Inspiration can come from funny places. It can be from reading a newspaper article, or hearing a song on the radio, or simply seeing the way people act with each other on the train in the morning. If you’re attuned to it, inspiration can strike from anywhere.
Or alternatively, you can just seek out things that you know will inspire you. In fact, it’s likely to inspire you so much, that it feels like you’re stealing this inspiration, that you’re running into the distance with inspiration crammed under your arms.
That’s precisely how I feel about the HOLLYWOOD & CRIME podcast.
I picked it up wanting to love it and love it undoubtedly do. It is filling all my spare waking moments.
More than once, on this blog and elsewhere, I’ve written about how much I enjoy the fiction of James Ellroy and Megan Abbott. Particularly how their Hollywood noir stories have informed my own Screen Siren Noir series. Well, this is like a true crime audio version of those novels.
The first series – which I’ve nearly finished – tells the story of The Black Dahlia murder. A crime which has already had masses of coverage (not least by James Ellroy), but it tells it in a way which feels fresh and dramatic and vibrant.
Fresh and dramatic and vibrant, even as it takes a well-worn tale and apes old radio and seventy years of noir.
So rather than the narrator (the excellent, deadpan, Tracy Pattin) giving a precis of what one cop said to another, instead we cut-away to a dramatic re-enactment where one actor says cop dialogue in a very 1940s way of speaking and another actor responds. How accurate it is, I don’t know, but it’s undeniably convincing.
I had no idea that Elizabeth Short – The Black Dahlia – was one of half a dozen black haired women who were murdered in LA in this period. This podcast doesn’t just tell her story, but their largely forgotten stories as well. Giving a fresh take on the material and making the listener feel the panic rising on the streets of LA.
I’ve burned through the episodes the last week, racing to the conclusion. It’s not perfect (the Londoner in me finds myself coughing “Jack the Ripper” whenever the narrator asserts that The Black Dahlia is the world’s most infamous cold crime; and some of the theories mentioned are a bit of a stretch) but it’s still undoubtedly brilliant.
Once again, I wish I knew LA better so that I could slip seamlessly into the crime writing which has such a great history out there. The seedy underbelly of the glamour of Hollywood.
Oh well, I’m sure I can make do with London. We have quite a good history of crime writing ourselves…
Fancy reading my noir fiction? An extract from my novel, DIANA CHRISTMAS is available here!