Sunday, January 27, 2013

GUEST POST: Author Victoria King-Voreadi

Today I am taking a little break away from those crazy bohemians to present an author that I think you might enjoy. After all, who can resist reading about someone brave enough to tango with the grim reaper? I am impressed with Victoria’s dedication and determination to make another person’s dream come true. Interrogation Tango sounds like a great story to get lost in.  I hope you read it and let me know how you liked it.
Without further ado please let me present Victoria King-Volreadi!

“The Grim Reaper and Me”
A fable for the young at heart…
It may seem a morbid title for a guest blog (my apologies Caddy) but there is a method to my madness.
I’ve reached that golden age where one’s mentors begin slipping away.   Suddenly you realize you are in the midst of a great void that somehow you are expected to fill!  No one tells you that is what you are supposed to do – you simply feel it, a deep rooted sense of duty to art and memory.
You immediately feel small and inadequate.  The task seems huge and daunting.  How can you possibly do justice to the work!?
When Jovi Starc sent me her manuscript… she was in perfect health.  She felt blocked because she was too close to her material and was looking for a fresh perspective.  She was a vivacious 58 year-old who didn’t smoke and didn’t drink.  She ate right and did an hour of Thai Chi each morning.  How could either of us possibly imagine that one year later to the day she would be gone?
Just like that, from one moment to the next.
When her mother entreated me to pursue the realization of her daughter’s creative works I was initially so intimidated.  I was also touched and honored.  I pondered the rough material my friend had left behind, her incisive yet tender observations.  In the end I acquiesced and am gradually trying to develop her projects because it is simply a shame for them not to be shared.
Donald was a different story: Bi-polar with chronic asthma.  We had been pen-pals and collaborators for quite some time, but patience was not among his virtues.  He was losing stamina and his long standing health issues were getting the better of him.  He had claimed to be “dying” ever since I had first met him, but he kept coming out of the corner with his gloves up so I never really imagined him as ill.
The first time I heard about Interrogation Tango it was an 80 page script called “Firewater”.  Don was incredibly frustrated because he could “see” it in his head, but was getting no interest from producers.  I suggested he develop it into a novel, a way to help others see his vision.  He complained but didn’t argue.  He had twelve pages that with a lot of prodding became 50.  That was when (unbeknownst to me) Don started submitting it to agents.
When Peter Riva at International Transactions called Don’s bluff, of course he couldn’t admit he only had 50 pages so he simply yanked all the tag lines and scene directions out of the screen play and tacked that mess onto the first 50.
Luckily Peter had enough imagination to sense the potential behind the chaos.  I knew how important it was to Don so I agreed to try and edit it into something that made sense.  Don wrote brilliant dialogue but it was all his voice, somehow I had to develop and differentiate the characters. 
It took a couple of weeks just to clean it up enough where it was possible to follow who was saying what.  The story had a lot of gaps, some immense.  Just to complicate things a bit more Don had no phone and his only net access was during New York Public Library business hours so there was a constant 24hour time delay in all our correspondence.
When Don insisted we resubmit the rough draft I knew it still needed serious work, and I told Peter that in a side e-mail.  His response was, “Solid start, you’ve still got my interest so get to work on the re-write.”  Donald was devastated.  That was June 2010.  What I didn’t know was that this time he really was dying.  He had been diagnosed with colon cancer but had refused surgery and been given 6-18 months to live. 
Don was 74, and tired, He wrote me, “Puss, you are going to have to take it from here.”  I tried to encourage him to work on something else while I developed the Elser story with Peter’s guidance.  He dredged up an ancient manuscript he had started when he was still in advertising and actually seemed to be enjoying the departure from his obsession.
Don managed to hang on 26 months.  The last e-mail I sent him in the wee hours of August 20th 2012 read, “Baby this is it, I just returned the final check of the manuscript, and tomorrow we go to into production.  We did it!” but he never saw it.  Donald Schwarz passed away alone in his apartment on August 20th 2012, just a few weeks before the book was released.
So, here I sit surrounded by the cultural legacy of two very unique individuals.  Their manuscripts rest patiently on my shelf while I try to muster the strength and the time to change my role of guardian for that of the midwife, to deliver what they set out to do but were interrupted by death.  I can’t help but wonder if I am up to the challenge, and worthy of the responsibility.

