Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On Cinematic Scenes, by Mary Reed, author of History #Mystery Novels

Some years ago I lived in Florida and the local cinema showed Gone With The Wind. Naturally I grabbed my chance to see it on the big screen. As the audience waited for the lights to go down, an elderly man took the seat next to me and remarked "Now we get to refight the Civil War".

Mentioning that Civil War comment to Eric recently reminded me of what I refer to as Cinematic Scenes, the topic of this blog. After all, why should he be the only one to suffer?

On holiday in the Lake District years ago, I discovered the local cinema was an upstairs room with benches and a whitewashed wall or perhaps one of those handy screens on a tripod -- the details have faded after all this time. Just about every cinema I've attended was on the second or third or even older run films circuit, and those shown in the upstairs room were no exception. The films were from the sixties, being Farenheit 451 based on the Bradbury novel and Die, Monster, Die! inspired by Lovecraft's Colour Out of Space.

Wherever I've lived, most of the famous films reached local cinemas eventually though as noted sometimes they took a while to show up. On an earlier occasion, I went to see Summer Holiday, a film later mercilessly spoofed in the closing sequence of the last episode of the alternative comedy series The Young Ones. I wasn't a particular fan of Cliff Richard but when it showed up I was keen to see my home city bespectabled lad Hank Marvin, since Cliff's group The Shadows were also featured.

The big disappointment came as the film drew to an end. There was the group, in traditional dress as worn by Greek ceremonial guards, complete with the kilt-like fustanella and black garters under the knees. They were to play what I hear was a redux of the title song, but I never found out because the group had hardly had time to twang a couple of notes and make a few steps when the film disappeared, most likely because the last busses across town would be off soon and the audience or possibly the projectionist didn't care to have to walk home.

Nor was I particularly fond of Elvis, so I'm at a loss to recall why I would go to see Blue Hawaii, unless it was because a friend wanted to see it but didn't want to go alone. This time the disappointment was more personal. I suddenly heard the familiar laugh of my Great Teen Crush and glancing around saw him a couple of rows back with his girlfriend. Well, we all remember how crushed we were when such things happened to us, do we not? I won't mention his name but if he should happen to see this blog, hello Mr Mohair Sweater Who Lived Up The Street!

A coda to this unhappy event. Years later, after I'd long since left the town, I was visiting my mother and as luck would have it met Mr Mohair Sweater again. He was waiting for the same bus as myself at the stop outside that very cinema. He still lived up the street from the old house and we chatted on the journey until I got off. Seeing him again after ten years or so we waxed nostalgic about the old days. If only I could have told my younger self one day I would talk to him again and not skip a single heartbeat!

Yet it wasn't all disasters. Whisper it quietly please, but three of us cut school one Friday afternoon and went to see the Lee/Cushing Dracula. We raved about it so much that the following week Mr. B, our much liked but notoriously hard-marking English teacher, included the topic of A Week In The Life of Dracula as one of three choices for our next essay. He marked ours so high we almost took his oft-quoted advice that, should we get above 8 or so, we were to go home and lie down.

A scene in our new WWII mystery Ruined Stones is set in a Newcastle cinema a five minute walk from where the Reed family lived at one time, but I'm happy to say that particular one was never the scene of a cinematic disappointment!

Eric Reed is a pseudonym for Mary Reed & Eric Mayer. They are the coauthors of eleven books in the John, the Lord Chamberlain series, set in 6th century Byzantium.

Ruined Stones, by Eric Reed
In December 1941, Grace Baxter, a new member of the Women's Auxiliary Police Corps, is posted to Newcastle-on-Tyne, northeast England. Her arrival coincides with the discovery of the body of a young woman, curiously difficult to identify, at the scanty ruins of a Roman temple situated across from a church. The bone-numbing cold, the fogs, and enemy bombing, not to mention the peculiar behavior of some of the citizens, test Grace's resolve to be an effective officer. There are many potential leads, and much suspicious behavior to sort through. What role do ancient rituals play in the murder and what follows? What current misbehavior or crimes is someone desperate to cover up? The investigation, carried out through fog and blackout and fear as well as the hostility of her colleagues, tests Grace's resolve to be an effective officer. Will it also endanger her life?

Twitter @marymaywrite

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