A.P. Jamison is one of the authors that will appear in Fatally Haunted, Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles’ upcoming 2019 anthology.
STORY TITLE: “Death of the Hollywood Sign Girl”
Haunted by bad news, a young man hikes up to the Hollywood Sign and is forever changed by what he witnesses there.
Q: What intrigued you about the theme of FATALLY HAUNTED that led to the story you wrote?
A: “Fatally” and “Haunted” grabbed me immediately. These two powerful words teased, taunted and tormented me by reminding me of a tragic Hollywood tale I had discovered while doing research for a noir mystery novel set in Los Angeles. After hearing about the “Fatally Haunted” contest, I thought of two additional words: “What” and “If,” and then “The Death of the Hollywood Sign Girl” started to unfold…
Q: Is your story a who-dunit, a why-dunit, or a how-dunit? Why did you make this choice?
A: My story is mostly a why-dunit. Once I completed the beat sheet – it sort of chose me.
Q: What is different about writing a short story? What did you learn from this experience?
A: For me, writing is like learning to juggle 60 craft balls at once (things like theme, plot, diction, details, atmosphere, arc, humor, habits, metaphors and morals). While honing these “juggling” skills, I have been laboring over my first novel for, let’s just say, longer than it takes to birth five African bush elephants.
This short story enabled me to forget about the novel for a bit and just focus on a beginning, middle and end that dared me to incorporate secrets, surprises, characters, conflicts and twists in under ten pages. I loved the beautiful, painful and delicious discipline of having to tell my whole story in these few pages. It was challenging on every writing level –but it was also empowering. After wrapping up my short, “Death of the Hollywood Sign Girl”, I was able to return to my novel, “Securities & Insecurities” with a fresh outlook and a renewed passion.
Q: How did your editor help you improve your story? What insights did you gain from working with her?
A: OMG. The amazing and awesome and wicked-smart Editor Sheila Lowe was fantastic. She was passionate, positive, kind, smart, savvy, insightful and detailed, but most of all, I loved her editing process. She understands the world of the writer (being one herself). She took the time to tell me what she loved about my story and writing style in detail before she started discussing any of the edits. I found this so helpful. She posed her notes as thoughtful questions so instead making me feel defensive or possessive about my work or words, she helped my brain get focused on crafting better answers and – her notes made the story stronger!
Sheila knows I am just a huge fan of hers and I will always be grateful for all she did. She truly rocks! (That said, lest anyone thinks that I didn’t go through lots of rounds of edits. I did. I had the great fortune to workshop the short story in my awesome writer’s group led by the fabulous Jerrilyn Farmer. Then I ran it by three trusted writing friends. As Hemingway liked to say, ‘The only kind of writing IS rewriting.’ And that’s what I did. A lot.)
Q: What’s next for you? What are you working on?
A: I am almost done with my first novel – “Securities & Insecurities.” It’s the first book in a trilogy about a socially awkward financial prodigy who gets herself hired into the most elite training program on Wall Street to prove that her best friend’s death was no accident. The mystery is set in the crazy, cash and cocaine 80’s, where working on Wall Street really could be murder… Additionally, I’m half way through an Irish fairy tale mystery, and then I’m going to finally tackle the noir Hollywood murder mystery that inspired my short story.
Q: What does your writing space look like?
A: I’m not sure how to answer this great question. There is the physical writing space that hosts a chair, a laptop, hot milk laced with coffee and cinnamon, and my neighbor’s golden retriever lounging by my side. Then there is the mental workspace that somewhat mimics a pinball machine on tilt on most days. So many images, ideas, words, thoughts on craft, plot, structure and story bang about in my brain. I’m always looking for solutions to the darling yet demanding daily writing challenges I face. One of my favorite professors, Neil Landau, once said: ‘Go to bed by asking yourself a question that needs answering in your story. When you wake up, you just might have the answer.’
Thank you for reading these answers, I hope you enjoy my short story: “Death of the Hollywood Sign Girl.” Now I must go to sleep to try and get more answers on my next writing endeavor… Hee Hee.
P.S. I would be woefully remiss, if I didn’t also properly thank the Sisters In Crime team: Shannon Muir Broden, Sue Ann Jaffarian, Micheal Kelly and Sheila Lowe, for all their amazing help, humor, support, responsiveness, wisdom, and kindness. I am grateful and honored to be part of the 2019 Sisters In Crime Anthology: “Fatally Haunted.”