Interrogation Tango is an anti-detective story, based on real events and people, about an assassin who drove the Gestapo crazy because they could not explain him away. A non-descript clock maker named Georg Elser thought it would be a good idea to stop the onset of WWII. He thought he might be able to do that if he could kill Hitler and all of his entourage and, because he was sincerely looking for an opportunity, he found one. He placed a bomb in a beer hall where the Fuhrer was scheduled to give a speech. It was a good honest try and it went wrong only by minutes. Elser was caught by a series of accidents and, when his family was threatened, he immediately confessed. There was only one problem: his confession was unacceptable. The police had assassin profiles then as they do now and he fit none of them. In fact, it was obvious to the police that he was not a criminal. Besides which, politics demanded that the attempt could not be perpetrated by one of Hitler's faithful, adoring citizens; it had to be a British conspiracy. However, there was no conspiracy and the cops were afraid to invent one, since in the event that there was a real conspiracy, an invented one would look like a cover-up. Interrogation Tango is the policemen's story: the detectives Elser destroyed and the Gestapo men he drove crazy, followed by chaos and a body count. Buy links are below:
Author Bio:
 Victoria lives near the city of Heraklion on the island of Crete in Greece with her husband and her two beautiful daughters. A freelance writer and translator in Greece since 1992 she has received two screenwriting grants from the EEU Media Programme for both original and commissioned feature scripts and has worked on local and foreign film and documentary productions. Victoria met her co-author Donald E. Schwarz in 1994 while visiting New York and the two immediately struck up a creative partnership. Social media links for Victoria: :Twitter Facebook Linked In



Monday, January 14, 2013

Those Crazy Bohemians (Le Chat Noir)

It's been awhile, but I am back to my "Crazy Bohemians" theme. Although I love to blog, writing novels and painting take up most of my time. It's amazing how quickly time passes before I realize that I've let my blog go!

Here are a couple of questions for you: Do you know where stand-up comedy got its start? How about the very first flickering in the brain about making movies? No? Well, I can tell you where. So could any of those crazy bohemians of nineteenth century Paris!

The answer would be Le Chat Noir. What does a "black cat" have to do with comedy and movies? Nothing - and yet everything. You see, Le Chat Noir is French for The Black Cat. Le Chat Noir was a cabaret in Montmartre that fanned the flames of creativity that had been lit earlier, taking plays, music, painting, and acting to new heights that, until then, people hadn't even dreamt about.

Emile Goudeau, a journalist in Paris, had a group of writers and artists that met at his home on the Left Bank. They were called Les Hydropathes ("those who are afraid of water"). Young men, they did indeed prefer cheap wine and beer-in great quantities-to plain old H2O. They were, however, outgrowing Goudeau's home. Rodolphe Salis, an artist who came from money, had acquired a two room building which he had turned into a cabaret. He knew Goudeau and persuaded him to move Les Hydropathes to his cabaret in Montmartre. Salis himself had been entertaining artists in his home prior to opening the cabaret.

On November 18, 1881. a torch lit procession crossed the River Seine from the Left Bank and made it's way to Le Chat Noir. A man dressed in full Swiss Guard regalia headed up the parade, carrying a halberd (battle ax and pike). Behind him marched a large group of very drunk, very loud young men; carrying wine and singing. This signaled the grand opening of Le Chat Noir.

When patrons avoided the darker room in the back, Salis casually made sure he mentioned within earshot of several artists that the back room was reserved for the truly cutting edge creative types. All of a sudden he had no problem trying to get people to gather in there! Le Chat Noir was an open stage most nights. Musicians, singers, poets, and writers would just get on their feet and present their current work. They were never paid. They were, however, critiqued by their peers, always loudly and sometimes harshly. However, they were also encouraged and nurtured, with many becoming great talents. Artists also brought their paintings for critique. Loud arguments about painting often followed.

