Those pesky stickers on the covers of books
Talking Location With author M N Grenside – Venice Beach, LOS ANGELES (Part I)
28th May 2020
TalkingLocationWith… M N Grenside, author of Fall Out.
My thriller Fall Out isn’t restricted to any one location. The story unfolds in multiple locations around the globe.
The main characters and storylines of Fall Out crisscross three continents mirroring the trail of my own life in many ways. I was born in London and as soon as I could, I started to travel either for work or for pleasure. At the last count that was 115 countries.
A number of these places and people make up the backbone to support the story of Fall Out. I’ve narrowed it down to Los Angeles and the South of France (coming in Part II) to give TripFiction site visitors a deeper sense of the book’s locations but also a glimpse into Fall Out’s plot, (without giving it away). The two I have chosen are as familiar to me as any place on earth.
Los Angeles is where the book opens and much of my film and TV career took place.
Director Robert Kelso, Fall Out’s fictional director, lives in Topanga Canyon. These hills were my first home and they are the backdrop of the TV series M.A.S.H. with its dramatic opening scenes of the helicopters landing. I moved from the 60’s vibe of Topanga to the boisterous and cosmopolitan Venice Beach where our story really begins with the death of screenwriter Sam Wood. Sam is in fact based on an Australian writer and friend living in LA, who used to laugh at the business that had given him such a good living. “Enjoy the ride mate. There is more culture in yogurt than in LA. Its biggest book shop, Duck Soup, is smaller than a lot of star’s garages!”
Despite this, Venice Beach had a profound impact on me and I wove a lot of my experiences into the book.
Writers love Venice Beach. It is inspirational in that all life is there. From pneumatic wannabee’s rollerblading down the concrete strip that bisects the sand, via action heroes pumping away on muscle beach to beach bums asking you riddles as you sip a cappuccino and charging you $1 to give you the answer. There are always people walking; something unheard of in the rest of LA.
Baywatch was shot right outside my door! Watching Pammy and The Hof flex and shimmy was not exactly the toughest start to my day. Incidentally the creator of Baywatch’s Production company is called Tower 12 and Tower 18 Productions; named after the lifeguard towers he sat in on duty whilst dreaming up the series. The towers are still on the beach. In my case though we have a killer in the midst.
The beach house owned by writer Sam Wood as you can see in the picture above still exists and you can walk right by it heading across the sand towards Marina del Rey. Dudley Moore did indeed own a house on Venice Beach, just not this one. Like the writer Sam, I would often leave my rented apartment and stroll long past the beachfront stores for one of Jody’s fabulous spicy Portuguese Linguica smoked sausages! The Cheesecake Factory and it’s firepit are close by and is open from early morning till late and people meet at any time of the day. The menu never says breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is constant all the time. It is exactly the sort of relaxed easy place widow Cara Baines would return to when she had to visit LA. It’s an oasis where for once, people don’t endlessly discuss movies. The Cheesecake of course is out of this world, though the linguine with prawns is worth a try!
I’m afraid Joseph Kennedy (President JFK’s father) never gave Gloria Swanson a home though they did have a long-time affair. Agent’s Louis McConnell’s house Roneel is fictional though an amalgam of many Hollywood heavy hitters’ homes I visited over the years. The interesting thing about LA is there is no cohesive zoning. So, in the ritzy part of Pacific Palisades or Bel Air you could find a faux French Chateau cheek by jowl with a Frank Lloyd Wright house and then next to that a concrete and steel minimalist bunker.
Without fail they all had echo chamber rooms, an English butler out of central casting, a huge pool but a pocket handkerchief sized garden!
I had meetings at The Polo Lounge at The Beverly Hills Hotel, Russo and Frank’s Restaurant and The Will Rogers Polo Ground; though not quite with the same dramatic outcomes as in the book. The Polo Lounge is the most legendary of all, with many a tussle taking place, as often as not including Frank Sinatra. The place is practically a Hollywood historical monument. All the above watering holes are where power brokers still congregate and where over drinks or a bite, deals get cut by agents, producers and lawyers.
These iconic places were the perfect locations to drive along the plot and conjure up a feel for the sizzle and buzz that is Hollywood.
About the book:
An LA screenwriter is killed shortly after completing his latest script, FALL OUT – a thriller destined to be a blockbuster but written with a secret double purpose.
Echoing events from the past the screenplay is sent to a very specific group of people and will change their lives forever. All are connected to a movie that had abruptly stopped shooting in the jungles of the Philippines years before. FALL OUT exposes the truth about a conspiracy and murder that led to a half-a-billion-dollar fortune for a select few.
Follow the story of Producer Marcus Riley, who sets out on an increasingly dangerous quest to get FALL OUT made. From a powerful Agent’s office in Hollywood, hidden treasures in Belgravia and a remote chalet in the Swiss Alps to murder at the Cannes Film Festival, Marcus teams up with designer Melinda (Mako) de Turris as they and the other recipients of the screenplay are pursued by an assassin from the past.
With clues cleverly concealed in the screenplay, Marcus and Mako unravel a lethal puzzle that for some will bring death, others the truth and ends in a cave with a shocking secret…
AND IN PART II, M N GRENSIDE EXPLORES THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
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