Tag Archive | Tender Is the Night

Tender Is the Night is Here!

 

Looking for a preview of the series? Look here.

As I was working on Love Me Tender, knowing that I couldn’t leave Gale out in the cold, I wrote a scene where Ryan, Mick, and Gale are arguing about whether or not Mick is too paranoid (he is.) In the middle of this argument, Mick is about to say something about one of Gale’s exes and a little inside joke popped into my head. Years ago there was a band I loved called Moxy Fruvous. They had a song called King Of Spain wherein there is a mention of the unspeakable Queen Lisa. On the live album, they pause after the Queen Lisa line and one of the band members says in a menacing voice, “Don’t mention Lisa.” (I told you it was an inside joke. I put most of these things in for my own entertainment because sure as heck nobody else is going to get them.) So I’m writing this scene and Lisa is as good a name as any, plus it allows me to have Gale, who to this point has been affable and even tempered, turn around and growl, “Don’t mention Lisa.”

And there it was. Gale’s mate and their story. As I was finishing Mick and Sarina’s story I tried to figure out who Lisa was and why Gale was still so burned about her. (Spoiler alert: Mick is heavily involved in the breakup.)

This did mean that I needed to know more about the kind of existence Ryan, Mick, and Gale were living before Ryan’s big break. In my internet perusals of Los Angeles neighborhoods I stumbled across Harvard Park and based on Google Earth pictures, it fit the bill, though I modeled it on a neighborhood near where I live. I tutored a kid in that neighborhood for a while and really hated to be there after dark. (After I finished the book, I stumbled across a documentary titled Harvard Park about a couple of baseball greats who came out of the little leagues there and went back later to train baseball players in the park. It filled in some gaps in my knowledge and affirmed the idea that the Harvard Park neighborhood wasn’t so different from the Buchtel area near me. I wouldn’t want to be in either neighborhood after dark.)

That means the first third to half of this book takes place before Try a Little Tenderness and the rest takes place after Love Me Tender.

And the bad guy gets it in the end. 🙂

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The Struggle Is Real

Excerpt:

“Some of the shows she’s green lit to pilot or outright purchased, I am not so sure about. Especially after this monstrosity this morning. But she’s carried three projects into my office so far and all of them have been brilliant. One about a grief support group that had a definite Friends vibe, but the three scripts I read had real therapy applications in them. Never heard of the writers, but the work is so strong. The second one was an hour-long buddy cop dramedy set in a sketchy part of town. There’s a lot of lowlife characters, but they’re all very real and they’re trying to be happy. The writers tell me they want to have one big redemption arc every season. The title is fantastic.”

“What’s the title?”

The Struggle Is Real. Isn’t that perfect?”

 

Here’s the problem with making up television shows for books. I want to see them. I really want to see this show. Like many places, mine has a program that helps police officers buy houses in the city. I had this image of a cop buying a house in a terrible part of town and moving in, dealing with his job and his neighbors (and the intersection of those aspects of his life.) Sadly, it doesn’t exist and I don’t have time to write it. So if somebody has some time on their hands and wouldn’t mind doing the heavy lifting, I have ideas. Lots of ideas.

The grief support group with the Friends vibe exists, but it only lasted one season and I’m still burned about that. Go On is a fantastic show that should have run for years, but got cancelled. At least it exists, so there’s that.

Missing children

Excerpt:

The stern tone of Mrs. D’Amato came though the phone. “Mr. Benedict, yelling is not going to help.”

“You lost my fucking children.”

Lisa grabbed her purse. Virginia and Saeed parted for her to get through the door. Through the phone she could hear the conversation on the other end like she was already there.

“Your children are not objects that can be moved around like furniture as you like. They move on their own.”

“You can’t talk to me like that.”

“No sir, you can’t talk to us like that. Now give me the phone so I can talk to the boys custodial parent before I have to have security waste time on you that would be better spent looking for your sons.”

