Hello world, I give you my first novel: “The Ardent Admirer.” It’s been a true labor of love over…can it really be?..five years. I didn’t think it would take so long, but i wanted to write a story that I could be proud to share, something original, and something…well, me.
What’s it about? The themes are redemption and obsession, tied up in a lovely package of lies, a murder-suicide, blackmail, gangsters, and publicity. It’s a black comedy thriller, a “how-did-I-get-into-this-and how-do-I-get-out of it?” It’s historical in nature, going back to the dawn of our public fascination with moving pictures and particularly with the birth of movie celebrity. In it’s own way it’s also something of a love story dedicated to a one-time star, mostly forgotten today, but undeserving of such oblivion: the beautiful, exotic and temperamental…the woman for whom the term “diva” should have been invented…the great and glorious Pola Negri.
The story concerns one Benton Dembow, drama critic for The New York Courier. Dembow is not exactly a likeable man. Once upon a time, he was the most influential critic on Broadway. Now, with moving pictures eclipsing the legitimate stage, Dembow finds his career waning. Add to that a miserable marriage to a very wealthy woman and his own feeling that he has to do something spectacular in a life that has become disappointing. Dembow is looking for inspiration, something that will make him relevant.
Enter a movie called, Passion. Dembow is invited to see it at the Capitol Theatre and, to his own surprise, finds it compelling. He’s never had a good opinion about moving pictures before. Most impressive, however, is the acting of the female lead, a Polish actress named Pola Negri. Taken by her work, Dembow decides that he will play Svengali to her Trilby. He will promote her cause, bring her to America and became forever known as the man who discovered her.
Yet he discovers he quickly has a rival for his plan and finds that his plan could cost him his job, his marriage and perhaps even land him in jail. He gets involved in a tragic murder-suicide, winds up blackmailed and pursued by a tenacious coroner’s investigator who believes that he is a one-man crime wave in the making. The deeper Dembow gets, the less likely it seems that he can get himself out and yet still fulfill his ambition to make Pola Negri a great star in American pictures.
So is it any good? Yes. I would really like to see it published. Selling a few copies, ultimately, yes, but right now I would settle for simply having a novel with my name on it. I am envisioning a series of related novels all having to do with silent pictures as the background. Here’s the potential line up:
THE ARDENT ADMIRER: done
NEGRI JILTS CHAPLIN: done
THE DOOM BOOK: in writing
THE WHITE HOT SPOTLIGHT
THE DEMON MIKE
While I’m at it, there’s a few other novels on the boards, also with a cinematic theme:
ADULT DOUBLE FEATURE
Then there is my “Balthazar Arkkane” Steampunk-meets-the-movies series, with three stories planned:
FADE TO BLACK
I’ve read some rotten fiction lately. Sort of a “how did this get publish” thing. I figure if they could get their dreck into print, i should be able to. That’s what I’m shooting for.