and yet seemed to fill the doorway like a bulldozer.

Marcus slid two fresh Gwentinis into her hands and she elbowed her way through the crowd toward Edith Head.

Gwendolyn didn’t need approval from one of Hollywood’s leading costume designers, or her blessing, but it sure went a long way towards dissolving Gwendolyn’s qualms that she might have blown all her dough on an unfeasible pipe dream.

Gwendolyn and Edith pressed cheeks.

“My dear!” Edith murmured into her cocktail, “I’m so frightfully impressed.”

“Thank you. I’m glad you could make it.”

“Sorry to be so late. I got caught up with William Travilla over at Warner’s. They’ve got him designing ballet costumes for an Errol Flynn/Ida Lupino picture.” Edith read Gwendolyn’s thoughts. “I know! So incongruous! He was having trouble with the designs and sent me an SOS this afternoon. That’s when we heard about Leilah.”

“What about Leilah?”

To her left, Gwendolyn smelled Kathryn’s gardenia perfume. The animated chatter around them broke off and everyone turned to look at Edith. Leilah O’Roarke was the wife of the head of security at Warners, but more importantly, she ran a trio of swanky brothels up in the Hollywood Hills.

Edith knocked back the rest of her Gwentini. “She’s been arrested! For pandering!”

The crowd gave a collective gasp. Marcus’ sister piped up. “What’s pandering?”

“It’s the legal term the police use when they arrest prostitutes, pimps, madams, and owners of bordellos.”

“So it’s finally caught up with her?” someone said wistfully.

“Big deal,” somebody else put in. “With her connections, she’ll be out before we stagger home from this shindig.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Edith replied. “She was arrested at dawn this morning and she’s still behind bars. That means even her husband’s LAPD connections haven’t been able to spring her. Everyone at Warners is speculating that they must really have the goods.”

Kathryn looked at Gwendolyn out the corner of her eye. “Maybe pandering is just a cover.”

What most people didn’t know—Edith Head included—was that Leilah O’Roarke and her husband were also behind a shady land grab around the newly minted mobster-ruled playground, Las Vegas. Gwendolyn’s ex-boyfriend discovered the scheme and became so frightened that he ran away to Mexico. Which was all very well for Linc, but not so reassuring for anyone who had done business with Leilah the way Gwendolyn had—legitimate and otherwise.

“So what do you think?” Gwendolyn asked.

Edith blinked knowingly. “I think that anyone with even so much as a passing acquaintance with Leilah O’Roarke needs to watch out. If she goes down, you can be sure she’ll take as many chumps as she can with her.”

~oOo~

Twisted Boulevard is due for release November 2016

~oOo~

AND IN OTHER NEWS…

Los Angeles Public Library Local Author Spotlight on Martin Turnbull

As I mentioned at the top of this post, I was recently featured in the Local Author Spotlight series run by the Los Angeles Public Library, in which they focus on L.A.-based authors. You can read the interview HERE.

~oOo~

A sampling of recent reviews for Martin Turnbull’s
Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels:

Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels by Martin Turnbull

The Garden on Sunset: “My intention was to order a true history of the Garden of Allah hotel. Since there was no other new book to read I went forward, fully intending to take up some of my daily reading time, then give the book away. I was blown away! My reaction was completely unexpected. This book was great; kept me glued to the pages. After writing this review I’m going to see what else Martin Turnbull has to offer. If, like me, you like reading about old Hollywood and you’re not much of a fiction fan, I highly recommend you try this book anyway. I’m not a convert to fiction, but am to Martin Turnbull.”

Citizen Hollywood:Very well written and very hard to put down. I have been buying this series one after the other. Reading from cover to cover and really enjoying the feel of them all. I live 50 miles from Hollywood and am like the rest of the world fascinated with it. This is even better. These are the stars I seen in movies growing up in black and white, when glamour did not need color.”

Reds in the Beds:I’m no slouch when it comes to Hollywood history and Mr. Turnbull has an uncanny knack for intertwining his three fictional leads with all the characters and red-letter and events of old Hollywood. And they always seem to dovetail flawlessly. The man has done his homework.”

~oOo~

www.MartinTurnbull.com

For tons of photos and information about the places and people mentioned
in the Garden of Allah novels, visit Martin Turnbull on Facebook
and/or go to his Photo Blog on his website.

~oOo~

http://martinturnbull.us5.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=62c973885c7e930d8b9a754aa&id=e5f41676a2

~oOo~

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Dancing the Mambo Italiano at the Garden of Allah…and other news

Almost exactly this time last year, I launched the Spanish versions of my first two novels – The Garden on Sunset aka El Jardin en Sunset –and– The Trouble with Scarlett aka El Problema con Scarlett. I’m very pleased to announce that The Garden on Sunset is now available in Italian, too!

