Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Color of Shadows and Smoke

I've been writing for over 30 years, most of that time writing either futuristic or contemporary. All have had some level of romance in them. I just can't imagine writing a novel about people where there isn't some sort of connection. Most of my books also are usually HEA. I just can't seem to write one that isn't. Then, out of the blue, I came up with an idea for a historical novel set in Los Angeles during Prohibition. The more I researched, the more fascinated I became. I looked around for other books set in that time and found there weren't really that many. So I decided I was going to write one. There was just so much going on in the 20s. Especially when, like me, you write about crime, cops and the bad side of people. So finding out that the LAPD in those days filled the role of the Eastern gangsters. They protected the speakeasies and kept the gamblers safe. So a character came to me, a 30ish, Anglo (L.A. was very racist back then, so was the LAPD) good looking guy who acts as a thug and protector for his boss, the Chief of Police. His name was Billy, Billy Brewster. William, but he never used the name.

Already this guy was coming alive. He wasn't really a nice man. But he was the type of bad boy that some women have always been attracted to. Billy has no trouble getting a woman. Then he meets Maddy, Madeleine La Rue. There are all kinds of rumors about her, she's the illegitimate daughter or the Prince of Wales, or a Russian prince or... she was exotic, like he'd never seen in a woman. The attraction between them was instant.

Then a title. I have to have a title before I can really get to work. It might change later, but I want one. I'm calling this novel Color of Shadows and Smoke.

But now what do I do? It's not realistic that this classy, high-born lady would fall for a thug like Billy. So there had to be layers to these people. Billy was capable of becoming a better man -- in the right hands -- and Maddy couldn't be what the rumors claimed. It turned out Maddy was something else, but she was still a good woman. The finest lady Billy's ever known, and he worked at being that better man, worth Maddy.

The negative is Maddy is married. Her husband married her for political reasons -- he wants to be the Lieutenant Governor of California. And he'll do anything to get there. Include have people killed to further his goal. Billy suspects the man, so he sets out to prove it.

Since this is HEA Billy and Maddy end up together, but the road to their HEA is very rocky indeed. Since this is my first historical it will be interesting to see if my gamble that I'm not the only one who would find a romantic-suspense novel set in the 1920s fascinating. I hope so. I have other novels planned in the same time frame. The next one is about a good, upright cop called Ben Carter, who meets an wannabe actress, Anna Marie Daniels (Daniels was my mother's maiden name) who's not quite so upright as Ben. Seeing how they end up together is going to be an interesting journey.

Pat Brown
Award winning author of the L.A. crime novels.


Celia Yeary said...

PAT--wow, I wish I'd thought of this. I've read one novel about 1920's prohibitions days, a Dorothy Garlock, I think titled The Edge of Town. I enjoyed your blog, just how you wrote it was entertaining, informative and making me think it was the novel itself. Excellent--I can tell you're very experienced as an author. Celia

StephB said...

Pat- this sounds so interesting. I thought of the movie, LA Confidental as I read your post. I live just minutes outside of LA and I work for LAPD. LOL! It sounds like a fascinating project. I heard the LAPD was very corupt before William Parker, a chief in the 1950's got there.

I can tell you're very passionate about the project, and it's an interesting time to write.


P.A.Brown said...

Yes, it was Bill Parker who cleaned up the LAPD. In the 20s and 30s it was a mess. At one time they had something like 8 Chiefs in a few years, no one stayed even a year on the job before being fired by the mayor or ousted when a new mayor came in. It was Parker who broke the LAPD away from the political influence of the day and made them autonomous, which was the only way they could ever become clean.

And I love L.A. Confidential. The movie is my favorite movie period. Nothing comes close. Though I do like To Live and Die in L.A. William Peterson and Willem Dafoe were great -- and I loved Wang Chungs score. LOL. Sometimes I watch the movie just to hear the music.

Bekki Lynn said...

Sounds like an exciting story.

I love the whole historical 20's idea. So much had happened then that the ideas for stories are endless.

I've always been in intrigued with organized crime and all so you've piqued my interest.

P.A.Brown said...

I think that time period is just ripe with potential. I'm just surprised more people haven't done so. It's got everything that makes a great story.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Pat! Wonderful to have you at HEA! Your book sounds fantastic!

I agree with you re LA Confidential - one of my favourite films.

P.A.Brown said...

I was glad I came across this site. I'm just dipping my toe into historical sites and I have so many more to find.

It's funny, I never saw myself as an historical writer. I've read a few and enjoyed them, but I've always written either contemporary or SF -- and most of the SF was written years ago. Today it's pretty much all contemporary crime with some romance.

But researching the history of the 20s has opened a whole new world for me. I'm loving it.

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, I adore your title!

That era is incredibly fascinating and rich with human drama. Plus, folks were doing what could to survive while partying the nights away.

The twenties has always been like catnip to me. Though, I haven't researched it as much as I'd like. I added a bit of the LA thirties night club scene to a story I have in the works, even though it's set in contemporary times.

P.A.Brown said...

Catnip is a good description. Once I started researching I became more and more enthralled. It was filled with so many colorful people and odd partnerships -- I mean the Lady's Temperance League and the Ku Klux Klan both supported Prohibition. Regular joes fell in love with gangster like Bonnie and Clyde and Dillinger, but they also loved Elliot Ness. Go figure, right?

P.A.Brown said...

Oh, and thanks, Celia, for telling me about The Edge of Town. I'm going to get that. I've been collecting every book I can find on that time period, which is when I found there weren't really a lot.

I'd love it if I could start a new trend! LOL.

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, I think part of that era's allure was the power exercised by some individuals/characters like Elliot Ness and the Big Time gangsters... or power is an aphrodisiac.