Today my guest is Georgie Lee, author of Studio Relations, a story set in the Hollywood of 1935. Welcome to Susana’s Parlour, Georgie!
What inspired you to start writing?
I can’t say any one thing inspired me to be a writer. I grew up writing many different things including poetry, short stories and screenplays. I wrote a short story for a contest in sixth grade. At the time, I was fascinated by Greek mythology so I created a myth about the Greek gods and the creation of the silver swan constellation. The story won first prize.
My professional writing career began at a small cable TV station in San Diego where I wrote marketing videos and public service announcements. I’d always dreamed of being a screenwriter, so I moved to Los Angeles and earned my MA in screenwriting. Despite my best efforts, screenwriting success proved a little elusive (OK, a LOT elusive). I’d always read romance novels and so I thought to myself, heck, I can write a romance novel. So I did. The first draft wasn’t pretty, but I learned a lot during the revision process. That story went on to become Lady’s Wager, a Regency romance and my first published novel.
Some days, it feels like forever.
What advice would you give writers just starting out?
Keep trying and don’t give up. There were many years where I was writing and nothing was being published and then all of a sudden, one day, all the hard work began to pay off. It’s a long-term career so you can’t let setbacks make you give up.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I do suffer from writer’s block. To overcome it, I either go back and edit until I find my groove again, or I do research. Sometimes a historical fact can inspire a scene and snap me out of the block.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Characters. I usually start with a specific scene involving two characters and then build the story out from there.
Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
In Studio Relations, I pay homage to my favorite film Gone with the Wind. The film the heroine directs is a Civil War movie, and I drew on my knowledge of Gone with the Wind’s production to help me make the scenes dealing with the film’s production authentic to the time period.
Are you working on something at present you would like to tell us about?
I’m currently working on a couple of Regency romances for Harlequin. I also have a Regency-set novella coming out from Carina Press in July.
What are you reading now?
I’m always reading more than one book at a time, usually a mix of historical non-fiction and romance. The non-fiction book I’m reading right now is Twilight Over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess by Inge Sargent. The fiction book I’m reading is A Night To Surrender by Tessa Dare.
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
There are so many great books which have influenced me but the first was Watership Down. It was the first adult book I read and I loved it so much that I read it more than once. I enjoy post-apocalyptic stories and this one has such great characters and such a different kind of post-apocalyptic sense about it that I was drawn in and it has never let go.
What is your work schedule like when writing?
I’m a stay-at-home mom, so when my little one is awake, I’m not usually writing. I write first thing in the morning when the distractions are at a minimum and I am, for the most part, awake. I will write during nap time and, if I have the energy, in the evenings.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a screenwriter, and a whale trainer at Sea World.
What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?
Chocolate is my favorite food. Bell peppers are my least favorite. When I was growing up, my mom used to make stuffed bell peppers. It was one of those dishes with nothing to like about it and everything to hate. It turned me off peppers to the point that I can’t even stand the smell of them (sorry, mom).
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I used to be a pantser, but now I really have to sit down and write a summary and work on my characters before I get too far into a story. Having a summary really helps me make the best use of my limited writing time.
What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
I once took classes in how to read and speak ancient Egyptian. For a time, I could read some hieroglyphics, but I’ve since forgotten most of what I learned.
Is there a writer you idolize? If so, who?
I’ve been inspired by so many great authors, it’s hard to pick just one. I’m going to go with a few classics, Oscar Wilde for sharp witty dialogue, W. Somerset Maugham for great insight into characters and D.H. Lawrence for well developed internal monologue.
What would we find under your bed?
Plastic storage bins, dust bunnies and the random flip flop.
Do you have a favorite quote or saying?
“After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?
I write both contemporary and historical and my historicals are set in many different time periods. I have one Regency and three contemporary romances currently available, and a novella set in ancient Rome. In the future, I’ll be focusing on the Regency.
What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
I’d like to get faster with my writing. I also wouldn’t mind hitting some kind of best-seller list, either one of the big ones, or even just one small one.
About Studio Relations
Vivien Howard hasn’t forgiven Weston Holmes for almost derailing her career five years ago. Female directors in 1930s Hollywood are few and far between, and a man who coasts by on his good looks and family connections can’t possibly appreciate what it took for her to get to where she is. But when the studio head puts Weston in charge of overseeing Vivien’s ambitious Civil War film, she realizes she has a choice: make nice with her charismatic new boss or watch a replacement director destroy her dream.
