Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Chameleon: Guest Post by Earl Javorsky

Earl Javorsky (www.earljavorsky.com) is the author of Down to No Good and Down Solo. He also works as a copy editor and proofreader in San Diego.

Earl Javorsky:

I came of age at the cusp of two defining eras. The mid-sixties was a hell of a time to be a teenager, and a hell of a confusing one. Cognitive dissonance would have required objectivity unavailable to a privileged white boy from Brentwood, California. How else to reconcile a love for all things James Bond—bespoke suits and a silenced Beretta—with Woody Guthrie and Jack Kerouac? My upbringing in a family of classical musicians and my love for Jimmy Reed and Freddy McDowell? My step-father’s Republicanism and my draft-card burning? And yet this cultural disconnect was a repeat performance for me.

My parents brought me to Queens from Berlin in 1952, when I was two. The family mythology includes the story of my entering preschool at three and returning home refusing to talk. After several months of shaking or nodding my head and pointing at things I wanted, I suddenly—with no particular prompting—started speaking unaccented English. When the family talked to me in German, I declined, saying, “That’s baby talk.” I never spoke it again.

When I was five, my mother left me with her parents, also in Queens, and sometime later my grandmother took me to Las Vegas, where we camped in a motel. One day my mom arrived in a brand new Cadillac driven by John, a Hollywood actor, and off we went to Los Angeles.

Strangely, my new dad had been a lieutenant on a US destroyer off the coast of Italy during World War II. My birth father had been an aerial photographer in North Africa under Rommel.

Just when I had settled into my new life on the West Side, we moved to Bermuda so my stepfather could film a TV series, and I was put in a snooty prep school where we had to wear flannel shorts and a blazer and tie and take Religious Instruction along with our academic classes. Naturally, the kids made fun of my American accent. Naturally, I adapted.

Somewhere along the line, my stepfather legally changed his name from John Cox to John Howard, the name Paramount Studios had given him. This gave me a third last name: I was born Daniel Earl Javorsky, became Daniel Cox, and, finally, landed on Dan Howard, which I stuck with until it was time to publish a book. I chose Earl Javorsky, partly to honor my father and partly for its eccentricity. An unexpected bonus was that it was unique in Google searches.

I write all this because it interests me to reflect on some unintended themes that, looking back, I recognize in my novels. All three books have characters who have alternate identities, though in my first, Down Solo, the name change is forced upon my protagonist. And two of my books are about characters who are not what they appear to be; beyond simply using aliases, they are pretenders.

Some years back, a movie was made about my dad, Heinz Javorsky, who after the war continued his career as a cinematographer. Oddly, it was called “Chameleon Cameraman.”

Monday, September 25, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: The Judge

Mystery Week Returns: MWA NorCal

Mystery Week returns!  October 14-20, 2017!

Six days’ events (it’s a mystery, what happened to the Friday…) celebrating the work of MWA NorCal, throughout the chapter area.

Saturday, October 14
5-6 PM
Noir at the Bar
Latin American Club
3286 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA
Cara Black, Tony Broadbent, Jerry Kennealy, Laurie R. King, Ellen Kirschman, Kelli Stanley & Jacqueline Winspear

Sunday, October 15
2-4 PM
Fact and Fiction in Mysteries: The Challenge of Research
Castro Valley Public Library
Castro Valley, CA
Janet Dawson, Jim Guigli, Camille Minichino, Judith Overmier & Ann Parker

Monday, October 16
7-8:30 PM
Motives for Murder: Mystery Writers Plotting the Perfect Crime
Santa Clara Public Library
Santa Clara, CA
Susan Bickford, John Billheimer, Ellen Kirschman, Robin Stuart & Susan Wolfe

Tuesday, October 17
6-8 PM
Bad Guys, Scary Stuff, and Why We Write About Them
Davis Public Library
Davis, CA
Michael Cooper, Rae James (R.F. James), Catriona McPherson, Beth McMullen & Eileen Rendahl

Wednesday, October 18
6-8 PM
Crime Does Not Pay… Enough! MWA NorCal, Yesterday and Today
Morrison Library (UC Berkeley)
Berkeley, CA
Randal Brandt, Laurie R. King, Sheldon Siegel & Kelli Stanley
Kindly RSVP if you’re thinking of attending, here.

Thursday, October 19
6-7:30 PM
Entertainment With an Edge: The Suspense in Mystery Writing
Santa Cruz Public Library
Santa Cruz, CA
John Burley, Heather Haven, Katherine Hyde, Laurie R. King & Gigi Pandian