Friday, December 19, 2014

KPCC's "Serial" Season 1 finale and debrief at the Crawford Family Forum

A lively conversation on the complex legal, ethical and journalistic issues raised by the podcast Serial was held on December 18, 2014 at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum, following a communal listen to the final episode of the series. Topics of discussion at the packed event included the discomfort some audience members felt in experiencing the story of a young woman's murder as entertainment, troubling aspects about the legal case against Adnan Syed and the bizarre plea deal offered to Jay Wilds, and the impact of semi-moderated internet sleuthing on the real people impacted by the case.  From left to right are attorney Alan Jackson (Partner with Brown White & Newhouse LLP and former Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office), attorney Lisa Kang (Alternate Public Defender for Los Angeles County), moderators Kristen Muller (KPCC managing editor of news) and Sanden Totten (science reporter) and crime historian and novelist Kim Cooper (Esotouric /The Kept Girl).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday gifts... on the noir side

Stumped for what to give the true crime and mystery lover in your life?

Perhaps a personalized, autographed copy of The Kept Girl, Kim Cooper's critically-acclaimed novel of 1929 Los Angeles featuring the young Raymond Chandler on the trail of a cult of murderous angel worshippers, would fit the bill. The book is just $14.99 (plus shipping + tax, where applicable), or $24.99 for the deluxe edition in silver-foiled Art Deco wraps.

There's also The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles, which is the perfect size to slip into a stocking or into a holiday card envelope, and which author Kim Cooper can inscribe on request. The map is $10 postpaid in the US, $14 elsewhere.

And for those visiting or lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, there's a seasonal sale on gift certificates for Esotouric's award-winning bus adventures, each of them hosted or co-hosted by author Kim Cooper.

To order your holiday gifts and ensure quick shipment before the holidays, just make a list of what you'd like, and email to reserve.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Raymond Chandler's Secret

When I hopped the fence from true crime to historical fiction, I couldn't anticipate that my background research would uncover a completely unknown musical comedy libretto by Raymond Chandler that shatters the familiar narratives of his late-life literary career and legendary marriage. But I am so, so grateful that it did.

In The Guardian, Sarah Weinman shares the story of my discovery of the comic operetta The Princess and the Pedlar, and why the Chandler Estate would rather you didn't know about it. If you'd like to help me stage this remarkable show in Los Angeles, please click here.

Friday, November 28, 2014

In memory of Bob Baker

Farewell to my brilliant, sweet friend Bob Baker, master puppeteer, native son, educator, enthusiast. With him goes so much knowledge of L.A. lore!

I'll treasure the memory of our last visit, when I read to him from the first chapter of my novel. He said he thought I'd succeeded in capturing the feeling of the 1929 Los Angeles he remembered, and I replied that talking with him over the years had helped. 

Strings down, now. No funeral--only joy in his memory. Go do something daring and delightful, with a twinkle in your eye.    

Friday, November 14, 2014

Debuting the Book Trailer for "The Kept Girl"

Now you don't have to be a passenger on one of Esotouric's Los Angeles bus adventures to enjoy author Kim Cooper's lilting tones on this short video trailer that introduces the real-life cast of characters that people her debut mystery, The Kept Girl

Bruckman Rare Book Friends talk at Los Angeles Public Library

The Bruckman Rare Book Friends invited Kim Cooper and her husband Richard Schave to speak on November 2, 2014 at the Central branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. After presenting an inscribed copy of the deluxe first edition of her novel The Kept Girl to the library's Rare Books Department, Kim shared the weird story of the Great Eleven cult's activities, and how her research into Raymond Chandler's life and work revealed a way to fictionalize this notorious true crime narrative. Then Richard discussed the digital tools he used to design the 1940s pulp-style paperback and decorative wraps for the deluxe edition. As a bonus, architectural historian Nathan Marsak made a surprise appearance, assisting Richard with an overview the demolished Victorian neighborhood of Bunker Hill.

Photo: John Okanishi  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sisters in Crime discuss Noir Fiction at Burbank's Buena Vista Branch Library

A panel on noir fiction featuring members of the Los Angeles branch of Sisters in Crime was held on October 8, 2014 at Burbank's Buena Vista Branch Library. Topics of discussion included the importance of tiny filler newspaper stories in inspiring fictional plots, whether contemporary writing can truly be noir, and the topics too grim for even the hardest-boiled fiction.  From left to right are moderator Craig Faustus Buck (Psycho Logic)  and mystery scribes Gary Phillips (The Essex Man: 10 Seconds to Death),  Kim Cooper (The Kept Girl) and Christopher J. Lynch (One Eyed Jack).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Meet Thomas H. James, a likely model for Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe

When J. Kingston Pierce was writing about The Kept Girl for Kirkus, he conducted a lengthy email interview with author Kim Cooper about the source material and inspirations behind the book.