Translator Stefania Canavese approached me a few months ago, saying that she’d discovered my book and would love the opportunity to translate it into Italian. She willingly agreed to my request that she translate the first chapter so that I could give it to a couple of my Italian-speaking friends. They both said Stefania had done a first-rate job. So I handed over custody of Marcus, Kathryn, and Gwendolyn and let her loose in the Garden. And here is the result:

IL GIARDINO SUL SUNSET (The Garden on Sunset)

IL GIARDINO SUL SUNSET (The Garden on Sunset)

The ebook is available through all these channels:

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

Amazon (Italy)

Mondadori store (Italy)

La Feltrinelli (Italy)

Buecher.de (Germany)

Weltbild (Switzerland)

iTunes

Barnes & Noble Nook

Kobo

Scribd

. . . and in other news . . .

HOLLYWOOD’S GARDEN OF ALLAH NOVELS SCREEN OPTION
I’ve been asked a few times about the current status of the screen option that was taken out by film producer, Tabrez Noorani, so I thought I’d let you all know that Tabrez (who is now making his directorial debut with Love, Sonia starring Freida Pinto) has extended our original 18-month agreement for another 18 months. He’s still very keen to shepherd this project to the screen, but this process takes an inordinately long stretch of time. Watch this space for further development.

HOLLYWOOD’S GARDEN OF ALLAH NOVELS – BOOK #6
I’ve also been asked about the next Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novel. Yes, there will be a 6th book (and a 7th, 8th, and 9th book, taking us up to the August 1959 closing of the Garden of Allah Hotel.)

Progress is coming along nicely. I’m at the phase that I call “The EEK! This is 30,000 words too long! Where are my monstrously large pruning clippers? Stage.” Even though I’ve been through this  five times before, it’s still hard to cut words/sentences/paragraphs/chapters that seemed precious and necessary through the first four drafts. I have a title in mind, and the sort of cover I want, but I’m not ready to share them with you…yet…but that’s not too far away!

~~oOo~~

www.MartinTurnbull.com

Hollywood’s Garden of Allah Novels on Facebook

Martin Turnbull’s official Amazon author page

~~oOo~~

Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels:

  • Book 1 – “The Garden on Sunset”
  • Book 2 – “The Trouble with Scarlett”
  • Book 3 – “Citizen Hollywood”
  • Book 4 – “Searchlights and Shadows”
  • Book 5 – “Reds in the Beds”

~~oOo~~

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels by Martin Turnbull~~oOo~~

~~oOo~~

 

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Pillow talk with “Reds in the Beds” – and an audio book tip!

Recently, I received an email from a lovely woman in Connecticut who started reading my books the old-school way: via paperback. Then she was given a Kindle for Christmas, so she migrated to the ebooks. And then she got a new job, which required a much longer commute, which cut into what used to be her reading time. She wrote to say how pleased she was that I made my novels available on audio book because now she soaks them up while driving the country roads of New England.

She told me that the audio format is now her favorite way to “read” my books because it feels like a more intimate experience. I’d never thought about that before, so I asked her why. She replied saying that it feels like she’s in the car with a good pal who is telling her about what’s been happening with some mutual friends: Marcus, Kathryn, and Gwendolyn. She said it’s almost like pillow talk because she gets to “hear first hand about their lives and loves and ups and downs.”

I thought it was an ironic way to put it – “pillow talk” – considering the name of my latest audio release is book 5 in the series: Reds in the Beds.

"Reds in the Beds" by Martin Turnbull - audiobook cover

I am very pleased and excited to announce the release of the audio book version of book 5 in the “Hollywood’s Garden of Allah” series: Reds in the Beds.

My narrator – Lance Roger Axt – has done a terrific job of bringing post-war Hollywood to life as we follow Marcus, Kathryn and Gwendolyn through the darkly uncertain times of a Hollywood besieged by the boogieman-du-jour, the Red Scare.

The Reds in the Beds audio book is available through:

~~~oOo~~~

Garden on Sunset Audiobook cover SMALLAnd for people who are audio book fans, I have a handy little hint that I’ve just become aware of. Tech blogger Dave Taylor recently used my first book – The Garden on Sunset – to illustrate how listeners can save and share their favorite passages from the audio books they’re listening to. He explains how to do it on his post:
Share fave passages from Audible.com audio books

~~~oOo~~~

“Reds in the Beds” by Martin Turnbull

Hollywood history is more than just colorful. It’s dripping with red.

As World War II ends, a new boogieman emerges: the Red Menace. When a scandal accuses Tinseltown of being riddled with Communists, MGM writing department head Marcus Adler needs to keep his reputation beyond reproach. Unfortunately in Hollywood, nobody’s past is spotless.