The place was decorated with a hodge-podge of things, mostly giving it a Louis XIII feel. Salis himself was gifted in promotion. He started a newspaper Le Chat Noir and sold advertising in it. Writers also wrote stories for it. Some were very avant garde.
 Le Chat Noir Journal

He did everything he could to publicize his cabaret. Many accused him of making money off the artists who only received wine and absinthe as payment. One time he met patrons at the door only to announce his death! He then led a funeral procession through the streets, ending up back at Le Chat Noir.

Salis hired Steinlen to design posters and a sign for the cabaret. Salis had seen a black alley cat hanging around during the renovation and felt the raggedy feline made a good symbol for the wild nightlife that would be found at the place. One of the resulting posters by Steinlen remains one of the most well know images to come out of that era in Paris (of which Montmartre was, and is, part of). Some even said that when the cat's tail was shown in an upright position  on the Journal or in ads it symbolized a male in the "aroused position".
Théophile Steinlen's 1896 advertisement for a tour to other cities ("coming soon") of the Le Chat Noir's troupe of cabaret entertainers

Because of the open stage, and the dialog between a performer and the audience, stand-up comedy was born. Much of the comedy, and almost all of the songs, was politically radical and/or raunchy. Everyone who was anyone in the arts community was seen at this lively cabaret.

Soon the bourgeoisie and many gentry started coming to Le Chat Noir on a lark. Salis and cabaret singer Aristide Bruand became known for being loudly rude to their upper-class guests, banishing them into a dark corner if they came late. If they left during a performance? They were called out and loudly insulted! The songs didn't change, and many found themselves the subject of amusement or derision. Still, they came - because Le Chat Noir was the place to be seen. Salis moved the cabaret twice more while it was operating, to accommodate the growing throngs.

Shadow plays were created by using zinc to cut out characters and then shining light on them to reflect shadows on a white screen.  These shadow plays were insanely popular with all classes and soon scripts were written and music accompanied the plays. This, then, was the rough beginning of cinema.

In 1897, shortly after Salis' death, Le Chat Noir closed. When Picasso and others looked for it when they arrived for the Exposition in 1900, they were greatly disappointed to find out that it had ceased to exist. They had missed out on perhaps the most popular artist's cabaret to ever exist.

Ad for Le Chat Noir

Thank you for joining me today to learn more about those crazy bohemains. I promise I'll be back with more soon!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fourth Book in The Gastien Series and New Painting Photos

Happy 2013 to all of you! I hope this year brings you closer to realizing all of your hopes and dreams, with many coming true. I have been so busy that I forgot to announce the release on my fourth book in "The Gastien Series" here on my blog!

Also, a lot of people had been asking me when I was going to get some of my painting up on a website.  Well, I haven't designed a speicific website fo them, but I did add tabs to the top of this page where you can view some of my paintings.  Just click on the various "Makin' Love to the Color" tabs to see my work in various styles.  I hope you enjoy them.

And, now, introducing the newest book in "The Gastien Series" :

Europe is full of dark memories. Giselle's love is forbidden; her chance to be a mother destroyed. She flees to America where she becomes the haute couture fashion designer to the wealthy, high-society Grand Dames of New York. After all, she had been mentored in Paris by the legendary Charles Worth himself.

Giselle's past remains cloaked in shadows, increasing her allure. Her heart is engaged by a man who comes to her only in secrecy, drawing her back to her mysterious past.

When her brother dies and his wife abandons their child, she takes on the care of her infant nephew. Giselle decides she has to stop and take stock of her life. She has been given her one chance to be a mother, but the cost will be the end of the few moments she can still have with her one true love.

Yet love is not easily destroyed for those who are strong enough to survive its pain.

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Thank you. Next blog we will be getting back to Those Crazy Bohemains...unless something else starts tapping at my brain!