One of the more gratifying–and unexpected–reactions I’ve received from people who have read book #1 in my Garden of Allah series, The Garden on Sunset, is when they demand to know when the next book is coming out. It’s one of the biggest compliments a reader can pay a writer: “I care so much about your characters that I want to know what happens to them and I don’t want to have to wait!”
To which I usually wail, “I’M WRITING AS FAST AS I CAN!”
And so it is to those readers I am writing this post. It is a teaser blurb expanded from the single paragraph previously posted on my website.
Progress on The Trouble with Scarlett is coming along nicely. I recently finished the “This Is As Good As I Can Get It On My Own” draft and, at the wise advice of my editor, Meghan Pinson, I sought out a handful of advance readers to gather their thoughts and impressions. The manuscript is currently in their hands and I hope to have heard back from them by mid-May. That’ll give me a month and a half to continue working on it until July 1st which is when I hand it over to Meghan for pruning, primping, preening, polishing, and prettying. She’ll have it for the month of July and I’m giving myself a couple of months to crawl to the “Now Available For Sale!” stage. My projected release date is October 2012, give or take a nervous breakdown or Dove dark chocolate overdose. Or two.
In the meanwhile, here is a little more detail to keep you teased.
“The Trouble with Scarlett”
Book 2 in the Garden of Allah series
Summer, 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 talk around dinner tables and cocktail parties across the country is fixated on just one question: Who will win the role of Scarlett O’Hara?
When aspiring actress Gwendolyn Brick finally gets her hands on the book, it’s like the clouds have parted and the angels are singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Only a genuine southern belle could play Scarlett and, after all, didn’t she spend her childhood listening to her mama’s stories of Sherman’s march and all those damned Yankees? After years of slinging cigarettes at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub, Gwendolyn finds a new purpose in life: to become the silver screen’s Scarlett O’Hara. But isn’t that the ambition of every other pretty Hollywood gal with a deep-fried accent? She knows she’s going to have to stand out bigger than a hoop skirt at a Twelve Oaks barbeque.
Marcus Adler finds himself the golden boy of Cosmopolitan Pictures, the vanity production company set up by William Randolph Hearst for his movie star mistress, Marion Davies. He’s written Return to Sender, which becomes Davies’ first-ever genuine smash hit and wins him a coveted invitation to spend the weekend at Hearst Castle. The kid who got kicked out of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, is now the guest of the richest man in America, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Myrna Loy, Winston Churchill, and Katharine Hepburn. But the trouble with flying high is that you have such a very long way to fall. When Marcus’ Hearst weekend turns into an unmitigated fiasco, Marcus finds himself sinking fast. He realizes he needs a new idea to sell the studios—real big and real soon—when the Garden of Allah hotel gains a new resident. F. Scott Fitzgerald arrives in Hollywood with a $1000-a-week contract at MGM but no idea how to write a screenplay. “Pleased to meetcha,” Marcus tells him. “We need to talk.”
When Selznick gives the nod to MGM’s George Cukor to direct Gone with the Wind, it’s the scoop of the year and falls into the lap of Kathryn Massey, the Hollywood Reporter’s newest columnist. But dare she publish it? All scoops are the exclusive domain of the Hearst papers’ all-powerful, all-knowing, all-bitchy Louella Parsons. Nobody in Hollywood has dared to outscoop Louella before, but isn’t it about time someone did? When Kathryn plunges ahead with her story, Louella retaliates low and dirty. Kathryn’s boss loses his nerve and leaves her dangling like a limp scarecrow in a summer storm. Then the telephone rings. It’s Ida Koverman, Louis B. Mayer’s personal secretary, and she has a proposition she’d like to make.
THE TROUBLE WITH SCARLETT is the second in a series of novels following Marcus, Kathryn and Gwendolyn as they leap and lurch, win and lose their way though Hollywood’s golden years. If you love Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City books, you’ll want to get lost in The Garden of Allah.