While the House un-American Activities Committee prepares to grill the brightest stars in town, gossip columnist Kathryn Massey is doing everything she can to shed the FBI informer mantle she carried during the war. Desperate to avoid tangling with a notorious mobster, Massey may have to take on J. Edgar Hoover himself to secure her freedom.

The war killed Gwendolyn Brick’s dream of opening her own store, but valuable secrets can creep into the strangest of places. From behind the perfume counter at Bullocks Wilshire, Brick makes a shocking discovery that could revive her dream and change multiple lives for good.

In postwar Hollywood, there are reds in the beds, the sharks are circling, and it’s feeding time.

~~~oOo~~~

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels by Martin Turnbull~~~oOo~~~

Grab your free books now (limited time offer)~~~oOo~~~

www.MartinTurnbull.com

Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels by Martin Turnbull, on Facebook

Martin Turnbull’s audio books on Audible.com

~~~oOo~~~

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Announcing the release of Book Five of Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels: “REDS IN THE BEDS”

"Reds in the Beds" - book 5 - Martin Turnbull

I am very happy to announce that my new novel

“REDS IN THE BEDS”

is now available!

~oOo~

The action picks up a couple of months after the end of WWII, on November 2nd, 1945 at the closing of an iconic wartime institution for Angelenos and servicemen passing through LA: the Hollywood Canteen. What nobody can foresee is that instead of settling back into civilian life, Hollywood is soon caught up in battle with a new demon: the rise of anti-Communism.

It wasn’t until I was almost finished writing my first draft of Reds in the Beds that I became aware of the movie Trumbo (2015) starring Bryan Cranston. Dalton Trumbo wasTrumbo_(2015_film)_poster a highly respected and highly paid screenwriter at MGM when the House un-American Activities Committee descended on Hollywood. One of my protagonists, Marcus Adler, works at MGM and while Trumbo isn’t a character in the book, he is mentioned a number of times. In a variety of ways, Trumbo became the face of the Hollywood blacklist who struggled for years to regain his career after serving 11 months in a Kentucky penitentiary. How could I not mention him? Especially as the Hollywood blacklist came about largely at the hands of the boss of another of my characters, Kathryn Massey.

The fact that this movie surfaced while I was writing about the same events during the same period got me wondering about how Trumbo’s story and the lessons learned (or not learned) surrounding the events of the Hollywood blacklist still resonate. In reality, there were members of the Communist Party in Hollywood, but their numbers and the influence they brought to bear on the content of Hollywood movies was a meager fraction of the picture the HUAC was intent on painting. It’s about how public perception is everything and once that mud has been slung, it’s very hard to wash clean away. And that principle is as true today as it was back then.

~oOo~

“Reds in the Beds” by Martin Turnbull

Hollywood history is more than just colorful. It’s dripping with red.

As World War II ends, a new boogieman emerges: the Red Menace. When a scandal accuses Tinseltown of being riddled with Communists, MGM writing department head Marcus Adler needs to keep his reputation beyond reproach. Unfortunately in Hollywood, nobody’s past is spotless.

While the House un-American Activities Committee prepares to grill the brightest stars in town, gossip columnist Kathryn Massey is doing everything she can to shed the FBI informer mantle she carried during the war. Desperate to avoid tangling with a notorious mobster, Massey may have to take on J. Edgar Hoover himself to secure her freedom.

The war killed Gwendolyn Brick’s dream of opening her own store, but valuable secrets can creep into the strangest of places. From behind the perfume counter at Bullocks Wilshire, Brick makes a shocking discovery that could revive her dream and change multiple lives for good.

In postwar Hollywood, there are reds in the beds, the sharks are circling, and it’s feeding time.

~oOo~

The first chapter is available to read on my website: CHAPTER ONE

~oOo~

Reds in the Beds is available in all formats.

Martin Turnbull with "Reds in the Beds" - January 2016

Martin Turnbull with “Reds in the Beds” – January 2016

Amazon (US) paperback

Amazon (US) Kindle ebook

Amazon (UK) paperback

Amazon (UK) Kindle ebook

Amazon (Australia) Kindle ebook

Barnes & Noble Nook ebook

Barnes & Noble paperback

Apple iBook ebook

Kobo ebook

Book Depository paperback (free worldwide shipping)

For more information see the Reds in the Beds page of my website.

~oOo~

And when you have read it (assuming, of course, that you enjoyed it), if you have the chance and inclination, I’d really appreciate it if you could leave a review on whichever website you bought it. Rate it as many stars as you see fit, and give your honest opinion. Just a couple of lines will do! The more reviews a book has, the higher its profile rises. Thanks!

~oOo~

Have you read Book One yet?

THE GARDEN ON SUNSET
is currently available for FREE in ebook formats.

"The Garden on Sunset" by Martin Turnbull

More information can be found on my website.

~oOo~

If you enjoy seeing old photos of Hollywood and Los Angeles, and of the people and personalities that populated it, follow me on Facebook: gardenofallahnovels

~oOo~

And a personal note to everyone who has read my previous Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels and took the time to tell me how much they enjoyed them, I’d like to take this opportunity to send out a great big

THANK YOU!

Your support has been wonderfully encouraging.

All the best,

Martin Turnbull

~oOo~

The Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels:

  • Book 1 – The Garden on Sunset
  • Book 2 – The Trouble with Scarlett
  • Book 3 – Citizen Hollywood
  • Book 4 – Searchlights and Shadows
  • Book 5 – Reds in the Beds

~oOo~

~oOo~

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels by Martin Turnbull

~oOo~

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Limited time offer: The first two books in the “Hollywood’s Garden of Allah Novels” are currently being offered for free

Grab your free books now (limited time offer)In the lead up to the January 2016 release of the fifth book in my “Hollywood’s Garden of Allah Novels” series – REDS IN THE BEDS – I’ve decided to offer the first two books in the series for FREE. (ebook format only.)

~oOo~

Book 1: The Garden on Sunset
Right before talking pictures slug Tinsel Town in the jaw, a luminous silent screen star converts her private estate into the Garden of Allah Hotel. The lush grounds soon become a haven for Hollywood hopefuls to meet, drink, and revel through the night. George Cukor is in the pool, Tallulah Bankhead is at the bar, and Scott Fitzgerald is sneaking off to a bungalow with Sheilah Graham while Madame Alla Nazimova keeps watch behind her lace curtains. But the real story of the Garden of Allah begins with its first few residents, three kids on the brink of something big. They learn that nobody gets a free pass in Hollywood, but a room at the Garden on Sunset can get your foot in the door.

Book 2: The Trouble with Scarlett
It’s 1936 – Gone with the Wind is released by first-time author Margaret Mitchell and becomes an international sensation. Everyone in Hollywood knows that Civil War pictures don’t make a dime but renegade movie producer David O. Selznick snaps up the movie rights and suddenly the whole country is obsessed with answering just one question: Who will win the role of Scarlett O’Hara?

~oOo~

This is a LIMITED TIME promo I’m running, so if you’ve been tempted to give my books a go, act now! Procrastination is not recommended!

To take advantage of this offer, click HERE.

~oOo~

"Reds in the Beds" - book 5 - Martin TurnbullDue for release: January 2016

~oOo~

www.MartinTurnbull.com

For tons of photos and information about the places and people mentioned in the Garden of Allah novels, visit Martin Turnbull on Facebook.

~oOo~

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels by Martin Turnbull~oOo~

 

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Golden-era Hollywood stars abound at Eleanor Powell’s Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, 1984

When I started writing my Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels, it was just me and my laptop and my big idea to write a series of books about living, loving, and working in Hollywood during its golden era. I really gave no thought to where this endeavor might lead, or who it might lead me to. But over the past four years, I’ve had some experiences and met some people I never thought I’d come across in a million years.

Recently, I was approached by a woman who found a stack of photos among her late brother’s effects, but wasn’t sure what to do with them. She scanned a couple and emailed them to me. It looked like a ceremony for a Hollywood Walk of Fame dedication for Eleanor Powell. Not knowing what else to do with them, she sent me the whole lot.

There were around 20 photos in all, and I found that it was indeed the posthumous dedication for Eleanor Powell that took place on Vine Street, Hollywood on February 15th, 1984. Back then, some of the stars from the golden era were still with us, and many of them made an appearance.

But then there was some photos of a guy in his late 30s with his wife and son. I remembered that when Eleanor Powell married Glenn Ford, they had a son, Peter, who went on to write a biography of his father. So I did a bit of Googlizing, found he had a website, and wrote to him explaining I had these photos, and asked if he was interested in having them.

You know what it’s like when you send these messages into the ether–you never know if it’s received, or read, or strikes a chord worthy of a reply. Much to my surprise and delight, he wrote back immediately. He said that ceremony back in 1984 was a big day for him and his family but surprisingly they had no keepsakes! He said that they would love to have these photos.

So sometime over the next month, we’re getting together so that I can give him this packet of photographs as I felt they really belong with them. Meanwhile, I thought I’d scan the more interesting ones and posted here for people to enjoy.

~~oOo~~

You can read more about Peter Ford’s remarkable childhood and subsequent life HERE.

