Edith here, exulting in spring, at last, north of Boston.
I am so pleased to welcome the great friend of the Wickeds, author Hallie Ephron, to the blog today. She’s giving away a copy of her new book to one commenter today, so be sure to ask her a question or leave a remark.
Edith: First, give us the short blurb of Night Night, Sleep Tight – which I loved, by the way – and how it relates to your own life as a girl in Beverly Hills.
Hallie: When I was 10 years old, actress Lana Turner’s boyfriend (a gangster named Johnny Stompanato) was killed by Turner’s 14-year-old daughter. The Beverly Hills house where it happened was two blocks from where we lived, and I used to ride my bike over there and just stare at the house and the windows of what I was sure was the “pink bedroom” I’d read about in the newspaper. Night Night, Sleep Tight combines a fictional version of of that murder with stories from my own growing up in Beverly Hills. (What if I’d been Lana Turner’s daughter’s best friend and what if I’d been sleeping over at their house the night of the murder…)
E: By some standards Night Night, Sleep Tight is an historical novel. How do you feel when people call it that? And which details did you have the most trouble finding out about, even though you and many of your contemporaries were alive then?
H: Historical? Really?? It’s true that so much has changed since the 60s and 80s. Remember when we “teased” our hair, used land lines and answering machines, when there were no computers or email? We all read movie magazines and ate at drive-ins. The movie business was very different, too — in the 60s it went through a huge upheaval, which is the backdrop to the novel. My parents were screenwriters. Most of the physical details I dredged out of my own memory, and fortunately there are lots of old-time photographs and ephemera like “movie star maps” of Beverly Hills that I could find easily on the Internet.
E: The rest of us at this blog write primarily series. You wrote a series earlier but now write standalones. I can’t image making up an entire new world every time I write a book. What do you like about that, and what is the most challenging? Do you ever feel moved to continue a character or setting on to another story?
H: It’s not that I don’t like writing a series, but the ideas that come to me work best as onesies. Yeah, it’s challenging, and it’s why it takes me two years to write a standalone novel whereas it used to take me one year for a series novel. The hardest part about writing? It’s the writing. Really. Whether it’s a standalone or a series. Just cranking out that first draft is a slog for me.
E: So interesting to hear you say that, since many of us regard you as our teacher! We all met you either through Sisters in Crime New England or at the Seascape Writers Retreat (or both). I’m
so sorry Seascape has been discontinued, for myself and for all the other getting-started authors out there who learned so much and who got a critical boost from you and the other mentors. Is there any chance that incredibly productive weekend will be resurrected?
H: It was so great going to Malice and seeing Seascape alums like you and Liz Mugavero and Barbara Ross and Sherry Harris with published books and Agatha nominations! Lucy Burdette and I may do it again… 2017 at the soonest.
E: As a group blog, the Wicked Cozys of course very much admire your long-running Jungle Red Writers group blog and the community of commenters you have built up. Personally that’s the first blog I read every morning. Do you all have trouble continuing to come up with topics, or organizing yourselves? I know it’s no issue to find new guests to feature – who wouldn’t want to make a guest appearance over there!
H: Surprisingly I don’t find it hard to come up with blog ideas. It’s infinitely easier than finding a plot for a book!
E: I know you travel regularly to fun places like Mexico and Greece. Do you try to work on trips like those, or do you give yourself a real vacation from writing?
H: Depends on whether I have a deadline. I took my computer to Sanibel for a family week last year and spent 2 hours a day closed in a room working. But mostly on vacations I like to truly vacate my brain.
E: Tell us something you might not have told any other interviewer, something that might surprise us about you.
E: What’s up next for you, writing wise?
H: A book! Please, tell me it’s going to be a book. I’m up to page 50 and wondering what made me think I knew how to do this.
E: LOL. It will be a book, Hallie. Have faith! But that makes me think of people who asked me what I was having when I was pregnant. If I was feeling cranky, I’d say, “A baby” or “a human.” What did they THINK I was having, an aardvark? (Yes, I know it was a gender question…)
Thanks so much for visiting us. Readers, stop by all day and ask Hallie a question or leave a comment. She’ll give a copy of Night Night, Sleep Tight to one of you!
HALLIE EPHRON is the New York Times bestselling author of Night Night, Sleep Tight, a suspense novel inspired by an infamous Beverly Hills murder that took place when she was growing up there in the ‘60s, surrounded by but never part of Hollywood glamour. A starred review in Publisher’s Weekly calls it “a captivating thriller.” It was InStyle Magazine’s #1 “Page-turning Pick” for April. Her earlier novel, Never Tell a Lie, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network. Hallie is also the author of the Edgar-nominated Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel and a regular book reviewer for the Boston Globe.