How Do You Write?

That’s been a frequent question I’ve gotten lately. “What do you write?” Or “How do you write it?” And it’s one I love answering. Because I’m still discovering what works the best for me myself. Because I’ve started writing about real people, the first thing I have to do is begin identifying what I need…

Thomas vs Pickford (Backlots’ Third Annual DUELING DIVAS BLOGATHON!)

In this corner, weighing in at approximately 300 combined pounds, we have the team of Mary and Charlotte Pickford. That would be “America’s Sweetheart,” the silent movie queen, and her mother, intent on managing the lives of her other two children based on what’s best for Mary’s career. Newly rich, the Pickford ladies look down…

Boardwalk Empire, how I love thee…

Boardwalk Empire, how I love thee. It is perfection. There, I said it. I used to like Steve Buscemi. Yeah, I’ve seen Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and any number of his other films. I even remember a short film called “Tonight” he did for MTV years ago where he walked around and around a girl…

Viola and Ormer

In Kevin Brownlow’s documentary on Hollywood from about 1979, one of the elderly stars interviewed warmed my heart and charmed me completely. Her name was Viola Dana. Viola in Brownlow’s documentary Viola’s real name was Virginia Flugrath. Her sister Leonie was also an actress– stage name Shirley Mason. While a major actress of the silent…

The Eye of the Beholder…

What is the fascination behind humankind’s need to continually rip down old and replace it with new? Especially when the old is beautiful, majestic, and culturally important? Joni Mitchell had it right when she talked about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot. Being from a state with much new architecture, but also a…

Anyone heard of Karl Brown?

I stumbled across him accidentally in my research. Initially, I was referred to him from Kevin Brownlow’s first book on Hollywood, one of my early acquisitions, which mentioned his Adventures with D.W. Griffith as a source. And in my first few months in Canada, completely broke and with way too much time to kill, I…

Lost Films

In my quest to learn everything I possibly can about the silent and early sound film eras, I’ve bought every old Hollywood biography I can find. Plus many other research books. I can’t even fit them all in a bookshelf any more. They’re clustered around the foot of it. One of the facts I keep…

An ode to Olive…

It all began when I was about 12. I innocently checked a book out of the library that looked juicy and full of history. Even at a young age, I was fascinated by history. It was called Hollywood Babylon. Nowadays, this book has fallen out of favor, since much of the information in it, at…

Apologies for my enforced absence…

So the new job, as all new jobs do, had a bit of a learning curve. Throw in the hellish commute and the nasty winter weather, and you’ll see why I haven’t been doing much over the last three months but working and coming home to collapse. Pre-Christmas brought a case of the creeping crud…

Bit of a Fire Up Under My Posterior…

It appears to have happened at last. Ignition! After my last book, I went through a bit of a grieving period. Happen to you? You’ve grown so attached to this character (especially if you’ve been writing in the first person), that you can’t get them out of your head. Ollie was like that for me….