Saturday, 24 May 2014

GUEST BLOG: The Shill by John Shepphird

The talented and prolific Tony Black is gracious enough to shine a light on my Los Angeles noir.  It’s a caper and twisted love story inspired by noir master James M. Cain – tense, terse, and titillating.

Struggling actress Jane Innes is seduced by Cooper, the handsome arrival in her acting class. He makes a proposition. He needs Jane to play a role — to pose as his wife in an intricate scam. Her task is to befriend the fiancee’ of a ruthless, international tycoon so Cooper can leverage his brilliant swindle.  Jane agrees without realizing she’s entering into a tangled maze of deception, depravity, and murder. Assuming the persona of a carefree heiress, Jane’s true identity threatens to surface and their scheme cracks at the seams. It’s a pressure-cooker to close the deal and becomes all too clear; not everything is as it appears.

Admittedly, I don’t read best sellers. I read page-turning pulp, vintage titles mostly. With The Shill I set out to write the kind of paperback one might find on a wire rack at a roadside truck stop. I live in Los Angeles (and work in television) so figured I’d write about what I know, Hollywood’s boulevards of broken dreams, the bottom-feeders, the desperation and blind ambition.

My lit hero James M. Cain wrote back-to-back noir classics with The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity back in the 1930s, in the middle of the Great Depression.  Why are these novellas such classics?  For me, it’s because his characters are so wonderfully flawed, his language so real.  I relate to them, and they do not feel dated. He sets them on a collision course and we get to hang on for the ride.

My hope is that readers “across the pond” find my homage to James M. Cain a fun and satisfying experience.  A special thanks goes out to Tony Black for featuring The Shill on his blog, brilliant commercial artist Roger Huyssen who designed the book cover, and my buddies who helped me make this book trailer.

:: John Shepphird is a Shamus Award winning crime writer & director of films for television including SyFy Channel originals “Jersey Shore Shark Attack” and “Chubacabra Terror.”  He serves as the Creative Director of On-Air Promotions for TVG, America’s television network devoted to horse racing.  Interests also include skiing, tennis, humor, close-up magic, mischief, and long lunches.

:: Buy on Amazon.

:: View the book trailer.