After World War II, the American public wanted new cars, not rehashed models from before production halted in 1942 for national emergency production. As a result, U.S. carmakers offered products in all price ranges.
Returning GIs started families, the suburbs grew at an unprecedented rate and peaked in the 1960s. Many growing families had moved away from the cities and needed economical ways to commute to their jobs in the cities.
Enter, the American-designed and British-built, Nash Metropolitan measured less than thirteen feet in length, and was often called America’s first sub-compact car. Production began in October 1953. Over the next eight years, over 95,000 Metropolitans were produced and sold by Nash/Hudson, then Rambler, and finally AMC.
They designed it as a second car in a two-car family, for Mom taking the kids to school or shopping, or for Dad to drive to the railroad station to ride to work. A commuter/shopping car with a resemblance to the big Nash, but the scale was tiny. The Metropolitan’s wheelbase was shorter than the Volkswagen Beetle.
The miniscule two-seater came as convertible or hardtop models. No extra-cost, standard features (optional on most cars of that time) included electric windshield wipers, cigarette lighter, interior map light, and a continental-type rear-mounted spare tire with cover. While an AM radio, heater, and whitewall tires were listed as optional extras, it appeared all Metros left the factory with these items. Trunk space was accessed by folding the seatback forward.
In December 1956, the Austin Motor Company of Britain acquired the rights to sell the Metropolitan to non-North American markets. Modifications allowed manufacture of both left and right-hand drive models.
Several more changes came in 1959, including a glove box door, seat adjusters, vent windows, opening trunk lid and tubeless tires. The last Metropolitans came with a British-made 55 hp Austin engine.
Production of the funny little car stopped in 1960, but ‘leftovers’ were sold for under $1700 for another two years.
In popular culture, “The Little Nash Rambler” song was released in 1958 and often thought to refer to this teeny car. It was actually based on the larger, four-seat, Nash Rambler.
With the 1960s, came the birth of “muscle cars”, cheap gasoline and the need for speed. National pastimes included drag racing, and a return to NASCAR racing.
While some manufacturers offered one or two “economy” models like the Chevrolet Corvair and Ford Falcon, the little Metropolitan had no future. It faded into memory and became a curiosity for collectors.
Hollywood did not forget. The little car can be seen in: Clueless (1995), The Wedding Singer (1998), Blue Hawaii (1961) and others. It made many TV appearances, including Starsky & Hutch, The Ghost Whisperer, Square Pegs, and even The Simpsons!
Greta Boris is the author of The 7 Deadly Sins, standalone novels of psychological suspense. Ordinary women. Unexpected Evil. Taut psychological thrillers that expose the dark side of sunny Southern California. Her stories have been called atmospheric, twisty, and un-put-downable.
She’s also the Co-Creator of The Author Wheel, a site for writers on writing, and a popular conference speaker and workshop instructor. She describes her work (and her life) as an O.C. housewife meets Dante’s Inferno. You can visit her at http://gretaboris.com.
We are talking today with Greta Boris about her intriguing series about the 7 Deadly Sins. Let’s get started.
Jann: Where did you get the idea to write about the seven deadly sins?
Greta: I took a course on writing a series and learned that there are many different kinds. I knew I wasn’t ready to write the typical mystery series with the same sleuth appearing in every book, and I really enjoyed suspense stories that revolved around an “every-woman” kind of character. I needed a theme that could tie those kinds of stories together while allowing them to also stand alone. Since all crime and most stupid mistakes–which my characters always make–stem from one or more of the seven deadlies, it seemed a good fit.
Jann: You have a theme for each book—what comes next? Do you work on your characters or the plot first?
Greta: Since the character for the next in series is always introduced in the book before and often characters show up in many stories, I guess you could say I work on the characters first. However, I also think some characters lend themselves to certain kinds of stories so the two—plot and character—evolve together.
