2012 – Books by our LA authors – Zombies, Gumshoes, and Twisted Shakespeare for YA - all in Hollywood - would you expect anything less?
There are lists and lists of books we shoulda, coulda, woulda read this last year – but didn’t. I must admit that I did read many of them, mostly geeky academic stuff that nobody wants to hear about, but there were three very unknown books that actually showed up on my “literary doorstep” and immediately piqued my interest. These are by writers who live right here in Los Angeles and know this city and/or the audience.
As a third generation Los Angelino, I always enjoy reading about Los Angeles or our denizens; the same for movies and TV shows. The difference with these three is that each has a very different twist: zombies who became that way in a very possible manner; private dick/gumshoe/ with a surprising — VERY surprising — “mark”; and a pair of young women writers who decided to jerk a knot in Shakespeare’s Literary tail/tales for Young Adult readers.
I was lucky enough to get chance to interview all of these authors. Very different books and very different authors.
GET LUCKY - Chris Lusvardi
"A hundred thousand bucks, all for killing an animal with less natural intelligence than a barnyard pig." What would you do?
After reading this teaser on the cover of Get Lucky, I knew I had to track down Chris Lusvardi here in town and get the real scoop on this. Having reviewed Chris's film, Man Maid, several years ago at the Ashland Film Festival, I was very curious when I was given the opportunity read his latest book. Considering the story line of his film, Man Maid, I knew this had to be very "out there" and very funny. It's both. Even the title is "both"...is it Get Lucky? Or is it Get Lucky! With Chis I wasn't sure which and knew it would probably be both.
Get Lucky has everyone's favorite Hollywood locales, pastiches of people seen everyday all over LA, and the insane but true stories always going on - this one takes them all and cranks them up to hysterical proportions with twists that are believable since this is Hollywood.
Ya got your gumshoe, but still attractive and always down on his luck, the beautiful woman with an off story, the spunky secretary, and from there it turns into the story of a boy and his dog. I know, I know. You can to read this in an afternoon and spend the rest of the day smiling as you remember different outrageous scenes.
When I spoke to Chris and asked what he had coming up he told me a comedy. This didn't surprise me.
"SURF AND PROTECT is a half hour comedy with all the ridiculous, scantily clad sexiness of BAY WATCH and the story generator of a cop show -- but with the off-kilter and often outrageous comedic sensibilities of ALWAYS SUNNY and CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL. Always surprising, always energetic and occasionally insane."
Uh-oh. One can only slightly imagine but do keep on the look out and in the meantime - "Get Lucky".
Get Lucky available through Amazon.com
Man Maid available through Verizon's FIOS service (soon to be domestic dvd)
TWISTED LIT - the series by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes
I knew my first question for Kim Askew even before I spoke to her.
MELISSA BERRY: As a English Lit major and teacher I can only imagine the origins of this series.
Kim Askew: Amy and I are both former English Majors, so when we hit on the idea of adapting Shakespeare for a YA audience, it felt like the perfect fit. His plays tackle timeless themes, from dysfunctional families to young love to the quest for power. We've included many references to the Bard's works throughout our series, but readers don't have know a line of Shakespeare to enjoy the books."
I couldn't agree with her more based on my experiences in classrooms from Middle School through high school. The reviews couldn't agree more:
"Irresistible debut novel. We can assure you reading the surprising adventures of their richly drawn heroines, Miranda Prospero and Skye Kingston, in the Twisted Lit series is nothing short of thrilling." --Children's Book Review
"Death, betrayal, ruthless plots to seize the "crown"—all the seeds of stage tragedy take root and flourish in this clever modern-day homage to Macbeth." --Kirkus Review
Twisted Lit is having a book signing with Kim and Amy at Skylight Books in Los Feliz. (Skylight Books was the legendary Chatterton's when I was in college.) The authors will be doing readings from their books, discussing the concepts, and signing books. This is something all English teachers and lovers of Shakespeare for Young Adult readers should attend. So get thee to Skylight Books - see you anon!
Anti-Sentient by Linda Butler
Recently I had the opportunity to read Anti-Sentient by first time author, Linda Butler. Zombies have never been my thing. This is decidedly different. These are zombies, but not zombies in the traditional sense. These are 21st century zombies and all that can be implied from that, and all the reader can infer.
After reading only a few pages, I was totally engrossed. When taking a break, which I had to do every so often since this is not only a genuine page-turner, but also acutely intense, the details of how this book came about kept arising.
I had some immediate concerns when I interviewed author, Linda Butler, about Anti-Sentient.
Melissa Berry: Zombie-safe?
Linda Butler: When I saw Night of The Living Dead at a very young age, I was so impressionable that I thought it was real. I was immediately sizing up how safe my house would be in a zombie outbreak. Since then I've been drawn to the genre. But, when approaching this work, I didn't want the tried and true Romero zombie. I also wanted to present the cause of the outbreak, something that's often gleaned over.
MB: What was the inspiration for this? How did it get to be fiction based on what could become fact? Ms. Butler's quote on the book jacket says it all:
"With pharmaceutical remedies for everything from headaches to sexual impotency, mankind has become reliant on substances to alter natural states. Science continues to produce drugs aimed at creating perfection, both physically and emotionally. What happens when the result fails, stripping away the humanity of both the creator and the recipient?"
As it says on the cover: "When your family, friends and acquaintances are becoming zombies, but not the usual kind."
Chris Lusvardi, Kim Askew and Amy Helmes, and Linda Butler all live here in Los Angeles. Don't be shy if you'd like to contact them - you can Google them (as I did!), find them on Facebook or maybe just in your corner market...you never know since this is Hollywood.