Weston Holmes doesn’t know much about making movies, but he knows plenty about money. And thanks to the Depression, ticket sales are dangerously low. The studio can’t afford a flop—or bad press, which is exactly what threatens to unfold when an innocent encounter between Weston and Vivien is misconstrued by the gossip rags. The only solution? A marriage of convenience that will force the bickering duo into an unlikely alliance—and guide them to their own happy Hollywood ending.
Studio Relations Excerpt
Vivien Howard marched into Earl Holmes’s office and threw the script on his desk. “Storm of the South. This is it. This is the picture I want to direct next.”
Earl picked up the script and flipped through it, unfazed. “The Civil War? It’s been done, and badly.”
“Not the way I’m going to do it.”
“I read the script a couple of months back. It’s a war movie. A woman can’t direct a war movie.” He tossed the script onto his large mahogany desk and leaned back in his leather chair, his hands clasped over his round belly, his graying eyebrows knitted as his eyes bored into her. Earl’s imposing attitude would have cowed a lesser director, but Vivien had played this game too many times with the old studio head to be scared off now.
“It’s a love story set during a war.”
“The Civil War.”
“I know exactly how I’m going to shoot it.” She sat down on Earl’s plush leather sofa, pushing back her shoulder- length curly brown hair. She crossed her legs, thankful Miss Hepburn’s popularity had made wearing trousers respectable. Even if the Women’s Decency League proclaimed pants the ruin of womankind, Vivien preferred them to skirts and always made sure they were femininely tailored to complement her dark hair and eyes. Being one of only a few female directors in Hollywood, she played a man’s game, but she was always careful to remain a lady. Her career depended on this tightrope walk.
Earl leaned back in his chair and studied her. She knew he was intrigued, but she also knew he hated to let directors think they were getting their way, even if they were.
“The boys in New York won’t like the idea of a woman directing a war movie,” he replied, selecting a cigar from the humidor on his desk.
“If you pitch it right, they’ll love this project.”
“But I’ve got to love it first.” He clipped off the end of the cigar and placed it between his lips. Vivien picked up the large silver lighter from his desk, popped open the cap, sparked the flame, and held it out to him across the desk.
“You love the money my films make. You also love how good my successful films make you look to the boys in New York.”
Earl leaned forward and lit his cigar, then sat back in his chair, slowly drawing in the smoke. Vivien knew she had him. She smiled, waiting for him to make the next move.
“Who’d you have in mind for the lead?” he asked.
“Peter Davies. He’s perfect.”
“He’s a supporting actor. You need a leading man with box office draw, someone like Gary Roth.”
Vivien perched on the edge of his desk. “Peter has leading man potential. All he needs is the right role, and this is it. ”
“And the fact that you two are dating?”
“Has nothing to do with it.” Vivien was on shaky ground, and she knew it.
“The boys in New York are going to insist on a big star, especially when they get wind that I’m letting you direct a war movie,” Earl protested.
Vivien fixed him with a serious look. “It’s a love story, and you know it. It’s also the best script to come across my desk in years, and I’m the best director to do it.”
“We still need a star to headline it.”
“And we’ll have one when I cast the female lead.”
Earl chewed on the end of his cigar, eyeing her. “Fine. You can do it. Start tomorrow.”
“I’ll start today.” Vivien jumped to her feet. She’d been planning the film on the sly for weeks and relished the chance to finally work on it out in the open.
Earl shook his head, snatching the black phone off the receiver. “I don’t let any of my stars push me around half as much as you do.”
Vivien smiled over her shoulder as she made her way to the door. “That’s because no one makes as much money for you as I do.”
“Don’t make me regret this, Vivien,” Earl called out after her.
“You won’t, I promise.” She winked, then slipped out the door.
Available at Montlake Romance
A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.
Her traditional Regency, Lady’s Wager and her contemporary novella Rock ‘n Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood is currently available from Avalon Books. Mask of the Gladiator, a novella of ancient Rome is now available from Carina Press.
When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit www.georgie-lee.com for more information about Georgie and her novels.