Once the Kirkus feature was posted, the interview appeared on The Rap Sheet blog.

The section below focuses on Kim's discovery of Thomas H. James as a likely model for the Philip Marlowe character.

With the exception of Thomas H. James' photograph, these images from his pamphlet Chief Steckel Unmasked (1931) have never before been seen online.

JKP: You allude in the Acknowledgements section of your novel to a “scarce self-published pamphlet,” 1931’s Chief Steckel Unmasked, by investigator Thomas H. James, which you suggest “showed him to be a very likely model for Chandler’s white knight detective, Philip Marlowe …” How did James’ pamphlet convince you of that investigator’s influence on Chandler? Did the two men know one other?

KC: When my old ’zine world pal Lynn Peril--that’s her on the cover of RE/Search’s Zines! Vol.1--gifted me with Chief Steckel Unmasked, I immediately turned to ProQuest to see what the L.A. Times had to say about the interesting fellow who had written and self-published it.

It turns out Thomas H. James … was famous for preaching civic reform from his LAPD beat at Seventh and Broadway--the same intersection where, a few years later, the “Cafeteria Kid,” Clifford Clinton, would effect the recall of corrupt L.A. Mayor Frank Shaw.

[James] was perhaps more famous for his flamboyant attention to service while helping people cross the street, being featured in a Los Angeles Times column by Ben S. Lemmon about the lively intersection that ran in April 1929. James would be reassigned to the deep San Fernando Valley, then fired in 1931 for bad-mouthing the mayor and police chief to a couple of undercover investigators. His pamphlet followed this sting operation.

Chandler’s office was two blocks to the west of Seventh and Broadway. Did they know each other? Know of each other? Circumstantial evidence suggests they easily could have. At the time, of course, James was much more famous than Chandler.

Thomas James was the first person who suggested the possibility of a “real-life Philip Marlowe.” My husband, Richard, has since built a list of such characters, including [homicide detective] Aldo Corsini and George Contreras [once an investigator with the L.A. district attorney’s office]. They’re tarnished and conflicted men, but fascinating ones, and in researching their careers we’ve learned a lot about the very odd ways in which the police, vice, and politics intersected in Prohibition-era Los Angeles.

The longer we looked into Chandler, the more winking tributes to real people we found in his writing. I’m particularly proud of sleuthing out the source of the name “Treloar Building” from The Lady in the Lake [1943], a nod to the athletic director at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. He sets murders in real buildings and builds entire plots around real crimes. Why shouldn’t Philip Marlowe be a real person, or a composite of several?

Finally, there’s the little matter of Chandler’s [1935] short story “Spanish Blood,” which is based on David Clark’s notorious shooting of gambling boss Charlie Crawford and Herbert Spencer in May 1931. Spencer published a muckraking political magazine with which Thomas James may have had an affiliation. Clark worked for the D.A.’s office, and had prosecuted Albert Marco in the [1928] Ship CafĂ© shooting. The backlash from the Marco case was what led to Thomas James’ removal from the [L.A.] Police Commission investigator’s roll and his demotion to beat cop. At Clark’s trial, James testified that Clark had asked him to intercede with Spencer on behalf of gambling boss Guy McAfee, who supported Clark’s political ambitions. James later sent a letter to the Los Angeles Times, thanking them for not smearing Spencer posthumously, as other papers had.

The connections are there, and they run deep.

JKP: What did James go on to do later in his life, post-1920s?

KC: After fighting for and winning the right to return to police work, James retired early and got back into journalism, publishing a trade magazine for police officers. He married a society woman who shared his prohibitionist interests, and was living in a very nice house in Glendale at the time of his premature death in 1949.

JKP: Wait, what do you mean James “got back into journalism”? Did he work as a journalist before signing on with the L.A. force?

KC: I consider his self-published pamphlet to be journalism, but there is also a strong probability that Tom James clandestinely provided information to the muckraking journal The Critic of Critics before he was drummed out of the force.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Presenting: The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles, a guide to the usual & unusual

What a kick it is to announce the publication of my second collaboration with Paul Rogers, a fold-out map of the city where Raymond Chandler lived and wrote. Paul slyly tells the tale of the project's genesis here. It is published by Herb Lester. If you'd like to purchase the map from me, click here. Also available: my novel featuring the young Chandler, The Kept Girl (Paul Rogers' and my first collaboration), or the vintage 1985 Aaron Blake Chandler map. Amazon also carries the new map, and Herb Lester does, too.

