Shelly Frome is professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, and a writer. Miranda and the D-Day Caper is an unusual entry in the cozy mystery genre because it’s intended to be a standalone novel.
The rise of the tribe
Shelly said that Miranda and the D-Day Caper grew from a frustration with the current divisions within our society that have been driven by political factions. “We’ve gotten to the point where everything seems to be tribal nowadays. You’re either for the leader of the party, especially is he’s the president, or not. If you’re a member of congress, you go along out of fear you’ll be ostracized and lose your seat. Everything can be justified no matter how outlandish. If not justified, then deflected. There’s even a lady counselor to the current commander in chief who came up with the ultimate deflection she calls ‘alternative facts.’”
A creative writing instructor once told Shelly that the best way to write a novel was to try not to write. He said, “When you wake up in the middle of the night screaming, ‘Okay, I give, I can’t take it anymore!’ that’s when you’re ready to begin. And that’s exactly what happened to me at a certain point listening to the news about the current administration.”
So, with tribalism dominating the headlines each day, Shelly felt a nostalgic pull. “I missed the days gone by especially in the Heartland when notions like fairness, truth and decency were watchwords across the land. I began having daydreams about two cousins in a small town in Indiana-a young tomboy and her whimsical, older male cousin who used to play games, engaging in pretend reconnaissance maneuvers from WW II, sneaking up on a big Halloween do on the mansion on the hill. The dynamic of these cousins today began to intrigue me, unwittingly going up against some dire right-wing conspiracy involving congress, the odds completely against them.”
A love of storytelling
“I’m an incurable storyteller, a professor emeritus of dramatic arts, a former starving actor in New York, and I used to listen to Jean Shepherd’s anecdotes out of WOR radio from New York about his ventures. Especially the ones as a kid in his little home town in Indiana, like the tale about a Red Ryder B-B gun that was made into a beloved movie that’s shown on TV every Christmas.”
Storytellers draw on many different events in their lives. Often, they don’t even realize this is happening. For instance, one summer, Shelly was, as he put it, “traipsing through the prickers and brambles at the end of Tubby Bottom Road in northern Mississippi.” He said, “I came across broken limbs like piercing pitch folks blocking my way. I was later told I had stumbled onto Wolf Creek, close to the sight of a Civil War skirmish where a parcel of Yankee soldiers had also lost their way and were ambushed by a squad of rebel soldiers. I didn’t know it at the time, but that incident was one of the catalysts for Twilight of the Drifter.”
Learn more about Shelly Frome on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorShellyFrome.