My novelization of my feature screenplay Houdini & Lovecraft: The Ghost Writer is now published as a paperback or eBook on Amazon for Kindle.
A rousing horror/sci-fi adventure that unites two of the most influential figures of the early twentieth century: the great magician Harry Houdini and the renowned horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. It’s 1924, an era of emerging technology, but also of spiritualism and magic. Harry Houdini, the great conjurer and mystifier, well known as a psychic debunker, is hired by the obnoxiously wealthy Caswell Bullock to put together a team to investigate a purportedly haunted mansion Bullock owns in the hill country of western Massachusetts. Meanwhile, horror writer H.P. Lovecraft is down on his luck and struggling to pay the hospital bills for treatment of his wife, Sonia, who is seriously ill. Houdini drafts the reluctant Lovecraft to join his team as his “Ghost Writer,” to chronicle the magician's adventures in the paranormal.
There is little love between the two vastly different men who come to have entirely opposing views of the happenings in the strange mansion. But their investigation triggers events that cause the team to become trapped in the mansion, and its members soon find themselves under attack by deadly invisible forces. Houdini, the professional skeptic, and Lovecraft, the believer, become a 1920's version of Scully and Mulder, and their contrasting natures and styles form the personal backdrop to an adventure that could cost the lives of their team as well as their own. Lovecraft's research ultimately uncovers the truth of the place, and it's no mere ghost story. But can Lovecraft, the believer, convince the skeptical Houdini of the real danger before they are all destroyed?
Click HERE to go to the Amazon page to buy, or "Look Inside" to read Chapter 1 for free!
I was fascinated by the relationship between these two men, absolute icons of their era, and the fact that they actually collaborated. So I thought about a "what if?" scenario, and came up with the idea that there was, in fact, another collaboration between Houdini and Lovecraft, only this one became an adventure that was so horrifying and shocking that the true story couldn't be shared with the rest of the world... until now. This has long been one of my favorite scripts, mainly because these two men are so different: Lovecraft came from a wealthy family, but, by 1924, had fallen on hard times, Houdini came from abject poverty, and had raised himself up to the absolute pinnacle of fame and fortune. Lovecraft was a Yankee blue-blood, Houdini was a Hungarian immigrant who spoke with an accent. The script came very close to a movie deal when I first wrote it, but, as often happens in Hollywood, not every good idea gets produced, while a lot of bad ones do. So, this year, I took it off the shelf, dusted it off, and rewrote the screenplay as a novel. This gave me a lot of opportunity to flesh out the story, the relationship between the two men, and the other members of their psychic team. Anyway, I'm glad it's on Amazon's shelf now and not just on mine. It's a lot of spooky fun!
Dreamland is the story of the Golden Age of Hollywood as told through the eyes of Billy Wilkerson and his wife Edith Gwynn, founders and editorial voice (for over thirty years) of The Hollywood Reporter, as well as founders of the Sunset Strip restaurants Café Trocadero, Ciro’s, and Restaurant LaRue as well as the Las Vegas Flamingo hotel. I've written a draft of our first Dreamland novel along with writers Robert C. Cooper and W.R. Wilkerson III (Billy Wilkerson's son). It's in the editing stage.
Dreamland is a classy, stylish period drama that focuses on the true story and complex character of Billy Wilkerson, the founder of The Hollywood Reporter, a man who built an empire from nothing and heavily influenced an entire era. But it is also the story of America’s royalty, Hollywood’s stars and studio heads, at a time when they were the most regal – the 1930s and 1940s. It is a beautiful era, glamorous and glitzy, with rich costumes, smoke filled rooms, and gorgeous sexy people. But it’s also about what’s beneath that exterior gloss and sheen. You will also feel the grit of the street and the Great Depression. The low rent housing, dirty paint-peeling walls of The Reporter office, the ink-stained hands and sweat-stained shirts of the common men and women who lived outside the walls of the studios and struggled to survive.
The settings are the early Reporter offices, Billy and Edith’s modest LA apartment contrasted with the homes of the stars who are the focus of Billy’s stories, the lavish studios offices of Louis B. Mayer and MGM, the main adversary of Billy, and the glamour of the Sunset Strip restaurants Billy frequented and eventually owned. You will feel the tension of a world where the stakes are high and lives hang in the balance. Set in Hollywood beginning in the 1930’s but from an outsider’s point of view. Dreamland is about the reality of an era known as the Golden Age: the movies and the stories behind them to illuminate the truth about human nature, how we’ve changed and yet in so many ways, stayed the same.
Billy Wilkerson was the editorial voice of The Hollywood Reporter 1930 – 1962. As such, he was the industry hub from which all the major stories about Hollywood during that era spun outward. This is the epic story of a man but it is also about America. Set initially against the Great Depression, it is about the haves and have-nots. The gap between the rich and poor, the power of corporations and their propaganda. The role media plays. It is about the machine that created and perpetuated the notion of the American Dream and fostered the world’s impression of what America was and what it stood for.
American movies shaped the country both internally and abroad by sending out that message and promoting immigration through the idea that America was the land of opportunity where dreams came true. Billy was at the center of that, both in helping shape that message and by example. He built an empire from nothing. But the truth is, in Hollywood, many more dreams were destroyed than realized.
Then and now, actors were/are the royalty of America. The rich and famous. The public is fascinated by them and their personal lives. They are the personification of the American Dream. Anyone can become an overnight sensation. Or be crushed. Their stories are told in Dreamland.
Scroll down for a slide show of the Dreamland story.