ABOUT THE RAYMOND CHANDLER MAP: The map's graphic style is inspired by the Dell Map Backs -- a series of cheap paperbacks issued between 1943 and 1951, most featuring a crime scene map on the back cover. It mixes locations from the books, the films and Chandler’s personal life. There’s the crummy dive where Moose Malloy went looking for Velma (Murder, My Sweet / Farewell, My Lovely); the actual lounge where Marlowe and Terry Lennox ordered gimlets (The Long Goodbye); the top-floor suite where oil executive Chandler got his priceless education in how a dirty, sun-drenched city really operated. It’s an insider's guide to the city Chandler knew, and can still be visited today.

Paul selected fifty iconic locations and designed the handsome two-sided map with its evocative spot illustrations: neon signs, lonesome cocktails, towering palms, rain-drenched death houses, and alternate covers for each of Chandler's novels. I wrote the accompanying narrative, fifty pocket entries revealing unexpected lore about the real-life inspirations behind Chandler's fictional crimes and how the writer navigated Philip Marlowe's city.

With map in hand, an armchair tourist can follow Philip Marlowe's investigations from Downtown to Hollywood, to the fictional Bay City (Santa Monica) and Idle Valley (Encino). Or they can hop into the car and visit some of the 27 actual locations -- each one handily marked with Raymond Chandler's spectacles -- or one of fifteen places where the writer lived. And four times a year, they can consult the map while joining me on an Esotouric bus adventure through Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles, comparing the real places to Paul Rogers' Art Deco illustrations.

The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles is a must for fans of Raymond Chandler, Los Angeles architecture, contemporary illustration and the intersections between fact and fiction that color the best in noir literature. Why not make it part of your library today?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Femme Fatales, Hardboiled Dames and Dragon Tattoos: Examining and Expanding the Female Archetype in Noir panel at West Hollywood Public Library

A panel on hard- and soft-boiled female detectives in contemporary California fiction was held on September 27, 2014 at West Hollywood Public Library, as part of an all day celebration of everything Noir.

From left to right are mystery scribes Kim Cooper (The Kept Girl), Steph Cha (Beware, Beware), Rachel Howzell Hall (Land of Shadows) and moderator Paula L. Woods (Strange Bedfellows). (Not pictured is Raymond Chandler, whose ears must have been burning, if he still has ears.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kept Girl Kept Days book sale

When I plotted The Kept Girl, I chose to set the action over seven sweltering summer days in late August/early September, 1929.

To commemorate the first occurrence of this literary anniversary since the book's publication, the Kindle edition will be deeply discounted on Amazon, starting, just as the book does, on August 29 at 99 cents and running through September 4, when the Great Eleven cult's secrets are revealed and the price reverts back to $4.99 retail around the witching hour.

And while the paperback isn't on sale, if you buy a copy directly from Esotouric Ink during these dates, we'll be happy to send you an ebook edition for free, and we'll throw in a pretty packet of The Kept Girl cast of characters cards in Art Deco wraps, so you can see the real faces behind the fiction. I hope you'll take advantage of the Kept Days Sale--and please, tell a book-loving friend.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Noir California: The Masters of 20th Century Crime Fiction panel at Pasadena Central Library

A lively noir-themed conversation before an engaged audience of book lovers was held on Thursday, July 31, 2014. 

From left to right, apparently having spotted a clue, are Julie M. Rivett (granddaughter and keeper of the literary flame of Dashiell Hammett), Kim Cooper (author of The Kept Girl, representing Raymond Chandler studies), moderator and mystery novelist Denise Hamilton and Tom Nolan (mystery critic for The Wall Street Journal and biographer of Ross MacDonald). 

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Kept Girl is Featured Review in LAPL Reads

Dome and globe lamp, LAPL Central Rotunda. 

When I was growing up in Hollywood, the library was my lifeline to a world of visionary ideas and weird lore--a world far more exciting than my daily reality. 

I understood intellectually that kids in other places would think it was thrilling to be an intern at Francis Coppola's Zoetrope Studios, or take afternoon tea with Elizabeth Montgomery's hair stylist (my downstairs neighbor), to shop for punk badges at Vinyl Fetish or to walk down Hollywood Boulevard at dawn and almost step on a pile of what sure looked like human brains. 