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Debbie Reynolds speaking at Eleanor Powell’s Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, with Gene Kelly in the background:

Debbie Reynolds speaking at Eleanor Powell's Walk of Fame ceremony 15FEB1984Debbie Reynolds 15FEB1984Gene Kelly:

Gene Kelly 15FEB1984 -1 Gene Kelly 15FEB1984 -2Jimmy Stewart at Eleanor Powell’s Walk of Fame ceremony, with Peter Ford, the son of Eleanor Powell and Glenn Ford, with his family on the right:

Jimmy Stewart at Eleanor Powell's Walk of Fame ceremony 15FEB1984Eleanor Powell and Glenn Ford's son, Peter and family 15FEB1984Jane Withers at Eleanor Powell’s Walk of Fame ceremony:

Jane Withers 15FEB1984 -2 Jane Withers 15FEB1984 Jane Withers with Eleanor Powell pillow 15FEB1984Jane Withers with Jeff Parker:

Jeffrey Palmer and Jane Withers 15FEB1984Kathryn Grayson at Eleanor Powell’s Walk of Fame ceremony:

Kathryn Grayson 15FEB1984Gene Nelson, Kathryn Grayson, James Stewart, and Eleanor Powell’s friend Eleanor Debus:

Gene Nelson, Kathryn Grayson, James Stewart, Eleanor Debus - 15FEB1984Eleanor Powell’s son Peter Ford, with his son, Jeff Parker, and Rip Taylor at the Vine Street Brown Derby restaurant:

Eleanor Powell's son Peter Ford, with Jeffrey Palmer, Rip Torn - 15FEB1984Eleanor Powell Walk of Fame dedication ceremony:

Eleanor Powell Walk of Fame dedication ceremony 15FEB1984Virginia O’Brien at Eleanor Powell Walk of Fame dedication ceremony:

Virginia O'Brien 15FEB1984Fayard Nicholas from the amazing Nicholas Brothers tap dance act at Eleanor Powell Walk of Fame dedication ceremony:

Nicholas Brother 15FEB1984The crowd gathers outside the Merv Griffin Theatre at 1555 Vine Street Theater, Hollywood for the dedication ceremony for Eleanor Powell’s Hollywood Walk of Fame:

Eleanor Powell Walk of Fame dedication ceremony in front of the Merv Griffin Theater 15FEB1984

~oOo~

www.MartinTurnbull.com

For tons of photos and information about the places and people mentioned in the Garden of Allah novels, visit Martin Turnbull on Facebook.

~oOo~

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels by Martin Turnbull~oOo~

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Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels – book 5 cover, blurb and first chapter

I am now ready (and excited!) to reveal details of the next book in my Hollywood’s Garden of Allah novels.

Book 5 picks up a couple of months after the end of WWII. With Hitler and his Nazis finally vanquished, America was settling into peacetime when the specter of a whole new enemy appeared: the Communist threat. And fast on its heels rose the HUAC – House un-American Activities Committee – wielding its self-appointed power like a viking sword.

Here is the cover:

"Reds in the Beds" - book 5 - Martin Turnbull

I focused on the microphones because we’re now in the late 1940s when radio was still king. The most powerful microphones in the country were the ones in Hollywood — everyone listened to what Hollywood had to say, and that’s the way Hollywood liked it. But then along came the House un-American Activities Committee who turned their microphones against them. Hollywood was left scrambling to defend itself.

To give you a better idea of what to expect, here is the book’s description:

REDS IN THE BEDS

Book 5 in the Garden of Allah novels

by Martin Turnbull

~oOo~

Hollywood history is more than just colorful. It’s dripping with red.

As World War II ends, a new boogieman emerges: the Red Menace. When a scandal accuses Tinseltown of being riddled with Communists, MGM writing department head Marcus Adler needs to keep his reputation beyond reproach. Unfortunately in Hollywood, nobody’s past is spotless.

While the House un-American Activities Committee prepares to grill the brightest stars in town, gossip columnist Kathryn Massey is doing everything she can to shed the FBI informer mantle she carried during the war. Desperate to avoid tangling with a notorious mobster, Massey may have to take on J. Edgar Hoover himself to secure her freedom.

The war killed Gwendolyn Brick’s dream of opening her own store, but valuable secrets can creep into the strangest of places. From behind the perfume counter at Bullocks Wilshire, Brick makes a shocking discovery that could revive her dream and change multiple lives for good.

In postwar Hollywood, there are reds in the beds, the sharks are circling, and it’s feeding time.

Reds in the Beds is the fifth installment in the Hollywood’s Garden of Allah saga, a series of historical novels set in Hollywood’s heyday. If you like authentic and richly-detailed history, compelling and memorable characters, and seeing fiction and history seamlessly woven together, then you’ll love Martin Turnbull’s authentic portrayal of the City of Angels.

Flip through the pages to see Hollywood’s history come to life before your eyes.

