Patricia: Shelly, thank you for visiting with us today. Tell me, what are your favorite things to do when you’re not reading or writing?
Shelly: One thing I like to do is take my golden-doodle Baxter on nature walks so he can show me all the delights I’d otherwise be missing out on.
Patricia: What’s your favorite color and why?
Shelly: I’ve always been drawn to shades of sky blue, perhaps because it gives me a sense of endless possibilities close by, just around the bend and/or somewhere beyond but still within reach.
Patricia: How would you describe yourself, personality wise?
Shelly: This is probably a long answer, but since Ben Prine, the lead in my Hollywood caper Tinseltown Riff, is my stand-in, and I write to discover things that are presently percolating underneath, I could mention some of the qualities he and I share.
At the outset, I too often find myself standing back in amazement with a glint in my eye. For instance, my nephew and his wife introduced me to Howie, an old schoolmate whose mother prowls Melrose trying to shop her son on The Tonight Show as the world’s youngest oldest virgin. At the same time, countless wanna-be screenwriters, actors and actresses tell me their jobs as cabbies, hotel clerks, waitresses and what-have-you are only temporary even though they’re been at it for years. A contradiction that reminds me of the time when I was a starving actor and behaving just like Ben: an amused observer who will also jump in first chance he gets trying to make the grade.
Another quality is a kind of dreaminess, taking off into another sphere, frequently becoming lost in old movies on Turner Classics. Plus an incurable romanticism, longing for the girl next door, the white picket fence and the homey, neighborly small town goodness of It’s a Wonderful Life.
A third quality I should mention is a certain short-term intrepidness. While living in Tucson, I had a roommate who looked and sounded like a cross between Kris Kristofferson and Jeff Bridges. One day he pulled up in an MG TD he’d just bought and shouted, “Hop in, kid, we’re headin’ across the border.” Along the way he told me he was on parole for holding up the same town Billy the Kid did in New Mexico. The only difference was, he used a sawed-off shotgun. But here again, there’s a discrepancy. Ben, my character, would never just hop in willy-nilly and take of for Mexico. He gradually and unwittingly finds himself over his head. And that’s precisely why I needed to send Ben out there to see what would’ve happened had I stuck it out long-term in the entertainment business, unaware of the trouble that lies ahead.
Patricia: What are some of the favorite places you like to go?
Shelly: I guess one of the things I have in common with P.D. James is a love of settings. I don’t set out looking for provocative places, but when I find myself, say, on the moors in the western part of England or deep in the backwoods of Mississippi, a crime story begins to evolve. It’s almost as if it’s been there waiting for me to embark on a new fictional journey fraught with danger.
Patricia: If you suddenly became independently wealthy and had a million dollars at your disposal, what would you do?
Shelly: After giving a portion of it to my youngest son to establish his own theater company, I would probably use most of it for a dramatically worthwhile cause. Like helping the schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai (who survived that assassination attempt) defy the Taliban. Find ways to make education available so that disadvantaged young women in places like Pakistan can follow their dreams and achieve their true potential.
Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor and a frequent contributor of articles on all facets of creative writing. His fiction includes Twilight of the Drifter, The Twinning Murders, Lilac Moon and Sun Dance for Andy Horn. His latest is the Hollywood crime caper Tinseltown Riff. Among his works of non-fiction are the acclaimed The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. He lives in Litchfield, Connecticut.
He can be reached on Facebook, Twitter @shellyFrome, Linkedin and shellyfrome.com