Jann: You have written and published four of the deadly sins. The Scent of Wrath, A Margin of Lust, The Sanctity of Sloth, The Color of Envy. Did you know in advance the order of the sins you wanted to write for this series? Why did you start with wrath?
Greta: Actually, the first book is A Margin of Lust. I wish I had started with Wrath because my book got confused with erotica and romance novels in the beginning! The order comes from the order in which the sins are punished in Dante’s Inferno. The more severe the sin, the farther down in the circles you find it. Lust is at the top, not considered too bad by Dante. Pride is punished in the lower circles of hell. It’s not necessary to read them in order, however. Readers can start with the plot that sounds most interesting, or start at the beginning.
Jann: Your main characters so far are all women. Will this be the case in the remaining books? Why?
Greta: Yes. Selfishly, I wanted to explore new careers vicariously through my characters. Gwen is a Realtor for high-end beach real estate. Olivia works in a Pilates studio and spends a bunch of time experimenting with essential oils. Abby is a writer and Rosie an interior designer. I’m interested in all these things and or have dabbled in them. It’s easier for me to mind-meld with a woman since I am one.
Jann: A Pinch of Gluttony, book five in the series, debuts today. Congratulations!! Honey Wells is your main character. Who is Honey and what challenges does she have to overcome?
Greta: Honey is a chef, shop owner, and cooking instructor. When the story opens, she’s hiking with her very fit fireman husband, because she’s had a bad doctor’s report. She’s overweight, high-cholesterol, insulin resistant, etc. Her problems are exacerbated by the fact that her brother-in-law has disappeared with most of their savings, so she’s working around the clock to make up the difference. When she and hubby find a dead body everything gets much worse. Dead bodies tend to have that effect on things.
Jann: Do you have a sin you like the best? The least? Why?
Greta: I’ve really enjoyed writing them all. I think The Color of Envy was the most difficult because it’s my besetting sin. I’m more apt to struggle with envy than the others. Maybe because of that, I also think it might be the best of the bunch so far. However, my publisher loves The Sanctity of Sloth most, and my editor thinks A Pinch of Gluttony is best.
Jann: What do you hope readers will take away from this series?
Greta: I hope they will be both entertained and challenged. We all have blind spots and sometimes it’s easiest to recognize our own through watching someone else screw up. A book reviewer who featured The Sanctity of Sloth on her website said the book made her cry in some sections because she related to Abby. She loved watching Abby’s struggle to act even when the consequences of not acting were dire then, ultimately, overcoming her reticence. Others were very irritated by Abby, but understood Gwen’s lust for success.
Jann: Are you working on book six? Can you tell us which sin you have selected and when it will be available?
Greta: Yes! I’m working on The Key of Greed, and saving pride for last. It’s a fun take on a locked room mystery. Willow, my main character, is younger than most of the others. She’s Honey’s (A Pinch of Gluttony) daughter. She’s a violinist, pregnant, and engaged to be married. I believe it’s scheduled for release February, 2021.
Jann: What are you working on now? Can you tell us about your next project?
Greta: As I said, I’m writing Greed now, but I’m also planning a new series—The Mortician Murder Mystery series. It’s about a young, Rock-a-billy hairstylist to the aged who gets a request to do the hair and makeup for one of her client’s funerals. When she gets to the mortuary, she discovers the woman’s death, just like her hair color, wasn’t as natural as everybody thought. It’s so much fun to write something with a bit of humor for a change. The Seven Deadly Sins have moments here and there, but they’re not funny books. The other series is much more light-hearted despite the name!
Jann: What’s the funniest (or sweetest or best or nicest) thing a fan ever said to you?
Greta: I just received a review for Gluttony that said my writing was a cross between Kathy Reichs’ and Karin Slaughter’s. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?
