Thursday, March 19, 2020

Character Interview - Photographs by James Garcia Jr

James: Ms. Johnson, thank you for agreeing to sit down for this interview.

Joanna: You can call me Joanna, Jim. After all, you’ve seen me half naked.

James: *chokes* Oh-kay. I’d say the ice is sufficiently broken. Thank you for that.

Joanna: *laughs* It’s true!

James: I know, but Good Lord! You make it sound like that scene was the purpose for the entire story. “Mr. Grey will see you now…”

Joanna: *laughs* Yikes!

James: There you go.

Joanna: Okay. You win.

James: Thank you. First things first: How are you?

Joanna: I’m well. I’m still settling in…

James: *interrupts* Now don’t reveal too much for those who haven’t read the story yet.

Joanna: Right. Sorry.

James: Not at all. Let’s maybe just discuss the journey a little bit.

Joanna: Okay. What do you want to know?

James: When this all started you were a successful Real Estate agent and mother, confident at 39…

Joanna: Aren’t you the smooth one? Middle age. You can say it.

James: Okay. Unfortunately, you had your heart broken. It happens to all of us.

Joanna: Yes, it does, and it happened to me.

James: So, what happened? Not with Henry, but with what happened next?

Joanna: Well, with my daughter away at college, the last thing I wanted to do was mope around the house. The best thing was for me to do something to get away from all that. I asked Anita…

James: *interrupts* That’s your boss and friend.

Joanna: Yes. My best friend, really. Anyway, reluctant as she was, she showed me the file on this big beautiful house that we couldn’t keep renters in.

James: That was odd for a couple of reasons, wasn’t it?

Joanna: Yes, the house kept falling into our laps because there had been some grandfathered agreement somewhere along the line. The promise was we would eventually sell it once the original owner passed away. And then secondly, why did everyone flee this fantastic place?

James: So, what happened once you stepped inside the house?

Joanna: I fled.

James: That fast?

Joanna: No. First, I nearly drowned. Another time the electricity went out on me while in the shower…

James: Wait! So, the readers are going to wonder what you were doing taking a shower in that house.

Joanna: I thought you asked me not to give too much away?

James: Okay. You fled. Yet, you kept coming back.

Joanna: I did. Once I stumbled upon the fact that the house was Hollywood royalty, I found myself coming back for more.

James: Tell us about Allison Belle.

Joanna: Poor Ally. She was an actress who had appeared in several films. 
Unfortunately, it amounted to something like 23 minutes of screen time. Her heart was never really in it. She tried, but ultimately, she really only wanted to be married. Her and her husband left Hollywood for Fresno, California.

James: What year was that?

Joanna: 1956.

James: What happened in 1959?

Joanna: She disappeared.

James: Did they ever find the body?

Joanna: No, they didn’t.

James: But you actually ‘met’ Allison during your stay at the house?

Joanna: Yes, I did. Odd as it sounds, we did meet.

James: How?

Joanna: I began finding photographs of her that had been lost. Figuring out what order they had been taken helped reveal all the clues.

James: How did they do that?

Joanna: Would you believe in talismans?

James: I would have said no.

Joanna: Me, too. But that’s exactly what happened.

James: The photographs were magical?

Joanna: Let’s just say when I fell asleep, I was there.

James: Where?

Joanna: I was there the moment the photo was taken. I saw and heard everything. I even interacted with the people. I met William Holden, Ron and Nancy Reagan, Doris Day, Cary Grant. And, of course, I met Ally. It was incredible.

James: I know it was, because we captured it in Photographs. Thank you, Joanna.

Joanna: Thank you.

James Garcia Jr

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: James Garcia Jr

Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
ISBN: 9781655811678
ASIN: B083H87YJ6
Number of pages: 390
Word Count: 84,798
Cover Artist: Maria Zannini

Tagline: One night, two exceptional women meet; one black, one white. Both carry broken hearts and one has been dead sixty years.

Book Description:

One night, two exceptional women meet; one black, one white. Both carry broken hearts and one has been dead for sixty years.

In 1956, film actress Allison Belle abandoned the glamour of Hollywood for Fresno, California, and an idyllic new life.

In 1959, she disappeared altogether.

Sixty years later, real estate agent Joanna Johnson steps unsuspectingly into the old Belle house and a story long forgotten.

A devastating personal event opens a hidden door into the actress’s world. The mystery behind what broke Allison’s heart and what ultimately happened to her is revealed slowly by a series of long lost photographs the agent uncovers; the relationship she builds with the actress’s ninety year old husband; and through a series of “dreams” she has where she relives the moments captured by each photograph - herself a participant in them.

The closer Joanna gets to the truth, the closer she gets to suffering the same fate.

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“In these daydreams and dreams that I have glimpsed, I have seen the best of a woman who was so pleased to have left her past life.” She held out her hands and motioned around her. “She loved this place and everything about it. I have seen her happier doing yardwork than she appears in any red-carpet premiere photo on the Internet, and I’ve seen many of those. I have heard her laugh and shared sweet moments with her.”
“So, what happened to her?” John asked.
Joanna grew silent. “I wish I knew.” She sighed and thought it over. “I believe her last moments were spent in isolation. Richard appears in fewer and fewer of the memories toward the end. I’m not sure why. He’s in Hollywood now, so perhaps the pull of that life tugged him back. One of the last moments I spent with her, for lack of a better explanation, she was sitting by this window.” Joanna turned and pointed behind her.
“What was she doing?” John asked.
Joanna stared at the spot. “Nothing. Well, drinking. Drinking pretty heavily, actually. In the end, I think it was all she had.” She turned back around, and her gaze settled on the pool. She lifted a hand to her face.
“What is it?” Shelly asked.
“The first night I stayed here, I found an old bottle of Scotch in a cabinet that would not open to me. When it finally did, that’s when I found the first photo. It was her booze. I had entirely too much of it and ended up in the pool.”
“Why?” Shelly asked.
“I think I was trying to kill myself.”
“Oh, my God,” Shelly said. “Because of your engagement?”
Joanna shook her head. “No. I think it was Ally. I saw an outline of somebody standing on the ledge of the pool. When I came up for air, she was gone. But she had been there. I really don’t understand it myself.” Both faces were glued to hers. “I found the previous renter.”
“The zoo guy?” John asked.
“Director Eggars,” Shelly added.
Joanna nodded. She looked into Shelly’s eyes. “He really didn’t want to talk to me once I told him about the house. Know what he said to me?”
Shelly shook her head.
“He said, ‘Please don’t tell me you ended up in that pool.’” Joanna looked from one to the other and back at the pool. “His wife ended up in the pool, too. I get the feeling it had happened more than once. That last time, he got her and their kids out of here and never came back.”
“Is the pool haunted?” John asked, turning around to face it.
“I don’t think it’s the pool,” Joanna answered. “But I wonder if Ally tried to kill herself and every woman who stays here feels the same compulsion. Perhaps that’s what she was staring at when I sat with her. Maybe she was preparing herself…” She grew silent while she contemplated this.
“Maybe she didn’t try,” John said. “I know it sounds creepy, but maybe she succeeded.”
“John!” Shelly recoiled.
“I told you it was creepy,” he defended himself.
“It would explain much,” Joanna said. “Except what happened to the body.”

About the Author:

James Garcia Jr. was born in Hanford, California. He moved up the road to Kingsburg with his family as a child. After graduating KHS, he attended Reedley College where he met his wife. The family still makes its home in Kingsburg which is typically the setting of his fiction.

He was the 1994 winner of the Writers International Network/Writers Inter-Age Network writing contest in the horror category. He is the author of the Dance on Fire edgy vampire series and the stand-alone paranormal, Seeing Ghosts.

During the day, he is a manager at Sun-Maid Growers of California.

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1 comment:

James Garcia Jr said...

I had a lot of fun writing this. Thank you for the opportunity to share a little bit of what I do with your readers.
Stay safe out there, everyone!