My husband and I co-write the Skylar Drake Murder Mysteries, a hard-boiled detective series. Since the stories take place in 1955 we have researched a great deal of that era.
In the second book of the series, Strange Markings, Skylar is hired to investigate the missing nephew of a Los Angeles matron. Clues takes him to pre-statehood Hawaii (1955). As a result, we looked into commercial airlines of the ’50s.
We learned that the Pan American Airlines made frequent flights to Hawaii using 377 Stratocruisers. We also found something called Sleeper-ettes, and early first class attempt to provide comfortable sleeping arrangements for their passengers. Lobster counted as first class airline food. I found an old ad from TWA mentioning a, “full meal to be served in-flight”. That would have included: soup, salad, meat, vegetables, and dessert. And drinks was served in glassware!
Our fourth book in the series, Spike Hill, will be released February 2018, and yes… we are still married.
Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zeilinger
Published authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Lynn had been writing individually until they got together and wrote the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1955. Janet has published seven mystery novels and Will has published three plus a couple of short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and live in Southern California.
I know, most of America drives around in their own cars, but those city dwellers who find themselves in the back seat of a taxi or other hired conveyance may sympathize with the situation. Many people that drive for a living have the radio on: talk radio, music, endless news, NPR. I have to confess, I am a big advocate for silence, and feel there should be a bi-partisan movement for the right to not have to listen to stuff (on airplanes, in elevators, in malls, etc.).
Sure, I could get (and indeed have) earphones. But I don’t want to block out the world, I want to hear it, just not endless marketing jabber or musak or whatever. But I am particularly unhappy with having to listen to endless news or much of talk radio. There are a few talk radio stations whose goal is to be entertaining or informative. But most lure their listeners in with conflict, outrage, fear, danger, scary information, etc. like a fish with a dangler lure….
These kinds of shows—TV, radio, whatever—wind listener’s clocks, pull their chain, and give them some frisson of energy, hate, fear, anger, which seems to be far more addictive and universal (clearly part of one’s “lizard brain“) than a feeling of peace, happiness, learning or engagement. It exhausts me to listen to the streams of exhaust! And I don’t have adequate shields to effectively block out noise. Yes, I freely confess, I can’t pack with the TV on. It’s just too distracting.
Propaganda works if you hear information over and over again, it wears away at your critical faculty (if you have one). It’s convincing, even it it’s patently untrue and utterly ridiculous. If you see it, hear it, read it, talk about it it gets truthified through endless repetition. So I now not only ask the drivers to turn off the radio, but tell them to stop listening to this endless, depressing stream of fairly useless information. It isn’t good for their outlook on life.
It’s all a creepy, voluntary self-brainwashing.
I now feel much more charitable towards endless sports! But really, they should be reading romances….
During one of my Canadian vacations, I accidentally came upon a film crew shooting in the streets of Old Montreal. The movie was called Heavenly Dog. The star of the flick was comedian Chevy Chase (known for the Caddyshacks and National Lampoon’s vacation movies) and co-starring with him was a cute little scruffy dog named Benji. The plot of the movie is about a detective who is slain in the middle of a murder investigation and is given the opportunity to come back to earth—not as himself, but as a dog, so he could solve, along with the original murder, who was behind his own demise. I think it’s pretty obvious who played which part.
With hardly any effort at all, I somehow managed to get some one-on-one time with Chevy Chase. We talked about Montreal, the entertainment business and the movie he was working on. Widely known for his comedic behavior, I was surprised how serious he was when it came to conversing in small chitchat. I guess we all have this image of how we expect someone we see on film to act when we meet them in person.
Because I was on vacation, I happen to have my camera with me. But truthfully, there’s a reason why my friends and family used to affectionately refer to me as the Kodak Kid. If there was ever an opportunity for a photo, I’d be there with my handy dandy Instamatic. ‘Cause nothing says it better than a Kodak Moment (or to help you remember those things that age has a way of making you forget).
As we were posing together, I could tell Chevy was either making funny faces or doing some kind of gesture behind my back. I told him several times to stop, because I wanted to have a nice picture of us together. Every time I told him, he would humbly agree to stop. And like a fool I believed him. I didn’t realize until after I had my pictures developed, that he had put rabbit ears over my head. At first I was annoyed, but I guess Chevy being Chevy, he couldn’t resist. And now when I look at the picture, it just makes me laugh.
Several yeas after the release of Heavenly Dog I was at a CBS afternoon Affiliates party when I met Benji’s trainer, Frank Inn. Frank, a world renown animal trainer, got his start as an assistant trainer to Skippy, the dog who played Asta in all of those famed Thin Man movies.
Besides Benji (whose real name was Higgins), Frank trained Orangey the cat, who played Cat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Arnold the pig who was best known for his fictional character as Arnold Ziffel on TV’s Green Acres. Frank was so fond of these animals that when he died, all three of their ashes were buried with him.
