Good day, my bookish peeps. Books, especially memorable books, are made up of much more than just the plot. These stories usually have memorable characters and are set in unusual settings. Would To Kill a Mockingbird be as memorable without Atticus, Scout, Gem, Dil, and Boo Radley? Can you imagine the Harry Potter series without Hogwarts, Hermione, Ron Weasley, Dumbledore, or Snape? It doesn’t matter if it’s the main character or not, the more unusual they are generally relates to their being remembered. I’m honored to host a return visit from Shelly Frome, author of the recently released Shadow of the Gypsy. Mr. Frome will be discussing characters with us today. Please help me welcome back, Shelly Frome. Thank you, Mr. Frome, for returning to my blog and sharing with us today. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.
Those Freewheeling Characters
by Shelly Frome
In his first detective novel The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe was changeable: by turns wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical, and rebellious. Moreover, there was the sense that Marlowe was keenly aware that pain hurt, life really mattered, and you never knew what you were going to run into. He found himself taken with his client the General, a dying millionaire with “only a few locks of dry white hair clinging to his scalp,” a man who spoke slowly, “carefully using whatever strength he had left.” It seems that one of the General’s unpredictable and troublesome daughters was being blackmailed. Soon enough, there were intimations of kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder as a number of characters, working at cross-purposes, sent the action winging in different directions.
Arguably, the prototype in detective fiction at least is Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. In this edgy tale, there’s always a subtext beneath the surface. As Sam Spade endeavors to catch the person who killed his partner Miles Archer during a stakeout, Spade runs into a trio of colorful characters like Brigid O’Shaughnessy who is so deceitful, she seems to be lying even when she may be telling the truth and leaves Spade perplexed to the point of even falling in love with her.
Years later, and by extension, the playwright Edward Albee confided to a handful of us graduate students that he’d had a problem with his play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The circumstances centered on a jaded couple he called George and Martha, stuck on a small New England college campus, who’d invited a newly arrived younger couple over for fun and games. However, the results were flat and predictable. Soon enough, George and Martha imaginatively came to him and threatened to quit if he didn’t back off. In truth, the pair of them claimed, they were not only unpredictable, they had deep dark secrets percolating underneath and all hell would burst loose if, and only if, Albee would let go of his outline and set them free. Albee complied and the fresh and compelling results can be seen in the movie version starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
On a personal note, I once attended a book fair in New York and, at the same time, was having trouble with my crime novel Murder Run. A story that centered on a laconic handyman named Jed who’d been falsely accused of the untimely death of a woman he’d been working for. Jed had reason to believe the real culprit was a mobster who drove down the night in question and then took off back to the mean streets. And so there I was, sauntering around the Little Italy section of Manhattan on a bright spring morning when I ran into a stocky character who called himself Johnny Diamonds and announced, “This is my territory, man.” A twelve-year-old scamp named Angie came along and said, “If you’re lost, mister, I can show you around for a little coin.” In my mind, this tough little girl became Jed’s sidekick and guide, a figure like Johnny Diamonds became the key to the world of the local Mafia, and anything could happen.
As one writer once noted, “No surprising characters, no liveliness in the story.”
Perhaps the novelist E.L. Doctorow put it best when he said that writing fiction was like driving at night with only the headlight beams to guide you. You know more or less where you’re headed but have no idea of the turns you’ll make, who you’ll meet along the way, and what influence they’ll have on your journey. ♦
Shadow of the Gypsy
by Shelly Frome
June 6 – July 1, 2022 Virtual Book Tour
A nemesis out of the past suddenly returns, forcing Josh Bartlett to come to terms with his true identity.
Josh Bartlet had figured all the angles, changed his name, holed up as a small town features writer in the Blue Ridge. He’d just give it a few weeks more and then begin anew, return to the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut and Molly (if she’d have him) and, at long last, live a normal life. After all, it was a matter of record that Zharko had been deported well over a year ago. The shadowy form Josh had glimpsed yesterday at the lake was only that—a hazy, shadow under the eaves. It stood to reason his old nemesis was still ensconced in Bucharest or thereabouts. No matter what, he simply wouldn’t travel over eight hundred miles to track Josh down, hook into his life, put him under the gun and ruin everything. Surely not now, not after all this.
“Sharp writing, and a keen pace keep this story rolling.”
– Lee A. Jacobus, author of Crown Island and Hawaiian Tales
“Shadow of the Gypsy is intriguing, complicated, and mysterious. . . “
– Tina M. Zion, award-winning author and international teacher of intuition
“By turns charming and chilling, Shadow of the Gypsy is that rarest of gems, a crime novel that curdles the blood, even as it tugs on the heartstrings. . . “
– Jaden Terrell, author of A Taste of Blood and Ashes, River of Glass, A Cup Full of Midnight, and Racing the Devil
“Once you start, you won’t want to stop reading. . .”
– Jana Zinser, author of The Children’s Train: Escape on the Kindertransport and Fly Like a Bird
Genre: Crime Fiction
Published by: BQB Publishing
Publication Date: May 5, 2022
Number of Pages: 330
ISBN: 1952782570 (paperback)
ISBN13: 9781952782572 (paperback)
ASIN: B09HST8WP5 (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: IndieBound.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | Bookshop.org | Goodreads
Shadow of the Gypsy Book Trailer:
Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at UConn, a former professional actor, and a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He also is a features writer for Gannett Publications. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, Murder Run, Moon Games, The Secluded Village Murders, and Miranda and the D-Day Caper. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio: A History and a guide to playwriting and one on screenwriting, Shadow of the Gypsy is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
Catch Up With Shelly:
BookBub – @ShellyFrome
Instagram – @AuthorShellyFrome
Twitter – @ShellyFrome
Facebook – @ShellyFrome
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