Hi, Georgie, and thanks for being my guest! Georgie Lee’s newest historical romance, Studio Relations, released today in paperback and Kindle from Montlake Romance.
Congratulations on the release! Tell us a little about Studio Relations.
A vivacious female director and a handsome studio executive must overcome their professional differences to find love during Hollywood’s golden age.
Vivien Howard hasn’t forgiven Weston Holmes for almost derailing her career five years ago. Female directors in 1930s Hollywood are few and far between, and a man who coasts by on his good looks and family connections can’t possibly appreciate what it took for her to get to where she is. But when the studio head puts Weston in charge of overseeing Vivien’s ambitious Civil War film, she realizes she has a choice: make nice with her charismatic new boss or watch a replacement director destroy her dream.
Weston Holmes doesn’t know much about making movies, but he knows plenty about money. And thanks to the Depression, ticket sales are dangerously low. The studio can’t afford a flop—or bad press, which is exactly what threatens to unfold when an innocent encounter between Weston and Vivien is misconstrued by the gossip rags. The only solution? A marriage of convenience that will force the bickering duo into an unlikely alliance—and guide them to their own happy Hollywood ending.
What inspired this story?
My love of classic films and Gone with the Wind helped inspire this book. I knew from my film studies background that there were a few female directors working in Hollywood during the 1930s. While the major studios did employ women behind the scenes, women usually worked in publicity, writing or the costume shop. It was the rare female who stepped behind the camera, and she faced a number of obstacles, from demanding studio bosses to disapproving women’s groups. Also, the 1930s saw a great deal of change in Hollywood from the conversion to talkies to the introduction of the Hays Code, which dictated what could and could not appear on screen. Outside the studio gates, the Great Depression was raging and Europe was heading toward World War II. There was a lot of conflict both on the soundstage and off for me to play with. I touch on all these subjects in Studio Relations, but especially what it was like for a woman to work in a man’s world in 1935 Hollywood.
In Studio Relations, I also pay homage to my favorite film Gone with the Wind, by making the film Vivien directs a Civil War movie. I drew on my knowledge of Gone with the Wind’s production to help me make the scenes dealing with the production of Vivien’s film seem authentic to the time period. It was fun to pull from both my knowledge of classic Hollywood and Gone with the Wind to help make Studio Relations an engaging story.
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
I’m currently working on a couple of Regency romances for Harlequin. I also have a Regency-set novella coming out from Carina Press in July.
Can you share with us “the call” story?
My most exciting call came this summer. The day before the Romance Writers of America conference in Anaheim, I received the call from Harlequin Historical saying they wanted to purchase my Regency-set historical romance. It was an exciting way to kick off conference. I went to Anaheim, met a few Harlequin editors and found an agent. It was quite a summer!
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I don’t mind writing the first draft but I really love editing. I love going back over a story and finessing the language or working on character development, or finding ways to connect scenes and characters to one another or to bring out themes.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, character, or…?
I usually start with a specific scene in mind and then build the story out from there. I used to be a pantser, but now I really have to sit down and write a summary and work on my characters before I get too far into a story. Having a summary really helps me make the best use of my limited writing time.
Do you have a favorite time of day for writing?
I write first thing in the morning when the distractions are at a minimum and I am, for the most part, awake.
What is your favorite scene from this story and why?
My favorite scene from Studio Relations is the shotgun wedding scene. After a PR debacle, Vivien and Weston are forced to get married. The studio boss is in charge of making the arrangements and I had a blast helping him put it all together.
What do you like to read?
I am a voracious reader of non-fiction history. It’s where many of my ideas for historical romances come from and something I’ve always enjoyed. I have a large library of non-fiction books covering subjects from ancient Egypt to medicine, Regency England and classic Hollywood, to period costume and dance. There are very few topics or times periods that I am not interested in reading about.
These are few of my favorite things:
3. Period Piece Movies
Studio Relations by Georgie Lee
Available from Montlake Romance
Vivien Howard marched into Earl Holmes’s office and threw the script on his desk. “Storm of the South. This is it. This is the picture I want to direct next.”
Earl picked up the script and flipped through it, unfazed. “The Civil War? It’s been done, and badly.”
“Not the way I’m going to do it.”
“I read the script a couple of months back. It’s a war movie. A woman can’t direct a war movie.” He tossed the script onto his large mahogany desk and leaned back in his leather chair, his hands clasped over his round belly, his graying eyebrows knitted as his eyes bored into her. Earl’s imposing attitude would have cowed a lesser director, but Vivien had played this game too many times with the old studio head to be scared off now.
“It’s a love story set during a war.”
“The Civil War.”
“I know exactly how I’m going to shoot it.” She sat down on Earl’s plush leather sofa, pushing back her shoulder- length curly brown hair. She crossed her legs, thankful Miss Hepburn’s popularity had made wearing trousers respectable. Even if the Women’s Decency League proclaimed pants the ruin of womankind, Vivien preferred them to skirts and always made sure they were femininely tailored to complement her dark hair and eyes. Being one of only a few female directors in Hollywood, she played a man’s game, but she was always careful to remain a lady. Her career depended on this tightrope walk.
Earl leaned back in his chair and studied her. She knew he was intrigued, but she also knew he hated to let directors think they were getting their way, even if they were.
“The boys in New York won’t like the idea of a woman directing a war movie,” he replied, selecting a cigar from the humidor on his desk.
“If you pitch it right, they’ll love this project.”
“But I’ve got to love it first.” He clipped off the end of the cigar and placed it between his lips. Vivien picked up the large silver lighter from his desk, popped open the cap, sparked the flame, and held it out to him across the desk.
“You love the money my films make. You also love how good my successful films make you look to the boys in New York.”
Earl leaned forward and lit his cigar, then sat back in his chair, slowly drawing in the smoke. Vivien knew she had him. She smiled, waiting for him to make the next move.
“Who’d you have in mind for the lead?” he asked.
“Peter Davies. He’s perfect.”
“He’s a supporting actor. You need a leading man with box office draw, someone like Gary Roth.”
Vivien perched on the edge of his desk. “Peter has leading man potential. All he needs is the right role, and this is it. ”
“And the fact that you two are dating?”
“Has nothing to do with it.” Vivien was on shaky ground, and she knew it.
“The boys in New York are going to insist on a big star, especially when they get wind that I’m letting you direct a war movie,” Earl protested.
Vivien fixed him with a serious look. “It’s a love story, and you know it. It’s also the best script to come across my desk in years, and I’m the best director to do it.”
“We still need a star to headline it.”
“And we’ll have one when I cast the female lead.”
Earl chewed on the end of his cigar, eyeing her. “Fine. You can do it. Start tomorrow.”
“I’ll start today.” Vivien jumped to her feet. She’d been planning the film on the sly for weeks and relished the chance to finally work on it out in the open.
Earl shook his head, snatching the black phone off the receiver. “I don’t let any of my stars push me around half as much as you do.”
Vivien smiled over her shoulder as she made her way to the door. “That’s because no one makes as much money for you as I do.”
“Don’t make me regret this, Vivien,” Earl called out after her.
“You won’t, I promise.” She winked, then slipped out the door.
Bio: A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.
Her traditional Regency, Lady’s Wager and her contemporary novella Rock ‘n’ Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood is currently available from Montlake Romance. Mask of the Gladiator, a novella of ancient Rome is now available from Carina Press.
When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit www.georgie-lee.com for more information about Georgie and her novels.
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You can buy Studio Relations at: http://www.amazon.com/Studio-Relations-ebook/dp/B008RBSNYY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1354680230&sr=8-2&keywords=studio+relations