Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Robert Ellis: The Genius of Gary Oldman

Oldman as Stansfield in LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL
Last week I was clicking through cable channels when I spotted one of my favorite movies, LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL, directed by Luc Besson, with lights out performances by Natalie Portman, Jean Reno, Danny Aiello, and the remarkably talented, Gary Oldman. 

A few months back we spoke about what a wonderful ride Gene Hackman has had. But after watching Oldman's performance in LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL, I can imagine how much fun this actor is having as well.

Gary Oldman as Drexl in TRUE ROMANCE
 His filmography reads like a list of some of the best films ever made on the international stage. We all know about his roles in the Batman series, and even Harry Potter. But what about the beginning? What about his brilliant performances in SID AND NANCY, BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA, the frightening pimp drug dealer in TRUE ROMANCE, and his brilliant portrayal of Ludwig van Beethoven in IMMORTAL BELOVED. Talk about range.

Oldman as Ludwig van Beethoven
I can remember watching Oldman play the role of Drexl Spivey when TRUE ROMANCE first came out. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. I couldn't take my eyes off Oldman, with his dreadlocks, his scarred face, that blank eye, and that smoking jacket. And what about the way he spoke? That amazing dialect he came up with. Fear and terror oozed out of the actor's every pore and it was thrilling to watch. Cut that against his portrayal of Ludwig van Beethoven, and the unforgettable scene when the audience realizes that one of the greatest musicians who ever lived, maybe the greatest of them all, was deaf.

What would the history of film look like if Gary Oldman hadn't wanted to perform? What if he hadn't had the guts to walk into his first audition? Sometimes it's important to raise a hand and say thanks to such a remarkable talent like Gary Oldman.

Sleep Loose,




Monday, July 25, 2016

Robert Ellis: THE LOVE KILLINGS Interview, Part 2

Coming August 2
Reader: It seems like you enjoy peppering your novels with all these wonderful factoids that I just can't get enough of. In THE DEAD ROOM, Teddy Mack's murder investigation uncovers little known gems like how Michelangelo learned to sculpt by breaking into the morgue at night and feeling his way through corpse after corpse. In CITY OF FIRE Lena Gamble uncovers something that blew me away as well: that if someone  comes from a family that survived the Black Plague in Europe so long ago, that person has a mutated gene and is immune to HIV. Now, in THE LOVE KILLINGS, Matt Jones comes upon a homemade silencer for a pistol that is so amazing, it has a nickname. How do you do this? Where do these cool factoids come from?

RE: One of my favorite comments about my work came from Michael Connelly after he read CITY OF FIRE. "Riding with Detective Lena Gamble through the hills of Los Angeles is something I could get used to," he said. "She's tough, smart, and most of all, she's real." What I like most about Michael's quote is that he used the word "real." Anyone who's read his work and is a fan like I am knows how much he values that word.

Robert Ellis
I feel exactly the same way. I want all of my novels to be about real. I want them to be set in the real world. I want that world to play the same vital role the characters are playing. And that's why I think it's so important to give the world in the novel detail. Not enough to weight it down or get in the way of story, just enough to make everything seem brighter and more real. Having Matt sift through past murder cases from real life gives the story color, and often times, as is the case with THE LOVE KILLINGS, more depth and meaning.  Adding something few people have seen before like a homemade silencer, or determining that a teenage girl is pregnant based on something seen in her mouth -- it helps make it feel real, but it also makes the writing process more alive and fun. At least for me.

Reader: But how do you do it?

The Finished Manuscript Ready & Waiting
RE: For me it happens when I begin to focus on coming up with a new story. I see something that catches my eye in the news, or in a documentary. I read something that lights up my imagination in a book, or hear a friend talking. The trick is to make yourself write it down. If I tell myself I'll remember it in the morning ... I won't! I make notes on 3x5 cards, post-its, or whatever is on hand, then start stacking them on my desk. It's been my experience that within a few days a bit of magic happens. Like some sort of honey bee that smells a flower two miles off, my mind reaches a sharper focus, and stories begin to come every day. It's like a fisherman's net that's just been cast into the sea. I start pulling these odd stories out of nowhere until my desk looks like a pile of trash! It takes a certain amount of courage to read through them all. Some are ridiculous, some were jotted down in the dark while in bed and not legible, and some don't fit what I had in mind now, but might work for a future novel. But then I come upon one of those gems you mentioned, something that's just right for my story and theme, and I realize that putting the time in was totally worth it.

Sleep loose, guys. One more week to go before THE LOVE KILLINGS is finally here!
And many thanks!




Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Robert Ellis: THE LOVE KILLINGS Playlist, Cut 4, Big Bang Baby

Coming August 2, 2016
Robert Ellis: THE LOVE KILLINGS Playlist, Cut 4
Stone Temple Pilots, Big Bang Baby

These are writing songs - songs and music videos that I listened to and watched while writing THE LOVE KILLINGS...

I was in the middle of writing THE LOVE KILLINGS when I heard the sad news that Scott Weiland, lead singer for Stone Temple Pilots, had passed away. The story had the feel of a dark death, alone in a tour bus on a cold winter night in Minnesota. It was December 3, 2015. I could see it in my mind like I'm seeing it now -- the eerie image of a bus idling in the night while knowing what was happening inside. It must have been horrific, worse than what my imagination is doing to it as I write this. My deadline for THE LOVE KILLINGS was twelve days off, (the absolute last, no more favors deadline), and I still had fourteen chapters to write, so I worked through the sad news as best I could. 
Stone Temple Pilots

 Weiland's voice and manner blew my mind from day one. But so did the raw sound of the entire band. Robert DeLeo's clean bass playing that seemingly had no limitations, Eric Kretz keeping the heat up on drums. But what stands out most for me is Dean DeLeo on lead guitar and his unique respect for rhythm and creating a true "wall of sound." I once heard Keith Richards talk about the "wall of sound." He said that it was so strong and so powerful at times that he could lean his back against it and feel the vibrations pushing him back up. Dean DeLeo gives the concept a whole new meaning, particularly in songs like Plush, Wicked Garden, and Sex Type Thing.

But maybe the best reason why I like Stone Temple Pilots so much is that it seems as if they succeeded because of their fans. Like the great film director, Stanley Kubrick, with each new project, it often took time for the  media to catch up. But the fans of both the band and the filmmaker were always there, and still are today.

THE LOVE KILLINGS will be here in less than two weeks.

Sleep tight,

Hey, what's next?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Robert Ellis: THE LOVE KILLINGS Interview, Part 1

Coming August 2, 2016

CITY OF ECHOES and THE LOVE KILLINGS back to back add up to an epic crime story reminiscent in scope and power to James Ellroy's L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. How do these two remarkable novels, CITY OF ECHOES and THE LOVE KILLINGS, connect?

CITY OF ECHOES is the introduction of a new LAPD homicide detective, Matt Jones, on the first night of his first murder case. A man has been gunned down in a parking lot off Hollywood Boulevard. At a glance, the bullet-riddled body appears to be the work of a serial robber who's been working the Strip for months. The crime is so grisly, the identity of the victim so outrageous, that Jones and his partner, Denny Cabrera, jump into the investigation faster than they should. Nothing about the direction they're taking is safe or even close to safe. As Jones uncovers evidence linking the crime to a brutal, ritualized murder that occurred eighteen months prior, he begins to suspect that there's more going on beneath the surface, and that he and his partner are in a great deal of danger. When Jones discovers how far the corruption goes, a cover-up that defies the imagination, and his own personal ties to the rising body count, he's no longer sure he can trust anyone, not even himself.

Robert Ellis
And that's where THE LOVE KILLINGS kicks off! There's a sense to the ending of CITY OF ECHOES that this story isn't complete and that it truly is a personal journey on the part of Detective Matt Jones -- his lifelong need to discover who he is and where he came from. Six weeks of story time pass between the two novels, which gives Jones a chance to recover from his horrific ordeal in CITY OF ECHOES. And then we're off! The serial killer fled Los Angeles and has struck again in Philadelphia. Jones is recruited by a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice to join the FBI's special task force in the hunt and capture of this mass killer. But like I said before, THE LOVE KILLINGS is all about the journey Matt Jones is making. And like my previous six novels, the hero's attempt to understand the world we're living in, and do it an entertaining way. This is a fusion of character and plot more closely intertwined and more powerful than I ever imagined or even dreamed of. THE LOVE KILLINGS is the most personal story I've ever written, and like THE DEAD ROOM, takes place in the city and neighborhoods where I grew up.

THE LOVE KILLINGS is coming August 2, 2016 and is available everywhere.


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Robert Ellis: THE LOVE KILLINGS Playlist, Cut 3, She Sells Sanctuary

The Cult, She Sells Sanctuary

Coming August 2, 2016
These are writing songs - songs and music videos that made up a good portion of my waking hours every night while writing THE LOVE KILLINGS. (I wrote the last thirty chapters in thirty-three days so I wasn't getting much sleep in early Winter and fed on music with energy!) The Cult's She Sells Sanctuary was released in 1985 with the album LOVE. There are only two standalone albums that are still as good for me as they ever were, maybe even better because both are still in my car. When SUPERSESSIONS with Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield, and Stephen Stills came out it blew me way. Even now, when I close my eyes I can still hear Season of the Witch swimming in my mind.


But then the 80s came along, and with it, an incredible different sounding LP by the Cult called LOVE that seemed so real, new, even tight. Today it's even better. Ian Astbury truly delivers a command performance on vocals. And it's just the same with Billy Duffy playing lead guitar on a Gretsch no less!!! perhaps the most complex sounding electric guitar ever made. (The songs Rain and Revolution are just as amazing and will be posted later, along with more Stone Temple Pilots, who became my mainstay.)
Sleep Loose,


Friday, July 1, 2016

Robert Ellis: THE LOVE KILLINGS Playlist, Cut 2, Man in the Box

Coming August 2, 2016

Alice in Chains, Man in the Box

These are songs and music videos I listened to and watched almost every night while writing THE LOVE KILLINGS. Jerry Cantrell's guitar solo in Man in the Box is one of my favorites from the early '90s. I love the way Cantrell splits the piece into two distinct halves, then breaks through the solo with a wonderful and extremely moving riff.

While my readers know how much I love "scoring" my novels with music that fits the story almost as if these books were films, THE LOVE KILLINGS seemed too intense to allow for breaks. So instead of Detective Matt Jones enjoying these tunes, I took his place, and happily so. Ha!


Alice in Chains, Man in the Box (YouTube Video) 

Sleep loose,
THE LOVE KILLINGS Pre-Order on Amazon Now Available Here