Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Author Lloyd Lofthouse - guest post - My Splendid Concubine

Yesterday, The Real Hollywood’s Book Chat spoke with Lloyd Lofthouse author of the historical fiction novel, My Splendid Concubine. In his interview Lloyd shared with us his favorite actors for film and television. As a California native we asked him to share his experiences growing up in Southern California.

About the Book:

Driven by a passion for his adopted country, Robert Hart became the “godfather of China’s modernism,” inspector general of China’s Customs Service, and the builder of China’s railroads, postal and telegraph systems, and schools, but his first real love is Ayaou, a young concubine.

Good morning Lloyd,

Thank you for having me here at The Real Hollywood. There is so much about California that I love. I was born in Pasadena on VJ day, so I’m a California native. Dad was drunk and celebrating but not about me being born. The week before, he’d been drafted to report to the army to train for the Japan invasion. A nurse talked him into adding “Victory” as one of my middle names.

During my childhood, dad loved driving into the local mountains to camp. His favorite was Hart Bar campground near Big Bear Lake. We slept in an army surplus tent. Mornings were filled with the scent of frying bacon, eggs and potatoes cooked in a heavy, black, cast iron skillet over a campfire. These trips took place before California was webbed with freeways. We took roller coaster rides on two lane roads to reach the mountains. As a matter of fact, the first freeway in the nation (possibly the world) was built in Pasadena. California has always been a trend setter that way.

California had one of the first national parks, the Angeles National Forest where I’ve hiked in the San Gabriel Mountains. I’ve also backpacked into the Sierras near Mammoth Mountain where I’ve skied. I’ve skied most of the Southland too—once in a blizzard. On one backpacking trip, we hiked through hip deep snow to Duck Lake. A storm blanketed the area the week before and our tracks were the first in that white blanket.

Most of my youth was spent in a town nestled against the foothills in the San Gabriel Valley. I graduated from Glendora High School. I have fond memories of crossing the street from my parent’s house to reach the grove and pick sweet, juicy tree-ripe oranges—something rare today. My first car was an 1854 Buick Century. I wished I still had it. Here’s a poem I wrote about that first car. The poem shows what it was like to be young.
Dinosaur Driving

At fifteen in 1960
I hated the three-ton T-Rex
From the start,
That day my dad said
It was the only one
I could own.

Ready to please
Like a pooch,
She was a smiling,
Toothy fifty-four
Blue and white,
Four door,
With bench seats,
A soon-to-be classic.

When the brakes gave out
Screeching like fingernails
Across blackboards,
We leaped out
Pushing backwards
Stopping the Rhino from
Rolling through red lights.

When the timing went,
The dragon belched blue flames
Scorching the underside
Of the hood.

With the hood off,
That topless
Playboy centerfold
Rolled like a tumbleweed
Through back streets.

Mike, precariously perched,
On the fender
Adjusted the carburetor
With a long necked screwdriver
Leaning back to
Avoid flaming eruptions.

Passing a school-bus stop,
The serpent belched fire
Scattering children like
Frightened autumn leaves
Running from a cyclone.

She never failed us
Cruising Hollywood & Vine
Weekend Nights
Trolling for female kind.

It didn’t matter that we
Never met anyone.
The old gal kept moving
Gulping gas by the quarter,
A willing accomplice.

On New Year’s Eve
We sailed down Pasadena’s
Colorado Blvd
Desperate to share
Bench seats
With strangers in skirts
Gliding by party people
Waiting through the night
For the Rose Parade.

A Benedict Arnold,
I eventually
Betrayed my coach,
Into an unwanted,
Over the hill
Halloween pumpkin
At midnight
Recycled into trashcans.

MY SPLENDID CONCUBINE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '09 will officially begin on December 1 and end on January 30. You can visit Lloyd's blog stops at in December and January to find out where he is appearing!

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