And don't get me wrong, those were all interesting experiences, some of them even pleasurable. But they were small change compared to the vast worlds of possibility revealed in the pages of books, and the hundreds of years of recorded history in suspended animation within them. 

It only took me a couple of years to exhaust the holdings of the little Will and Ariel Durant Branch around the corner from my apartment on Gardner--it would have been quicker if they didn't hold occasional sales, where they sold off offbeat stuff, like Pat Loud's autobiography, for a quarter. 

And this created a problem, because my mother had expressly forbidden me to go Downtown, which was where the main branch of the L.A. Public Library was. When I asked her why, she just shook her head and said it was too dangerous. 

My mother had grown up in Los Angeles, and had seen Downtown decline from a thriving commercial center to a pretty scary and desolate place, where a horror movie like The Omega Man could be filmed without much set dressing. The topic wasn't open for discussion. Downtown was off the table, and so was the notion of getting my book fix at LAPL Central.

Which is how I found myself slipping off after school, boarding a Sunset Boulevard bus, and finding my way to corner of Fifth and Flower. Central Library was huge and beautiful and the shelves were packed with more books than I had ever seen in my life, all for the browsing. History, Literature, Poetry, Science, Art, Music. I ran among the stacks like a starving dog, mindful only of the need to get home before my mother did.

I guess there must have been people in the library, maybe even some scary ones, but I didn't see them and I certainly didn't talk to them. I checked out the maximum number of titles allowed and toddled back to the bus with the first of many ziggurats of precious printed paper. I hid the books with their tell-tale branch stamps under the bed, read them all and went back for more.

Today, I wish I could grab my own little bookworm's head and say "Get your nose out of those pages--look around at this beautiful Downtown, ungentrified, almost untouched! Go out the back door of the library and see BIOLA's gorgeous auditorium beneath the JESUS SAVES neon. Walk over to Broadway and into the cafeterias--woodsy Clifton's and Finney's, inside the Dutch Chocolate Shop. See a kung-fu movie in one of the vast film palaces. Or venture as far as Main Street, where the adult book shops will sell you exploitation paperbacks and pin-ups of women with massive beehive hairdos for a dime. Look around, you little dope! This won't be here forever!" 

But no, all I cared about then was books. And LAPL Central was the center of my world. And that's why I am so honored today that The Kept Girl, my novel about this lost Downtown Los Angeles that I've grown up to love and make my living talking about, is the Featured Review in LAPL Reads, the editorial arm of LAPL Central. And as of this morning, there is one copy of The Kept Girl available for check out from that beautiful branch. I hope a bookish little kid checks it out and hides it from her parents!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Come, Let us Party Like Book Patrons Do!

photo: J. Scott Smith

Writing a book is a lonesome experience -- at least it is for me.

When I'm at my desk, whether plotting, hacking out a paragraph, or deep in the archival research that informs my historic narratives, it feels like I'm completely alone in the world. My subjects have been dead for decades, their homes and offices bulldozed or forever transformed, even the language they use is different from how we speak today.

When I do my job right, I've got one foot so far in the past that a ringing telephone is just as startling as if it were breaking into a dream. It's a sort of time travel, with no room for a sidekick to tag along. And brutally hard as the work is, I love the feeling of being transported for a while.

I'm told that there are writers who thrive on workshopping. They share the day's pages with their loved ones at the dinner table, or bring new chapters to writer's groups for feedback and inspiration.

Even typing those words out makes my skin crawl. I think of a work-in-progress as an ugly little bundle of raw nerves, wrong words and half-baked ideas. It has to metaphorically settle, spend some time in the rock tumbler, sit on the counter with a wet cloth on top, be examined with a magnifying loupe, take a couple hundred trips around the block and generally be worked to death and back again before I'd dream of subjecting anyone else to its company.

The Kept Girl took about a year and a half to write and edit, preceded by six years of sporadic research into the true crimes featured within. It was only in the last six months that I began sharing what I had with trusted readers and incorporating their feedback.

And then, rather suddenly, it was finished. The book was set in print, final edits were made to ensure the paragraphs flowed prettily, the covers were printed, the pages were folded and trimmed and bound, the Art Deco wraps (video link) produced for the Subscribers' edition and my oft-tumbled little baby was sent out into the world.