Thank God Stevie’s teacher was married to a rock star. She was not impressed or intimidated by Jared. In the background, Lisa could hear Miss Perkins sobbing.

 

So, I was writing this scene and is there any scenario more terrifying to a parent (or teacher) than having kids disappear? I have had kids get picked up from school under odd circumstances (see my free read It’s a Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood) and that weekend sucked until I saw that little girl walk into school the following week. For the scene, I had the complication of Lisa’s ex-husband picking the boys up and discovering them gone. He’s a jackass and I knew I needed someone to stand up to him.  Then it dawned on me, I have a character who was an elementary teacher and as the wife of a rock star she would be in the perfect position to deal with Jared’s ranting. I also wondered what happened to her. Maureen loved teaching and I couldn’t imagine that she would have walked away no matter how wealthy her husband was. And that’s why Maureen D’Amato ended up teaching Lisa’s son.

Speedy Gonzales

Excerpt:

“Yeah. I’ve been working with a guy trying to get a series started. You remember Speedy Gonzales?”

“Sure.”

“You know they stopped showing those for a long time because network executives thought it would offend Latinos? Assholes. Latinos loved that shit.”

 

True story. I used to have the Looney Tunes Golden Collections and on the one with Speedy Gonzales the animators talked about how for years network executives wouldn’t allow those to be shown because they thought Latinos would be offended, but they failed to take into account that Speedy was always outwitting the cat. He was smarter and faster and Latinos loved it. The cartoons are marvelous and I miss them. Maybe I’ll have to get another set of those DVDs…

LeBron and Akron

Excerpt:

LeBron was hanging from the monkey bars by his knees. Gale wanted to take all five kids back in the condition he took them in, too. “What if I just came for the day then? I could come out tomorrow morning and spend the day with you. I’ll leave before they go to bed. Unless you want me to sneak back in through a window.”

Lisa giggled. “You’re bad. Aren’t you shooting today?”

“I was on set Monday and yesterday.”

“So you’re still getting a lot of days.”

“Sure, but we were talking about tomorrow since I can’t come tonight.” The Pop Tarts box they kept their savings in still had money in it and it was after the first of the month.

“I know. Are you sure you don’t mind?”

“Why would I mind? Other than the fact that I’m dying to touch you and we can’t get any time alone.”

“Me, too. LeBron, cut that out.” The boy was still hanging from his knees and now he was grabbing the other kids’ heads.

“Who’s LeBron?” Lisa asked.

“One of the kids I’m watching. LeBron, one more time and you’re five minutes with me.”

“Why are you babysitting?”

“One of my neighbors runs a little daycare out of her house. I pitch in on days when I’m home.”

“Aww.”

“The kids are nice.” Except when they were being little shits. LeBron had one of the poofs Chita’s hair was up in. “LeBron! Right here, right now. Gentlemen do not pull lady’s hair. Lisa, can I call you—“

Chita jerked away from LeBron. His fingers were tangled in her hair and when she moved, he lost is hold on the monkey bars. He hit the ground with a sickening thump followed by a screech.

 

I live in Akron, Ohio and our favorite son is LeBron James so I had to name a kid after him. Then, because I’ve spent way too much time with little kids, I had to make him a little shit. No insult meant to King James, but I needed a little boy with a lot of personality and that was the name I picked. I have another funny, related story. When I was selling all my stuff before I moved back from Abu Dhabi a bunch of Filipino guys came around to buy. They noticed my inflatable blimp hanging from the ceiling (which was gifted to me by the blimp crew after I supplied them with Smithsonian Magazines when the blimp was the cover story). They pointed out the blimp and I said that I was from Akron. The guy who had done all the talking lit up, “Do you know LeBron James?” Yeah, we meet for coffee all the time <eyeroll>. I didn’t say that, but I did tell them that LeBron used to ride past my house every summer when he did his bike-a-thon. They were happy with that.