Happy Monday, Readers. Today’s guest is mystery author Shelly Frome to tell us a little about his newest novel, Twilight of the Drifter.
Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of mysteries, books on theater and film, and articles on the performing arts appearing in a number of periodicals in the U.S. and the U.K. He is also a film critic and a contributor to writers’ blogs.
His fiction includes Lilac Moon, Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Tinseltown Riff and the trans-Atlantic cozy The Twinning Murders.
Among his works of non-fiction are the acclaimed The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage.
Twilight of the Drifter, his latest novel, is a southern gothic crime-and-blues odyssey.
Please tell us about your current release.
Josh, a thirty-something drifter, finds himself down-and-out in a homeless shelter in Paducah, Kentucky when he comes across a troubled 13-year-old girl shivering in an abandoned box car. In effect, this moment signifies one last chance to make amends for a squandered life and sets him on a collision course with a backwoods tracker and, by extension, the governor-elect of Mississippi involving deep dark secrets dating back to the Civil Rights Movement.
What inspired you to write this book?
It all started when a friend of ours invited us down to the hill country of Mississippi. As it happens, he’d inherited a backwoods cabin and was in the process of fixing it up. At one point, he suggested that he and I take an exploratory walk. Following a narrow overgrown path, soon we became entangled in briars, edged past some barbed wire as the terrain sloped down and eventually came across waterlogged limbs sticking out like menacing pitchforks. At that moment, I turned to him and said, “Bob, do you have any idea where we are?”
He gave me a half-wary half-mischievous look and said, “Shelly, I believe this here is Wolf Creek.”
Then and there something began to percolate. A feeling there were buried secrets here that would never see the light of day.
When we did manage to make it back, something about the cabin in the deep woods evoked a vague image of a Confederate outpost, and then a retreat during the civil rights movement, and then an equally vague notion of a caretaker for whom time was telescoped. That is, for him almost simultaneously it was the memory of skirmishes with Yankee troops, Federal marshals at Ole Miss during the 1960s, and an anxiety over Washington inflicting more mandates threatening his way of life. By this point, I simply had to explore where in the world all of this was leading.
What exciting story are you working on next?
My Hollywood story centers on Ben Prine, a thirty-something hack screenwriter who, on a Labor Day weekend, finds himself in desperate straits. Latching on to a dubious last-minute opportunity, he unwittingly embarks on a collision course with a Montana tracker connected with a Vegas mob; an odyssey which culminates in a showdown on an abandoned Western movie set.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When the kids in study hall back in Shenandoah Junior High in Miami kept asking me for the next installment of an adventure story I was writing off the top of my head.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
This question always reminds me of the answer a famous playwright once gave me. People kept asking him when it would be completed. After a number of months he would finally tell them, “It’s finished. Now all I have to do is write it down.” So, in a sense, I guess I’m always writing.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
An antic disposition which makes sure that every moment and every character comes alive on the page.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Anything that would allow me to be creative and never have to go to work at a regular job.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The poet Rilke once wrote that all art is the result of being in danger, going as far as one can possibly go and beyond. From all accounts, the Drifter seems to live up to that guideline.
You can connect with me on Twitter, @shellyfrome.