Then a couple of months later, it was time for a party. The Kept Girl was published by the subscription method, with 65 generous and gracious readers supporting the project through their advance purchase of the deluxe edition. Their belief in the project was enormously encouraging, and I wanted to do something really nice to reward their faith and celebrate what we had accomplished together.

The Subscribers' Appreciation Party brought about half of that charmed body together for an afternoon's walking tour, followed by cake, wine and conversation upstairs at Figaro Bistro in Downtown Los Angeles.

This pretty place was formerly the historic Schaber's Cafeteria and is the home of our monthly LAVA Sunday Salon. It's always a pleasure to host a gathering in this room, but this one felt different, more charged.

David Smay gives a tug.
photo: Chinta Cooper

We began the festivities at the southeast corner of 6th and Hill Streets, to see the handsome doorway that inspired the design of the deluxe edition wraps. This was the first in a series of stops highlighting the real locations featured in the novel, and in the life and work of my hero, Raymond Chandler.

photo: J. Scott Smith

At Sixth and Olive we visited the Oviatt Building, which Chandler called the Treloar in The Lady in the Lake, in tribute to the Harvard-educated bodybuilder who ran the gym at the Los Angeles Athletic Club a block away.

photo: J. Scott Smith

Although the Art Deco entryway lost much of its historic glass when Oviatt lost his mind in the 1960s and sold it off to an admirer for $50, it remains a powerful portal into the jazz age city, and we were grateful for the opportunity to peep inside the stunning, and largely unchanged, retail floor which Chandler called the Gillerlain Company and where today you can dine and dance at the Cicada Club.

photo: J. Scott Smith

At Seventh and Olive, we admired the ruined hulk of the Bank of Italy, the Romanesque masterpiece where Chandler worked as an executive with the Dabney Oil Syndicate through the 1920s. It was the 1929 fraud complaint made by Dabney's nephew that sparked the investigation into the Great Eleven cult that revealed the terrible secrets that form my novel's core. The building is, despite its long neglect and the foul odors in its windbreak doorways, still very beautiful. We all said a small prayer that it might be sold to kinder owners and reopened one day.

photo: Chinta Cooper

Across the street, we gazed up at the windows of the Athletic Club, where Chandler listened in as big and often brutal deals were made by the kings of old Los Angeles, and where I spent many hallucinatory hours in the sauna, tapping into the rhythms of the lost city to write the dialogue for The Kept Girl.

photo: J. Scott Smith

Then out along 7th Street, in the panicked footsteps of my fictional Ray, as he races off to tell his policeman friend Tom James that Muriel Fischer, Ray's brave secretary and mistress, is in danger among the cultists. We stopped at Saint Vincent Court, the historic pathway with its many layers of Los Angeles history. In the book, Tom plants Ray among the trash cans while he alerts headquarters that another cop is needed on his beat.

Our next stop was 7th & Broadway, where Tom was stationed, and preached his gospel of civic reform, some years before "Cafeteria Kid" Clifford Clinton would take up the mantle and brave police-sanctioned bombings to get a crooked Mayor recalled. Although somewhat famous in his day, Tom's bravery had been forgotten until my friend Lynn Peril gave me a copy of his self-published whistleblower pamphlet. It's a strange, good, feeling to stand at "his" corner and share the story of Tom's belief in a fair and ethical Los Angeles.

The remainder of our walk took us up one of the handsomest blocks on Broadway, along the decorative terrazzo paths and beneath the theatrical marquees that would have been so familiar to the young Chandler.

We returned to Figaro's mezzanine to find a lovely spread of bread, cheese and meat selections, and glasses of wine for toasting, awaiting us.

The afternoon continued with a delightful party, as folks split off into smaller groups to talk, snack and examine "trading cards" from the novel that I'd prepared so they could see what the real life characters actually looked like. I signed a few books and answered questions, and got a chance to hear what some of my guests, who are quite a creative bunch, had been working on.
photo: J. Scott Smith

Figaro's owner, Jonathan Mgaieth, had prepared a beautiful and sinfully delicious berry custard confection on a dark chocolate base, with an edible marzipan inscription. It was like he'd peeked into my soul and found the perfect dessert to share with such a special group of people. The flavor profile evoked my late grandmother Becky's signature Trifle Pudding, while the sophisticated presentation was the thing to please my Francophile grandma (and famous Yelper) Cutie.

photo: J. Scott Smith

When the time came to cut into the cake, Subscriber Jerry Joseph surprised me by lifting a glass of wine and making a very beautiful toast, thanking me for conjuring up this lost world and bringing him and so many nice people along for the ride. It was such a gracious toast. I felt so grateful, and at a loss for words.
photo: J. Scott Smith

