Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Ultimate Femme Fatale by Denise Hamilton

I'm so excited to have Denise Hamilton at Book Den today! Be sure to check out the awesome giveaway where one lucky reader will have a chance to win a copy of Damage Control!

LOS ANGELES – The Ultimate Femme Fatale

I watched a lot of old black & white movies as a kid -- the kind where women wear stilettos and satin gowns and men in fedoras work in Venetian-blind’d offices off Hollywood Boulevard and keep a bottle in the bottom drawer (next to the gun) …

There was a doomed glamour to this world that I loved. The cars were big and streamlined, the nightclubs elegant, and the characters all hid shady pasts and secrets. And usually somebody wound up dead.

When I grew up, I became a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. I wore black pencil-thin skirts and heels and hiked through many a dark alley, imagining I was a character in a classic movie. The cars were smaller now and no one wore fedoras except as ironic fashion statements, but some of my colleagues still kept bottles in the bottom drawer. And each day, I drove the mean streets, interviewing starlets and cops and street venders and homeless guys and crooked politicians. And when somebody wound up dead, I wrote about it.

Slowly, fictional L.A. and real L.A. began to merge.

The entire city was a movie set to me, with 20 noir, surreal, crazy wild movies all shooting at once.

Sometimes literally shooting.

Is it any wonder I became a crime writer?

In my books, I try to convey the dark glamour of the city I first glimpsed through celluloid as a child, a city that continues to bewitch and obsess me as an adult. Los Angeles is like a bad boyfriend, cheating on you, breaking promises, then falling on bended knee to win you back.

Stay! pleads Los Angeles. And I shall untangle the traffic, blow away the smog, fix the A/C for summer and find you a large affordable apartment in a cool Art Deco building.

Or maybe L.A. is more like a femme fatale, wooing you with come-hither promises of wealth, fame and beauty. The sugar white sands, the swaying palms, the giant birds of paradise and bougainvilla and beautiful golden people. You know it’s a cliche, but you’re a sap who falls for it anyway.

Maggie Silver, the heroine of my new novel Damage Control, knows it better than most. She works for a high-profile PR firm in LA so she’s in the image business. She does “crisis management” for hedge fund managers, celebrities and athletes who get into trouble. But as the book opens, she’s just landed an important new client -- a U.S. Senator whose beautiful young aide has been found murdered.

To up the stakes, the senator is the father of Maggie’s glamorous but troubled girlhood friend Annabelle. Our heroine hasn’t seen Annabelle since high school, when something awful happened on the beach one night that ruined their friendship and still haunts them.

Now, Maggie’s about to come face-to-face with her past.

And the line between reality and illusion is about to fray.

Maggie used to idolize her best friend’s Dad.

Now she wants desperately to believe him.

And she needs to keep her job.

But slowly, she begins to suspect that nobody is telling the truth.

And that everybody has something to hide.

As Maggie walks the tightrope, desperate to find someone she can trust, she moves through a city of grit and glamour, of beauty and wealth, where evil lies in the shadows cast by the gleaming skyscrapers, the purple-blossomed jacaranda, the white sands of surf noir where innocence is shattered.

The plot is pure fiction. But as the book went to print, the Arnold Schwarzenegger love child scandal broke. I picture the Terminator, in his big gorgeous house a stone’s throw from the Pacific, brooding over his ruined marriage and reputation.

What a person might do to keep such a deeply buried secret from coming out?

That’s the stuff of fiction.

It’s got elements of betrayal, horror, banality, hubris and grotesquery. It rips apart the illusions that rich and powerful people like to cloak themselves in and reveals the sordid reality that roils beneath.

Set against the backdrop of the Westside’s wealthy walled compounds, it’s a perfect L.A. story.

But one so far-fetched that my literary agent would have kicked it back to me if I’d submitted it.

“Too unbelievable,” she’d scoff.

But then, she doesn’t live in L.A. like I do.

Denise Hamilton can also be found at www.denisehamilton.com.

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Damage Control, be sure to fill out this form! (This contest is limited to US only.) I will leave this contest open until Saturday, September 10. The winner will be contacted on Sunday, September 11 to provide a US mailing address.

Update: This contest is now closed. Congratulations Rebecca @ Bending The Spine!


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  1. Wow very interesting post. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  2. Nice blog Jennifer! This seems like an interesting read. Thanks for stopping by blog and for this awesome giveaway!:)


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