~oOo~

And here now is the first chapter:

CHAPTER 1

Kathryn Massey unclenched her fists and wiped the clamminess from her palms as best she could with a pitifully inadequate lace handkerchief. She hadn’t expected to be this nervous—it was hardly the first time she’d appeared on the radio—but she’d never shouldered the duties of host by herself. With only a few minutes before showtime, she could feel sweat prickling her scalp, so she cast about the Hollywood Canteen for distraction.

She found it in the indomitable form of Bette Davis shouldering through the crowd like General MacArthur storming the Pacific. First to the sandwich table, then the coffee station, where she stopped by a cluster of tuxedoed Warner Bros. executives before she pressed her way through a jungle of servicemen toward Kathryn, shaking hands as she went.

Bette’s famously large eyes bulged when she broke free of the throng. “Heavens!” she exclaimed, accepting Kathryn’s hand to help her climb onto the edge of the stage. “What I wouldn’t give for a bourbon!”

“What else did you expect on closing night?” Kathryn glanced over at Harry James and his orchestra, who’d launched into “Waitin’ for the Train to Come In.” It was her cue that she’d be up next. She wiped her hands again on the limp handkerchief.

Bette shrugged. “I can scarcely believe it’s all coming to an end.” She examined Kathryn’s face. “Are you as nervous as you look?”

For over two years now, Kathryn had appeared on the Kraft Music Hall radio show as the resident Hollywood gossip columnist, and had proved that she could match Bing Crosby’s impromptu banter quip for quip. A couple of weeks ago, NBC approached her with an idea for a special broadcast from the Hollywood Canteen on its closing night. “Bing’s going to be back East promoting Duffy’s Tavern,” they said, “so we want you to host it.”

Kathryn figured if she could pull this off, who knows what it might lead to. Her own show? She’d barely been able to contain her excitement, but now the dread that she might screw it up was pressing on her shoulders.

As the Harry James orchestra plowed into its final sixteen bars, Bette and Kathryn positioned themselves in front of the chrome microphone with “NBC” painted in red along the base. A technician at his console held up his right hand. He folded his fingers one by one until he was down to his thumb. Kathryn took a deep breath and leaned into the mike.

“A big hello to all our radio listeners across these United States. My name is Kathryn Massey, and I am thrilled to welcome you to a very special edition of Kraft Music Hall.” While Harry James played the show’s jaunty theme music, the navy blue and army green uniforms erupted into a roar. “We are broadcasting to you live from the world-famous Hollywood Canteen, which closes its doors tonight.

“We have a number of special guests, and I’ll be welcoming them to the stage very soon. But first, I want to thank and congratulate the woman without whom the Hollywood Canteen would never have become such a vital epicenter of the war effort here.” Kathryn raised her arms. “Come on, fellas, help me give the loudest cheer you can muster to the tireless Miss Bette Davis!”

This time, the crowd—not just the servicemen, but the dance hostesses, kitchen staff, and all the volunteers—let loose with a foot-stomping ovation so thunderous that the wagon-wheel chandeliers started to sway.

“Thank you, everybody!” Bette shouted into the mike. “Really, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, it’s been my greatest pleasure and deepest honor to serve our brave boys.” She wrapped her arm around Kathryn’s waist. “It’s the least we could do.”

As the applause subsided, Kathryn showed the crowd a piece of cardboard. “Bette, I want you to read the statistics printed on this card to show the people at home what an undertaking this has been.”

Bette took the card and scanned the figures. “The Hollywood Canteen has been open three years, one month, and twenty-eight days, during which time we have fed nearly four million servicemen, poured nine million cups of coffee . . .”

As Bette made her way down the list, Kathryn looked across the hundreds of faces, every last one of them thrilled to make it into what had become a Los Angeles institution during the war. But then the one brooding face among a thousand buoyant ones caught her eye. She swallowed hard.

Halfway through the war, Kathryn had been recruited by the FBI. It was more like conscription than recruitment, really, leaving her little option but to spy on her neighbors, friends, and co-workers. For Kathryn Massey, the face of the FBI was Nelson Hoyt, who stood in the crowd smiling that unctuous smile of his. She hadn’t seen it since a particularly nasty clash outside the NBC studios on the day Japan surrendered. But here he was, popping up again like a groundhog with distemper.

Kathryn felt Bette’s fingernails jab into her waist. Bette’s eyes flared. For God’s sake, say something!

“Thank you, Bette,” Kathryn burst out. “Four million thank-yous, one for each of the servicemen who have passed through these doors.” Her first guest joined them on stage. “Next up, I am excited to welcome one of America’s favorite vocalists, here to treat us with a slice of ‘Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy.’ Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Miss Dinah Shore!”

