I will admit to falling a little bit in love with Louise. As I searched for a Hollywood star who could also serve as someone who stirred things up, there was Louise and within a few minutes I knew she was the one that could certainly stir things up. Her character was so perfect it seemed she had lived just to be in movies and in books that other authors and myself have written. I already had plenty of bad people, I wanted a person on Dan and Laure’s side to create mayhem in their favor. Learning about Louise confirmed that she lived the lifestyle to do just what I needed for the story. These were interesting scenes to write.
Her personality was the main hook. What made her interesting to write about is that she was interesting. I didn’t have to make up stuff. She wasn’t afraid to go places and do things. Louise went back and forth across the country on the railroads and I make reference to a Pullman porter who watches out for her on his train because she treats him with respect. I have no basis for that assumption except my feeling that as an intelligent and well-traveled woman, loyal and generous to her friends, she would recognize those who worked hard for their living. She might have had fights with Eddie Sutherland and later on George Marshall, but those were different kinds of relationships.
My guideline in writing historical fiction was to stay true to events, places and characters as much as possible. In truth, there are a small number of inconsistencies and they will be disclosed on the website along with more information including maps, sources for more information and even author interviews with my main characters so they can explain why they did certain things. This proved a comment that I found on an author’s forum website: “Editing your manuscript is the revenge your characters get on you for thinking you’re running their lives.”
In researching the 1920s I came across Wallace Reid who was one of the top stars of his day. He came to a sad ending from his morphine addiction which was caused by his injuries from a train wreck, and the studio gave him morphine to get through the movie. They continued to give him morphine and eventually his wife tried to get him into rehabilitation but the doctors of the day did not know what to do and with his body weakened by years of addiction, he died. I have Wallace Reid appear in 1921, early in the book. He was one of those stars who appealed to men and women. He was an accomplished musician, actor and did many of his own stunts. He was a handsome man and by accounts was a nice guy as well. The guys liked his race car driver movies, the women swooned over him as they thought of him as their lover.
I love history but before writing The Roaring Road I had little interest in the 1920s until it became the backdrop for my first novel. I work in the Sonoma/Napa wine industry and read an excellent documentary by Lin Weber titled Prohibition in the Napa Valley. The first part is rather dry (pun intended) as it describes how Prohibition came about. The second part reads like a novel as the author describes the shenanigans that happened in Wine Country. Another Wine Country Prohibition book is Rumbling Wine Barrels by Bruno Buti, which he maintains is the story of his family’s activities during Prohibition. The things that went on in California’s Wine Country during Prohibition rival the happenings on the East Coast, Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis.
Any favorite LB films or books?