Greta: I have a website, http://gretaboris.com/,where readers can read my occasional ponderings, find out more about my books, and pick up a free novella, The Escape Room. I wrote a novella prequel to the Sins series called The Origin of Sin, which is available on Kindle Unlimited at the moment. The Escape Room takes those same characters and sends them into an escape room game that goes horribly wrong. It’s lots of fun. I’m also on Facebook and occasionally Twitter. https://www.facebook.com/greta.boris/
Thank you Greta for joining us here on A Slice of Orange. You have a very fascinating series with wonderful characters. Good luck with A Pinch of Gluttony!
Home to Roost
Four minutes before the alarm, and Trina was already awake, eyes open. Even in the dim light of pre-dawn she could trace the intricate lines of the cracked plaster on the ceiling. Some mornings, the lines coalesced into starbursts; other days, they reminded her of a detailed pirate’s map, the marked footsteps meandering here and there.
She threw back the covers and remembered—as she had every morning for the last three months. Any pirate treasure would stay buried for now. Amber, the 9-year-old lump in the bed, face buried in her pillow, was the daily reminder that the contours of her world had changed.
Pulling on leggings and an old T-shirt, Trina tiptoed out of the bedroom, down the stairs and out into the steamy July morning. Her niece could stay asleep. Trina hadn’t wanted to be a parent or a fill-in parent, but late on a chilly spring afternoon, sun glare masked the tractor trailer on the bend and her sister, Leigh, pulled out from a side road when she should have waited. For the first month afterward, Amber spoke gibberish, panicking Trina and puzzling the school counselor. And just as suddenly, the girl slipped back into normal speech, announcing at dinner one night, “Can we raise chickens?”
What could Trina say but yes? She knew Leigh would have expected no less of her.
So Trina was now also a farmer of sorts, with five hens in her rural back yard. She opened the coop door and emptied pellets into the feeder. Clucking softly, the Rhode Island reds clustered around her, already pecking at the food. Hallie, Hannah, Harriet, Hazel and Heidi—Amber had named the chicks the day they’d brought them home.
“How can I tell them apart?” Trina had protested.
“You will,” Amber said. “When they grow up.” She had chewed on a strand of hair, pondering. “I think.”
And so they had a pact, she and Amber. Trina would feed and water the flock and tend to the coop, and her niece would check for eggs, waiting for the first one to be laid.
There was no rooster—maybe later, they agreed.
After the round of pellets, Trina emptied and refilled the coop’s water receptacle. She checked that the mesh over the outdoor pen was secure, protection against the neighborhood red tail hawk.
“Any eggs yet?” Amber called from the back porch steps. She was still in her pajamas.
Trina shrugged. “I didn’t check.”
“I’ll do it,” her niece said, sprinting barefoot until she stood next to Trina. “Maybe today’s the day.” She was grinning with excitement.
Amber disappeared into the coop’s interior and was gone several long minutes. When she finally re-emerged, Trina was startled to see her eyes brimming with tears.
“What is it?” Trina said.
Amber held up both hands to her, palms out. There was not one egg, but two.
“At last!” Trina smiled in relief. Who needed buried treasure? “They are the first of many, I’ll bet.”
Amber, still somber, said softly, “The hens wanted to send a message from Mommy and Daddy, so they made two first eggs instead of just one.”
Trina gently hugged her niece. “I miss them, too.”
May featured author, Kitty Bucholtz combined her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. She writes romantic comedy and superhero urban fantasy, often with an inspirational element woven in. She loves to teach and offer advice to writers through her WRITE NOW! Workshop courses and the WRITE NOW! Workshop Podcast.
Besides Kitty’s website and WRITE NOW! Workshop Podcast, you will find her here on the 9th of each month writing It’s Worth It.
Sunflowers I will plant sunflowers in the hollows we have dug with a rusty spade it is time to pull old roots rotten with dead habit in this neglected garden long-choked by winter’s breath it is time to till the soil let it soak in fresh April rain steam in this year’s sun and exhale pungent fumes until its pores are free to seed new grass and soft beds for my flowers. © Neetu Malik
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