* * *

A dry Santa Ana wind blew along Cahuenga Boulevard as Kathryn lit up a Chesterfield and leaned against the Canteen’s northern wall. Apart from that one little glitch near the top of the show, everything had gone exceptionally well, but she hadn’t approached the NBC brass yet. She needed a cigarette first.

“I believe congratulations are in order.”

Ugh. Kathryn fired off her best stink-eye. “I think the show went very well.”

“I’m talking about your recent nuptials.”

“I hoped I’d seen the last of you.”

“I take it your mother was happy to learn you’d finally settled down?”

My mother? The streetlamp behind Hoyt’s left shoulder threw his face into shadow, obscuring his smile. But Kathryn could tell from his tone that it was more of a smirk. “Of course,” she lied.

“Married life is treating you well?”

“It is.” At least that much was true. Kathryn and her husband had found a way to make their marriage work—a plan that chiefly entailed separate villas at the Garden of Allah. She started for the Canteen’s entrance, but he stopped her with a simple statement.

“I have something I need to ask you.”

When the FBI says it has a question, a girl had better stop. Kathryn turned her head toward him.

“Ring Lardner Junior. How well do you know him?”

The non sequitur propelled Kathryn to face Hoyt more squarely. “The screenwriter?” When he nodded and crossed his arms, she knew she had to give him some sort of answer. Intuition told her to downplay any contact she’d had with him. “He and Garson Kanin holed themselves up with Katharine Hepburn in the villa next to mine to bash out the screenplay for Woman of the Year. Outside of that, I’ve seen him at parties here and there.”

“What about Lewis Milestone?”

The sudden switch piqued Kathryn’s curiosity. “He directed The North Star, which Lillian Hellman wrote. She’s one of my neighbors. I went to the premiere at the Carthay Circle, and Lillian introduced us. He and I had such a long chat that I turned it into an interview, mostly about the war movies they—”

“I read the interview.”

She threw her hands up, wishing now she’d made her getaway. “Then why even ask me?”

“One more, and I’ll let you go back inside.” Passing headlights caught him full in the face. He smiled again, this time not nearly so smugly, and it reminded her that he was halfway decently attractive. For an FBI fink. She made a go-ahead-ask-your-damned-question gesture.

“Leilah O’Roarke.”

Kathryn tried to cover her surprise with a cough, but knew the guy was too shrewd to be fooled. He would be aware that Leilah’s husband headed up security at Warners, but did he also know she ran a trio of high-class brothels? Or that her best friend, Gwendolyn Brick, had sold Leilah black-market nylon stockings during the war?

“She shops regularly at Bullocks Wilshire, where my ex-roommate works. Gwendolyn’s mentioned her a few times.”

Hoyt nodded slowly.

“What do these people have in common?” Kathryn ventured.

“Who said they had anything in common?”

Kathryn stubbed out her cigarette into the gravel. “Suit yourself, Mister Mysterious.” She headed for the Canteen’s front door and didn’t even break her stride when he called out,

“See you around . . . Mrs. Adler.”

* * *

For a couple of hours, Kathryn worked the donut table with Martha Raye and Billie Burke until there was nothing left to hand out, and then accepted a series of invitations to dance. Even though she wasn’t officially a hostess, she figured it was the final night, so she said yes to every soldier, sailor, marine, and pilot who asked her.

It was one o’clock in the morning when she looked around for Bette to say goodbye. The kitchen supervisor guessed that Bette was hiding in the office. “But knock gently, she’s probably asleep.”

Kathryn pushed open the office door and peeked inside. Bette was sitting on the ratty sofa with her shoes kicked off, resting her feet on a stack of city directories. One hand held a half-filled tumbler of something Kathryn guessed was stronger than grape Kool-Aid.

“Come in if you’ve got a light,” Bette told her.

“Since when is Bette Davis without means to light a cigarette?” Kathryn asked.

“Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be caught dead without matches,” Bette said, “but this ain’t no ordinary night.” She held out her cigarette while Kathryn pulled a book of Mocambo matches from her purse.

Kathryn lit it, then one for herself, and joined Bette on the sofa. “You going to miss all this?”

“It’s been a hell of a lot of work,” Bette admitted, “but so damned fulfilling in ways I never imagined when we first started.”

“You should be very proud,” Kathryn said. “Tonight went off without a hitch.”

“It did,” Bette said, “except for that moment at the top of the broadcast. Rule number one: No dead air.”

“Don’t remind me!” Kathryn helped herself to a slug of Bette’s tumbler. Whiskey. Expensive.

“So who was he? The handsome puss with the chin and the smirk. Don’t tell me you’ve taken a lover already. You’ve only been married three months. That’s the last thing I need to hear—I’m getting hitched soon.”

