Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Shelly Frome Interview - Shadow of the Gypsy

Photo Content from Shelly Frome 

Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at UConn, a former professional actor, and a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He also is a features writer for Gannett Publications. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, Tinseltown Riff, Murder Run, Moon Games, The Secluded Village Murders and Miranda and the D-Day Caper. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio: A History, a guide to playwriting and one on screenwriting, Shadow of the Gypsy is his latest foray into the world of crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.



Greatest thing you learned in school.
During my freshman year at the University of Miami I learned that everything was relative.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Donald Westlake, a Mystery Writers of America grand master, telling the publisher that my novel Tinseltown Riff had totally captured the loopy essence of L.A. and Hollywood.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Put aside all formulas, come up with a quest based on some issue that’s troubling you personally and let it work its way out with no thought of approval. In other words, tell the story your way using the first or third person perspective.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
The working title is “Fast Times/Big City.” I’m revisiting those heady years when Greenwich Village seemed like a small town and everyone—writers, actors, artists and dancers—were finding their true calling.

In your newest book; SHADOW OF THE GYPSY, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
In a sense, it’s a reluctant hero’s journey as Josh, my lead character, is forced to come out of hiding in the Blue Ridge and face up to his old nemesis, the rouge gypsy Zharko and his nefarious scheme. It’s also a love story as he has to earn the love of Molly, his childhood sweetheart, back in the hills of Connecticut.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope they can relate to the pull of old childhood traumas and America as the land of the second chance as Josh endeavors to live up to Teddy Roosevelt’s dictum to “venture into the arena and dare bravely no matter how many times you fail”.

What part of Josh and Molly did you enjoy writing the most?
Their scenes as Josh tries to be flippant to spare her from harm and Molly resents being shut out from his plans and circumstances and wishes, just for once, he’d level with her.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing SHADOW OF THE GYPSY?
The scene when Josh finally confronts his mother and she gradually begins to reveal her secret past, abandonment and longing.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d love to introduce Josh to Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye so they could compare notes and Josh could begin to realize how tenuous trying to grow up can be.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
Getting into my roommate’s MG and taking off for Mexico as he suddenly revealed he was on parole after holding up the same New Mexico town as Billy the Kid with a sawed-off shotgun.

If you could be born into history as any famous person, who would it be and why?
I’d be fascinated to be Mike Nichols and be adept at anything I put my hand to: improv comedy, acting, directing hit Broadway shows and movies like The Graduate and continue to have this great insight even during cocktail parties in some Manhattan penthouse among the literati.

  • 1. Trying not to write.
  • 2. Visiting a new and provocative locale.
  • 3. Experiencing a recurring dream
  • 4. Thinking about my difficult childhood
  • 5. Taken by the unique style and pursuits of another author
  • 6. Being troubled by current events
  • 7. Watching interviews of expressive writers on YouTube like Anne Lamott
  • 8. Unfinished business that won’t leave me alone
  • 9. Reminiscing about the good old days
  • 10. Being haunted by a compelling What if?
Journey to writing SHADOW OF THE GYPSY
At first, I came across a quote from Joyce Carol Oates revealing that something significant she lost or never had drives her work. I immediately thought of the father I never knew and my secretive wheeling-and-dealing over property mother who never once asked if I was okay or may have simply assumed it was my job to take care of myself. But my own story was too disjointed and pat to serve as the basis for a novel, would stifle my creativity, and certainly could never sustain an entire novel.

The second impetus was a Ted talk given by Brene Brown in which she claimed that Teddy Roosevelt’s dictum of “daring bravely” was the key to self-realization. This in turn led me to recall Joseph Campbell’s mythic hero’s journey which promised a universal underpinning to any prospective story line.

At this point, recalling Faulkner’s theory that the past is never past, and wishing to greatly enlarge the scope of this tale in terms of Campbell’s universality, I gave my unwitting hero the Hungarian name Sonny Korda even though he looked and sounded as all-American as a younger Robert Redford. And then had him change his name to Josh Bartlett to sound a lot more generic as he sought refuge in the Blue Ridge in the mountain town of Black Mountain where I live.

Once I added a rogue gypsy nemesis by the name of Zharko Vadja, I had a slew of unknowns to keep me going such as--what was he hiding from? Who was his biological father which would help explain his all-American looks? What was Zharko’s nefarious past, perhaps with the Red mafia in Europe and what was that all about? Who was Josh’s childhood sweetheart back home whom he yearned for and wished to live a normal life with (imaginatively created as another compelling intensifier).

In short, as one thing led to another, like the need to learn all about Zharko’s rejected Romany background, the deeper and wider the scope which insured that I had the makings of a project that would never let me down. Or, to put it another way, once you have the mysteries in place and are an incurable storyteller to begin with, you just can’t help taking the journey.

A nemesis out of the past suddenly returns, forcing Josh Bartlett to come to terms with his true identity.

Josh Bartlett had figured all the angles, changed his name, holed up as a small-town features writer in the seclusion of the Blue Ridge. Only a few weeks more and he'd begin anew, return to the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut and Molly (if she'd have him) and, at long last, live a normal life. After all, it was a matter of record that Zharko had been deported well over a year ago. The shadowy form Josh had glimpsed yesterday at the lake was only that—a hazy shadow under the eaves of the activities building. It stood to reason his old nemesis was still ensconced overseas in Bucharest or thereabouts well out of the way. And no matter where he was, he wouldn't travel thousands of miles to track Josh down. Surely that couldn't be, not now, not after all this.

You can purchase Shadow of the Gypsy at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SHELLY FROME for making this giveaway possible.
 1 Winner will receive a Copy of Shadow of the Gypsy by Shelly Frome.

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