Then Richard, my wonderful husband who believed in this book long before I did, and who has so generously given of his time and talent to nurse it into being, cut into the cake and passed the pieces around, to much oo-ing and ah-ing. Conversation stopped, then bubbled up again, and all too soon it was getting to be time for folks to be going.

photo: J. Scott Smith

We all gathered then for a group photo, before splitting off into our component parts, having come together to celebrate a little tale with a long history, and 65 goodhearted heroes whose faith helped make it soar. And as I packed up the last bit of cake to enjoy at home with my family, I laughed aloud for ever having thought it lonesome to write this book.
* * *
See all of J. Scott Smith's photos here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The delights of print

It was exciting to click the link to "Models for Marlowe," Michael Paraskos' kind review of The Kept Girl in The Spectator, but that paled beside opening up the actual magazine, and finding dreamy John Gielgud moping above me on the page.

Thanks for the hard copy, MP!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Case of the Storybook Book Club

It's a little unusual for an author to attend a meeting of a book club that's discussing her latest book, but what is there to say but "you bet!" when the request comes from one of the prettiest storybook houses in Los Angeles?

So last night, I took The Kept Girl show on the road, for an evening of scintillating dinnertime conversation surrounding 1920s Los Angeles, the young Raymond Chandler, cults, judicial appeals, archival research and the joys and frustrations of independent publishing.

I was the guest of a wonderful group of Westside women who have been gathering to talk about books for 25 years. They don't typically read mysteries, or books set in Los Angeles, so I was honored that they put The Kept Girl on their list.

Our hostess, Martha, set a beautiful and clever table dotted with a selection of packaged foods that were available in the 1920s. We began with Waldorf Salad. Dessert, naturally, was Jell-O.

I brought along little packets of photos of the real-life characters who appear in the book, wrapped in a replica of the limited edition art deco slipcase. It's fun to share these faces, which I've lived with for so many long hours, with folks who have only met them in the novel. I didn't take a formal poll, but it appeared that Raymond Chandler (at 12 o'clock) and Manly P. Hall (at 3 o'clock) were tied for book club dreamboat status.

The night ended with a lively discussion about the group's summer reads, and the gift of this lovely bouquet of purple hyacinth flowers from our hostess' daughter, Alissa. Their perfume today reminds me of a very sweet night.

Is your book club interested in reading The Kept Girl? Esotouric Ink offers discounted copies for group orders, and can provide discussion questions on request.   

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Printing "The Kept Girl" - Behind the Scenes Footage

Writers, readers: did you ever wonder how the book on your shelf was made? This four-part video series (with a new episode published daily from April 8-11, 2014) reveals the secrets of modern offset printing, through the process of printing The Kept Girl, a neo-noir novel from Esotouric Ink.

The Kept Girl is crime historian Kim Cooper's acclaimed debut mystery, starring the young Raymond Chandler, his devoted secretary and the real L.A. cop who is a likely model for Philip Marlowe, all on the trail of a cult of murderous angel worshippers.

Although The Kept Girl was printed using modern offset press technology, the book has a look and feel inspired by the pulp fiction of the 1940s. It needed a printer who understood what Esotouric Ink was aiming for, and would let them be part of the production process to ensure the book hit its unusual aesthetic marks.

In this four-part series, you are up close and personal at Tower-Lee Company, the oldest family-run printing concern in Los Angeles, watching inner pages and cover wraps of "The Kept Girl" come off the offset press and pass through the folding machine, as well as watching a test run of the hand-crafted Art Deco decorative wraps created for the deluxe edition, and learning how this neo-noir novel was crafted in the digital age.

Visit us daily for a link to each new episode.

Day One: The Guts (published April 8, 2014)
Day Two: Color Covers & The Folding Machine (published April 9, 2014)
Day Three: Decorative Wraps for the Deluxe Edition (published April 10, 2014)
Day Four: Interview with the printer (published April 11, 2014)

The Tower-Lee Company's website. For a printing quote call Gary (323) 890-1000.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Kim Cooper's blog tour guest posts

All through February, Kim Cooper was on a virtual blog tour celebrating the launch of her debut mystery novel, The Kept Girl. Along with interviews, excerpts book reviews, the tour included five original essays placed on bookish blogs:

Plus one more, post tour: a Largehearted Boy Book Notes playlist highlighting music that inspired the story.