When Higgins, the original Benji retired, he was replaced by his daughter, Benjean. She was smaller than the original Benji , but fluffier, and the tips of her ears had to be dyed to match her father’s. The older she got, her own ears turned as dark as her dad’s, and dyeing them was no longer necessary. I’m sure she was thrilled. And Benjean forever became known as Benji and went on to star in the most popular of the Benji movies, including Heavenly Dog, and then on to the popular TV shows.
Not only was Frank kind enough to have Benji perform several tricks when we met, but he allowed me to take a picture with the adorable moppet-like star.
After posing with both Chevy and Benji—man and canine, it’s hands down for me who of the two followed directions better.
Bobbie Cimo has worked in Hollywood for years. She has ALL the best stories.
Carly pulled the pickup into her garage, saw the single headlight of Linc’s impressive black Harley coming down the street behind her. He’d insisted on following her home. She waved as she got out of the truck, hoping he would take the hint and leave, but instead he pulled his motorcycle into the driveway behind the truck and turned off the engine.
As she took the pistol out from under the seat, Linc walked up beside her.
He eased the gun out of her hand. “Stay here till I make sure it’s safe.”
She didn’t argue. Now that she was home, the whole terrifying chain of events came rushing back with stark clarity. She followed Cain into the kitchen, thought of the Glock, and wished she’d had it in her hand when those men had attacked her.
She sank down in a kitchen chair to wait while Cain walked through the rest of the house. Tears welled. Dammit, she didn’t want to cry. Joe had taught her to be tough. He’d known he wouldn’t always be there for her.
But deep down inside, she was still the frightened ten-year old who had walked into the bathroom and found her mother on the floor, dead of a drug overdose.
She closed her eyes, bit back a sob. She didn’t realize she was crying till she felt Cain drawing her out of the chair and into his arms.
For several seconds she let him hold her, let the tears come, just wrapped her arms around his thick neck and hung on. Then she realized what she was doing and felt like a fool, eased back and turned away.
“I’m sorry, I’m not…not a cryer. Not usually. I’m sorry.” She wiped her eyes, mortified that he had seen this side of her.
“Hey. It’s been a helluva day.” His mouth edged into a smile. “Maybe I’m the one who needed a hug, okay?”
She managed a smile in return. She wouldn’t have thought he could be sweet. “Thanks for checking the house.”
“No problem. You sure you’ll be okay?”
Her smile returned, more real this time. “You’re bigger than I am, but I’ve got the gun.” Now resting on the kitchen table.
He chuckled. “All right, if you’re sure, I’ll see you in the morning.”
He’d see her in the morning? Dammit, she’d forgotten he was coming to the office tomorrow for the call to his private investigator. “Good night.”
Cain left the house through the garage, swung a long leg over the seat of his Harley and fired up the engine. The biceps in his huge arms bulged as he grabbed the handlebars. Carly pushed the button on the garage door as he started backing away, turned the bike and roared off down the block.
Exhaustion swamped her. Dragging herself into the bedroom, she stripped off her clothes, pulled on an XXL navy blue Drake Trucking T-shirt she liked to sleep in and crawled beneath the covers. The pistol rested on the nightstand. She should have been able to sleep.
But she couldn’t.
Linc got up Sunday morning at the crack of dawn, loaded his fishing gear onto the back of an ATV and took off to one of the two lakes on Blackland Ranch. He’d called Townsend way too late last night and told him what had happened at the roadhouse. He’d instructed the investigator to set up security on Carly Drake twenty-four/seven and find out everything he could about a guy who called himself El Jefe.
Linc had slept a little after that, not much. He’d awoken early and decided he needed to clear his head. Tossing a line in the water, kicking back and waiting to get a bite, worked almost as well as morning sex.
Well, almost. Hell, he hadn’t been with a women in nearly a month, too damned long as far as he was concerned. He needed to make a phone call, talk to Renee or maybe Melissa, see if one of his friends with benefits was up for a good time when he got back to Dallas.
Something stirred deep and hot inside him. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an image of Renee or Melissa. It was Carly Drake who fired his blood.
As he leaned back against the trunk of a tree, the end of his line jerked. He waited for another tug, set the hook, and started reeling. Dammit to hell, whenever he thought of Carly, he felt like the fish on the end of that line. How had the little blonde managed to sink her hooks into him? How had she managed to snag his interest so quickly?
In fairness, she wasn’t even trying. He knew women, knew she was attracted to him. He also knew she wasn’t interested in climbing into bed for a couple of nights of fun.
Bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, in Missoula, Montana, Kat has written sixty eight Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Her last novel, INTO THE FIRESTORM, took the #7 spot on the New York Times Bestseller list. This will be the 15th novel in a row to be included on that prestigious list. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.