North of Sunset ~ An Excerpt

By Lisa Maliga

Copyright 2010-2013

Chapter Four

 Tuesday

Emily drove up the winding road and missed the turnoff for the second time. “Crap,” she groaned. Almost twenty minutes had elapsed since she left her apartment. She turned the car around and then was face to face with the huge black wrought iron gate. Ivy grew over it and the brick walls and all she saw was the stucco roof of the mansion. She opened her window and drove close to the speaker.

“Who is it?” asked a gruff voice.

“My name’s Emily Karelin. I’m a temp from Job Co.”

The gate slid open and she waited for it to part to the right all the way before driving up the long asphalt driveway. Eucalyptus and magnolia trees lined the drive, their scent permeating the air. She parked at the edge of the driveway near the basketball goal. Triple Double was painted on the white backboard in red lettering.

Emily grabbed her purse and left the window down and the door unlocked and felt secure enough to leave it unclubbed. Judging by the new BMW 850i parked in one of the open garages, a Ford Escort wasn’t prime pickings for theft.

She slowly went up the concrete walkway, approaching the vast beige Spanish style house. The double doorway seemed massive and suddenly it opened.

The bearded man who stood there appeared agitated. He had on a pair of soiled jeans and an old gray polo shirt and resembled a construction worker. Only his Rolex gave off any hint of wealth.

“I’m Sherman Lee.” He stated and shook her hand as his grey/blue eyes scanned her body with almost as much intensity as Matt’s. “C’mon in…Emily?”

She nodded. “Hi.” She answered, feeling uneasy. As her mom used to say, he was at that ‘dangerous age.’ Of course, dear ol’ mom thought any male between the ages of 15 and 100 fell into the dangerous category.

north of sunset paperback lisa maligaNorth of Sunset is available in paperback and as an eBook. See more at the North of Sunset page.

Movies & Writing

By Lisa Maliga

Interior of a Movie TheaterHow can movies inspire a writer? Naturally, I’m a movie buff and I’m inspired by so many of ’em!

Watching The Shining many times I not only thought that Jack Nicholson was sexy—well, before the character of Jack Torrance went haywire—but there’s a scene in that movie that I can identify with strongly. I even made sure my Mom saw this part [when I was living at home], and said that whenever I was in my room working on my computer that’s what I was doing – working. She was offended because the character was a man who cursed and she always thought that Jack was so dirty that “he could stand underneath a shower for two weeks and he still wouldn’t be clean.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIqq9GusbSQ That famous scene!

There are loads of movies about writers. In My Brilliant Career, Judy Davis plays a young Australian aspiring author back in the early 1900s and the handsome and debonair Sam Neill portrayed her suitor. He actually was one of the inspirations behind the Alexander Thorpe character in OUT OF THE BLUE.

Apocalypse Now and The Wizard of Oz played roles in my Hollywood novel, North of Sunset. The main character, Sherman Lee, is an action movie producer so back in 1996 [when the novel takes place] he’s watching the mega long version of the Vietnam war film which wasn’t available to the movie-going public back then. On a personal note, I was privileged to see The Wizard of Oz on the big screen in the now defunct Hollywood Galaxy theatre. It was the first time I’d ever seen it in the movies and I had a different perspective and saw character interactions that I’d never noticed when viewing it on TV, whether via the VCR or DVD player.

I find Sunset Boulevard depressing and Julie & Julia charming but I’ve not seen every movie that deals with writers. I try to imagine my books as movies, and when writing a scene in Out of the Blue, I listened to music from Rod Stewart to soak myself in the mood of that time period. The song I mentioned, “Passion,” was heard in a 1980’s movie that I managed to miss, New York Nights. That’s why I thank the singer/songwriter in the Acknowledgments section of my book, as his music inspired the scene where Sylvia Gardener, my main character’s driving in the snow and imaging Alexander as she listens to the song, almost getting into an accident. Even during the final read-through, I was transported to the imaginary Southern Illinois city of Richport to a cold and snowy December evening…and I hope the reader will also escape to another time…another place. 

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North of Sunset

It’s 1996 and Hollywood is thriving in the era of indulgences. Sherman Lee is a volatile and successful action movie producer who seeks critical acceptance. Ever the partier, his excesses are starting to take their toll. He can’t keep a personal assistant for more than a few days until Emily Karelin is sent to fill the position. She’s a temp with no showbiz background, one of the requirements Sherman demands.

Emily is struggling to find what she wants out of life. The only thing that fills her nonworking hours is ice skating. She doesn’t trust men due to a failed relationship with a pathological liar. When she works for Sherman, they discover their synchronistic style and are intrigued with each other. Sherman’s longtime best friend, internationally renowned actor Wesley Barron, is aware of the producer’s problems. He also wonders who this unknown and mysterious Emily is.

“North of Sunset” shows a segment of a power broker’s jaded lifestyle. Even in one of the most expensive places to live in the world, sometimes you find what you’re not looking for…

Available at Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Smashwords, paperback edition

north of sunset by lisa maliga
NEW 2015 cover