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.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kim Cooper explains the origins of "The Kept Girl"

Los Angeles Times, October 1929

I first encountered the Great Eleven cult while researching a true crime bus tour called Wild Wild West Side for EsotouricThe cult's mixture of esoteric absurdity, brutality and sex appeal was fascinating, and I accumulated a large file of press clippings and legal documents in an attempt to understand their motivations. Passengers on the tour were similarly captivated by the cult's bizarre antics, and quite moved when we paid a graveyard visit to their youngest victim, Willa Rhoads.

After a few excursions, all of Esotouric's West L.A. bus tours went on hiatus. But I didn't want to let the Great Eleven go. Another facet of their story fit in perfectly with my husband Richard's tour of Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: their most prominent financial victim was the nephew of Chandler's boss at the Dabney Oil Syndicate.

Raymond Chandler, circa 1920s

My other task on this tour was introducing Thomas H. James, a crusading Los Angeles policeman and likely model for Chandler's white knight detective Philip Marlowe.

The two narratives blended together as I shared my research—which grew to include James' scarce self-published pamphlet Chief Steckel Unmasked (a gift from the writer Lynn Peril) and writings and historic documents from the collection of Rick Baudé, whose mother is the last surviving member of the cult.

With each successive telling, I felt I understood the characters and their city better. I yearned to do something more with them, but what? How could I tell these concurrent, but not necessarily connected, stories outside of the specialized format of a bus tour?

Lonely old people—financial fraudsters—Raymond Chandler and his women—crooked politicians— idealistic cops—missing husbands—golden idols—the great bubble of boomtown Los Angeles about to burst—oil—alcohol—milk—blood. It all simmered together in my brain until, one day, I saw the pieces of the puzzle start to click into place, and the form they took was fiction.

It wasn't what had actually happened, but it absolutely could have been.

I set down mental pins representing the facts of the fraud against Clifford Dabney. Then I put Raymond Chandler and Thomas H. James on the set, and moved them among the other figures. I could feel the story meshing like the wheels inside a clock.

Chandler with Dorothy Fisher.

But there was something missing—or rather someone. If you know your Raymond Chandler, you know he was worthless without a smart secretary at his side. And so I created the character of Muriel Fischer, her name and aspects of her personality a nod to Chandler's Paramount Studios secretary Dorothy Fisher, who I was privileged to know at the end of her life.

Once Muriel was in the picture, everything came alive.

The result is The Kept Girl, my first novel. You can read the first few pages here.