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Interview: Shelly Frome, Author of The Twinning Murders

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A Professor Emeritus of dramatic arts at the University of Connecticut, Shelly Frome is a former professional actor and theater director.  Mr. Frome’s writing credits include a number of national and international articles on topics such as acting and theater, profiles of artists and notable figures in the arts. In addition, Frome has written books on theater and film and mystery novels, his newest release being The Twinning Murders

Please tell us a bit about your book, The Twinning Murders – characters, plot, etc.

The Twinning Murders is a modern day classic mystery centering on the ventures of Emily Ryder, a thirty-something rambler and tour guide. The story opens just before she embarks on this year’s Twinning: a ritual exchange between her historic New England home and its sister village deep in Dartmoor, a wild upland area in the west of England .

Presently, Emily becomes involved in a suspicious death that affects her personally. A few days later, at the Twinning itself, her main client meets the same fate. As Emily’s world continues to unravel, and though she has little help, she finds herself compelled to piece together the games being played on both sides of the Atlantic .

If you could meet, in person, any of your characters, who would it be and why?

I’d like to meet the drifter Will Farrow. He’s been everywhere from the Florida Keys to the Cape, chartered deep-sea fishing boats, worked with his hands at every kind of job and has a cool, laconic presence. In short, he’s a certain kind of rambler I’ve always admired who can light out when the situation doesn’t meet his standards of morality or worth.

If you could fictionalize yourself and put yourself in any situation, how would it play out? Could you give us a scene/scenario of such an occurrence?

I would be on the set of a Hollywood movie and discover that the producers are asking me to make all kinds of compromises or else. The “or else” includes a veiled threat that word will get out that I am an uncooperative actor and a troublemaker. As the scene unfolds, I will continue to opt for the screenwriter’s original concept which, at least, had some integrity and meaning. This leads to greater conflict as the director steps in and tries to convince me that the only thing that matters is a product that will sell in terms of mass marketing and the focus audience of those addicted to social networking. At some point I will have no other recourse but to walk off the set after telling everyone what I truly think of the way each and every one connected to the project is selling out.

Do you have any particular habits that you do while writing? Places you write the best, foods, drinks, etc., that help set your “writing mood”?

I tend to daydream here and there until the scene or beat that I’m presently working on begins to catch fire and take on a life of its own. Then I return to the computer and go on from there.

What are you reading right now?

The Ghosts of Belfast.

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?

Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, J.D. Salinger

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

J.D. Salinger. I’d love to know what kept him going after the media attention caused him to become a recluse. What he continued to write about, how and why.

Okay, here are a few “get to know you better” questions:

Please share with us a favorite memory.

A certain ride with the top down in my old convertible with someone vibrant and ingenuous.

Please describe a perfect meal – including menu and those present.

Baked stuffed shrimp, fresh summer vegetables and a whiskey sour with my wife and two friends at a corner table at a quiet restaurant in Bantam, Connecticut.

What are some of your favorite ways to relax?

Going to a worthwhile movie with my wife at an arts cinema, watching a classic movie or mystery on our TV set with my wife in the evening

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I suppose it would be somewhere in Devon, England or Cornwall. The escape away from the helter skelter to a timeless region with a marvelous past and equally marvelous cultured people who actually love to read and appreciate their heritage would really be appealing to both my wife and myself.

If you could only read books by one author, who would it be? *I know, this is an inconceivable thought, lol.

I suppose if Hemingway kept writing and exploring themes of life and death, friendship, jealousy, love, betrayal and adventure and kept trying to be honest about it all, that would probably sustain me. For a while.

Share with us a few of your dreams. Also whether they have been fulfilled or are still a work in progress.

My basic dream is an attempt to come to terms with what really matters in this world. This is basically a work in progress although much of this has been resolved lately.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

Daydreaming and wishing everything could be all right with those near and dear and far away.

If you could leave the world with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Look beneath the facades and all games people play, seek out the underlying truth and come to terms with one another.

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