Today on Paws 4 Thought it’s my pleasure to welcome local mystery writer, Steven M. Thomas. Steven recently released the first in his series, Chase the Rabbit, and will be attending the annual local author showcase at the Spencer Road library in St. Charles next Thursday evening along with me and a host of other local authors. We hope to see some of you there, but in the meantime, here’s Steven:
Tell us about your book, Steven.
It is an action adventure mystery set in 1932 Hollywood. And it has a lot of comedy to it.
Can you give us a synopsis of the story?
A wise-cracking free-lance writer named Bay gets caught up in tragedy and fame. The book is as much about the pitfalls of power and fame as it is anything else. It just happens to take place when people like Jean Harlow and Bela Lugosi were the hot tickets of the day. I can’t tell you much else without giving it away. It moves quickly and has a lot of twists and turns. And no one will ever guess the ending, that’s for sure. My intent was to have the reader think “Wow!” when they come to the end.
What was your inspiration for the book?
A writer friend of mine, Cleve Sylcox, gave me a 500 word story assignment to write a piece on “flirty women.” Out of that, I knew I had a character I had to continue with. So a 500 word story turned into five books. I picked a year, 1932, and started doing research. I used a fair amount of actual events of that time and people who were famous then. People like Bela Lugosi, Jean Harlow, Charlie Chaplin, Howard Hughes, William Randolph Hearst, etc. Then I twisted these people and events into a roller coaster story. It is written for people who have ADD. I thought, if I can hold their attention, then I am doing a good job of keeping things moving. The story moves along pretty quickly. The book takes place in twenty-one days and a heck of a lot happens in those three weeks. And again, if the ending doesn’t blow you away, then I haven’t done my job. But I think I did my job quite well.
What about the other books in the series? This is a continuation?
Yes. And things get even crazier in the subsequent books. I set out to write a series from the beginning. You can read them out of order or as a standalone book, but it will make much more sense and be more entertaining if you read them in order.
How many books are in the series?
Five so far but I have an idea for a sixth book. I was going to stop at five, but as long as I am enjoying writing them and people are reading them, why not write another?
Anything else you would like to share about your book?
I’ll be giving the damned thing away for free. You can’t be much more sharing than that. The idea is, if you like it, you will buy the others. I can see this as becoming a popular series, if it gets enough exposure. Which is the trick. I already have the audiobook done. The great JoBe Cerny narrated it, along with Julia Farmer. They did different voices for each character, almost like an old radio show. It’s amazing! And the logical next step would be a movie.
It all sounds very promising. Any parting words?
I wrote an interview with the main character, Bay. I will let him speak for himself. He’s done a damned good job so far. I am just the author.
Interview with Bay 1934
Conducted by Roger Walters, book reviewer for The New York Times
Roger: Your books have caused quite a stir among some critics. I thought we should address that first. They say you inflate details, blow things out of proportion so to say, just to sell your books. Would you like to address that?
Bay: They are calling me a liar. Critics are idiots who can’t sell books. I can’t be bothered with idiots.
Roger: So everything you’ve written is true?
Bay: It depends on your definition of truth. I thought I knew why The Graf went down. So for me, that was the truth.
Roger: Do you still maintain that the chancellor of Germany, Adolph Hitler had something to do with it?
Roger: It’s widely believed that you made that up to sell books.
Bay: I wish I could take credit for being so creative. Hitler is a dangerous man. Mark my words.
Roger: Your work in Hollywood movies has been highly publicized. Some people think you took advantage of becoming famous from the Graf Disaster to carve out a career in motion pictures. How do you respond to that?
Bay: I would say they are right.
Roger: Your book about the Hollywood Murders became your best seller to date. What can you tell us now that was not included in the book?
Roger: I’m going to throw out some names, and I’d like you to respond with the first thing that comes to mind. Okay?
Roger: Groucho Marx.
Bay: He’s like a fine clock. Groucho is constantly funny. Even if it’s just he and I in the room together. One of the brightest minds of our times.
Roger: How is he like a clock?
Bay: The timing is perfect.
Roger: Bela Lugosi.
Bay: Friend and mentor. I look up to him in every way. He is misunderstood because of Dracula and his other roles. The truth is, Lugosi is the nicest man I’ve ever met.
Roger: You stayed at his house for some time, didn’t you?
Bay: He took me in when I had no place else to go. I wrote the Graf book at his place, in his library.
Roger: William Randolph Hearst.
Bay: That’s a tough nut to crack. There are so many sides to Hearst. Sometimes I think I know him well, but other times, I don’t know him at all. He is a genius though. He’s always three steps ahead of everyone else in the room.
Roger: But you are friends with him, aren’t you?
Bay: I guess you could say that. We are, after all, Grafers.
Roger: Which leads me to the question about your raising money for The Alma Rubens Foundation. How did that all come about?
Bay: It was just an idea I had. The studios don’t take care of their stars after they stop working. I thought someone should.
Roger: And you managed to get a lot of major stars behind you. Was that a difficult task?
Roger: Back to the names. James Cagney.
Bay: I didn’t like him at first, but eventually he warmed up to me.
Roger: Jean Harlow.
Bay: She can out-drive anyone in Hollywood. Very intelligent girl. And a dear friend.
Roger: Some people say you are more than friends.
Bay: That’s just the sort of thing some people would say.
Roger: Joan Crawford.
Bay: I don’t really know her that well.
Roger: But she was on the Graf. She is a Grafer.
Bay: Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t all that close.
Roger: Howard Hughes.
Bay: I think of him as a pilot. That is what he does best.
Roger: Besides the people we’ve already mentioned, who do you most admire in Hollywood, and why?
Bay: You mean besides Bela Lugosi?
Roger: Yes, besides Lugosi, Jean Harlow and the others.
Bay: No one.
Roger: But you must have something good to say about someone.
Bay: There is a waitress I know named Rita. She is very good.
Roger: What is next for Gretch Bayonne. Do you have any plans?
Bay: I have a few movie roles lined up. Other than that, I don’t have any long range plans.
Roger: Any new books on the horizon?
Roger: But you said that before, and lo and behold, you came out with another book.
Bay: I was lying then.
Roger: Then how do we know you aren’t lying now?
Bay: That’s the beauty of it. You don’t.
Pick up a copy of Chase the Rabbit today on Amazon.
And the story continues with book 2 – Rabbits Never Die.
Connect with Steven on Facebook.