Kathryn had put off spilling the truth. She’d told Humphrey Bogart, but that had backfired and she found herself mired even more deeply with the Bureau. Still, Kathryn needed to do something, and Bette Davis knew a thing or two about survival.

“Remember that night you sang on Kraft Music Hall? We were in my dressing room when the New York Times arrived for an interview.”

“Sure I do.”

Kathryn gulped another belt of Bette’s whiskey. “The Times thing was just a cover. He’s actually with the FBI.”

“NO!” Kathryn had never suspected Bette Davis was so shockable. “What did he want?”

“To recruit me as an informer.”

“NO!”

“The Bureau harbored strong suspicions that Bogie was a Commie.”

Bette got up from the sofa and headed for one of the filing cabinets, where she pulled out a half-empty bottle. “Don’t stop now.”

“Long story short: I told Bogie, and we hatched a plan. We nearly got away with it, but not quite. All I managed to do was piss off the Bureau, who then threatened to short-circuit my career by spreading a rumor that I’m a lesbian unless I did what they wanted.”

“Bastards! Wait—is that why you got married so suddenly? And your husband, the screenwriter, is he your actual husband, if you catch my meaning?”

Kathryn could feel her face reddening. This was the first time she’d alluded to her sham marriage to someone outside the Garden of Allah. It made her feel naked.

Bette dropped back onto the sofa and held her refilled tumbler out for Kathryn. “I’ve long suspected that you’re far more interesting than you appeared. I’m glad to know I was right.” She let out a belch, then paused for a moment before she said, “You know how all my Canteen volunteers were ID’d and fingerprinted by the FBI?”

“You said it was just a formality.”

“Yeah, well, about a year ago I found out that they had this place under surveillance.”

“Why?”

“In their eyes, my policy of allowing anyone of any race to dance with whomever they wished was a breeding ground for Communism. They convinced themselves that the Commies sent party members in here to stir up trouble. They expected a race riot every night!”

Kathryn could feel the soothing effects of Bette’s high-priced booze calm her Nelson-Hoyt jitters. “That’s absurd.”

“Try and tell them that. They now suspect me of being a Communist. Or at least a sympathizer. Does that make me a pinko? I can never keep that baloney straight. It’s such a relief that we’ve made it to the end without so much as a flicker of a race riot.”

Kathryn got to her feet. It was getting close to two a.m. and she was beat. “I’m glad your tango with the FBI has come to an end,” she told Bette. “I fear mine is only halfway through.”

Bette alighted from the sofa and took Kathryn’s hands in hers. “You can’t let them do this. Didn’t we just fight a world war to ensure we keep our First Amendment rights? Otherwise, what the hell was the last three and a half years for? We need to come up with a way to get them off your back.”

Kathryn felt tears sheen her eyes. It had never occurred to her that someone like Bette Davis would leap to her defense. Bette had a lot to lose if the FBI decided to take her down. “But what can we do?”

“I haven’t the foggiest idea,” Bette said, squeezing Kathryn’s hands. “Tell you what. Bill and I are getting married at the end of the month. Once we’re back from the honeymoon, let’s get together. I’ll make sure the maître d’ at Chasen’s gives us a quiet corner booth. Surely we can come up with something, because if a couple of smart broads like us can’t do it, then this whole damn country is in far worse trouble than either of us realized.”

~oOo~

Reds in the Beds is due for release January 2016

~oOo~

www.MartinTurnbull.com

For tons of photos and information about the places and people mentioned in the Garden of Allah novels, visit Martin Turnbull on Facebook.

~oOo~

Recent reviews:

“Martin Turnbull has succeeded in doing what would seem to be the impossible – transporting readers to the Golden Age of Hollywood with a story that has its main characters mixing and mingling with the people and at the places all classic movie-aholics have heard about for so many years.” – Amazon review for The Trouble with Scarlett

“Martin Turnbull is a master at historical fiction. He isn’t afraid to name names, air the dirty laundry, or reveal the (literal) skeletons in the closet. Citizen Hollywood is sexy, gritty, and cheeky, yet still retains its moments of tenderness without sentimentality bogging down the text.” Shylock Books blog

What a wonderful storyteller. Mr. Turnbull captures the era of old Hollywood so perfectly you do not want the book to end. I am now on the third in the series and the quality of the writing never flags. If you love this period in the movies you must read these books. – Amazon review of Citizen Hollywood

This is one of the best, most compelling, well-written series of old Hollywood. From the very first paragraph of the very first book, you are right there in the Garden of Allah. The novels are totally believable, well executed and thought out, take a chance on this series and you won’t be disappointed. Amazon review of Searchlights and Shadows

~oOo~

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels by Martin Turnbull~oOo~

Join with border~oOo~

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