Jeff Lee: My Guest Author who doesn’t scare easily – he’s from L.A.

Jeff Lee (Author)

Jeff Lee (Author)

At the end of last year I read a book which made me laugh out loud.  I enjoyed it so much I left a review on Amazon and decided to invite the writer, Jeff Lee, to pop in here to chat about his book, his life and the city he loves; Los Angeles.

I love L.A. and so many of the locations for his story are very familiar to me, and I’ve met a few Vonda’s in my time, all of which added to the enjoyment of this rip-roaring tale. I base many of my stories in this wonderful city for the same reasons he does.

The book I enjoyed so much is ‘The Ladies Temperance Club’s Farewell Tour.’

What a fab title.

I hope you enjoy his interview and will leave your comments at the end as usual, for Jeff to read.

 Welcome Jeff, tell us  about yourself:

First off, Jane, thanks very much for interviewing me.

Ok, on to a little bit about myself. I write full time. Mostly, fast-paced, hysterical crime novels that poke a ton of good-natured, satirical fun at Los Angeles, crime, murder, sex and the entertainment industry.

download for Jeff Lee

I’ve spent most of my adult life here and I love this town. I mean, can you think of a more fertile hunting ground for a satirist? I’m retired now, having spent more than 40 years thinking up and writing ads, commercials, brochures and billboards that left a lot of readers shaking their heads and laughing.

I once did a print ad campaign for the L.A. chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, focused on their ‘clients’ who were available for adoption. We used the same photo for a couple of different ads – a group portrait of half a dozen dogs, all looking happy and irresistible. And I decided to have a little fun with some of the commonly held stereotypes about the singles life in this town. The headline on one ad read, “Some L.A. males are actually hungry for a commitment.” Its partner’s headline said, “Some L.A. females don’t care what you drive.”

I still write in that same iconoclastic, wise-ass voice. Only now, I don’t have to worry about hurting a client’s feelings, or getting some network’s mammaries in a wringer. And that’s where the fun truly lies.

It certainly does Jeff

It would appear that your location is important as a source of inspiration and setting for your work, or doesn’t it matter?  Does the story finds its own location?

Like I said, I LOVE this town, and I know an awful lot about it, since I’ve been living here since the earliest days of disco. So, I like to inject a lot of this area’s personality and idiosyncrasies into my books. I’ve had reviewers comment that they felt Los Angeles was actually an unnamed character in my books.

I’ll drink to that.

You mentioned your former career. Please share your ‘official’ bio so people understand more about you.

Born near New York City and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jeff Lee has spent his entire writing career in Los Angeles. For more than 40 years, he has been a copywriter, producer and creative director for some of the advertising industry’s most recognizable agencies, winning numerous awards for his creativity and wise-ass sense of humor. Typical for his industry, none of those ad agencies are still in business, but he appears to have pretty solid alibis for the deaths of each one.

Retired from advertising, Jeff now spends his time on his own writing, having produced three novels in his Adventures in La-La Land, L.A.-based comedy crime series – The Ladies Temperance Club’s Farewell Tour, Hair of the Dog, and Chump Change. And, looking at life from the other end of the comedic spectrum, he also penned Bird Boy, a cautionary, para normal novel about extreme teenage bullying and the frightening places it could lead. Each of his books debuted to rave reviews, garnering all 4 and 5-star reviews.

Jeff is currently slaving away in his dungeon, hard at work on Hurricane Kretschman, the fourth novel in his Adventures in La-La Land series. And annoying everyone within earshot with his jokes.

Trained as a cook in the Army, he still enjoys being creative in the kitchen, and admits that few things in life compare with the thrill of discovering you’ve just given a nasty case of food poisoning to 140 heavily-armed troops.

A multi-decade resident of the Los Angeles area, Jeff has resided there almost long enough to apply for his L.A. native papers. He currently lives with one of his sons, a dog that’s a diagnosed foot fetishist, and a cat with half a Hitler moustache, that thinks it’s part golden retriever.

Tell us how you first began writing and why. What first inspired you to write?

That’s a tough one. I’ve been writing since I was about 12. I wasn’t exactly the class clown; more like the class Jonathan Swift. That’s more than 55 years of always poking fun at something on paper. Add to that a 40+ year career as an advertising copywriter and professional wise-ass. But I’m no different from every other copywriter who’s ever typed out the words, “But that’s not all…”

We all have a desk drawer somewhere, stuffed full of short stories, novels, screenplays and god-awful poetry. Particularly in this town, where everyone is a hyphenated writer. You’ve got your bank teller-writers; cop-writers; chef-writers; parking lot attendant-writers; undertaker-writers; realtor-writers…well, you get where I’m going here. “

Jeff, I can’t tell you how many times my lunch or dinner has been enhanced by the presentation of the collected recordings of one of the waiting staff, for my enjoyment and consideration – occupational hazard.

Fame & Fortune beckons

Fame & Fortune beckons

The first thing I can remember writing as a creative exercise was a report for my 8th grade teacher, on the American Civil War. He had a PhD in American History and was truly rabid about the subject. And every one of us 12 year-olds had only a couple of months to produce a minimum 50 page-long, typewritten and fully annotated research paper on the subject. I made it to around page 35 before my sense of humor started rearing its ugly head, filling the second half of my research paper with jokes, one-liners and a ton of irreverent humor. For which, I received a grade barely above failing and the handwritten comment, “I had no idea the Battle of Gettysburg was such a hoot. Stop making fun of our country’s history.”

How do you describe your writing and genre?  Do you think you fit into a particular box or have you created your own?

You mean my writing style? I prefer to write for the ear, instead of for grammatical precision. Almost fifty years of writing radio and TV commercials will do that to you. I write the way people speak and think, which makes it much easier on the reader.  And why my books are chock-full of sentence fragments.

And one-word paragraphs.

And paragraphs & sentences that start with the word “and”.

Which gives me a writer’s voice you won’t find anywhere else.

And has earned me the undying hatred of high school English teachers from coast to coast.

Who or what inspires you?

Everything inspires me in one way or another. My first book, The Ladies Temperance Club’s Farewell Tour, was inspired by a ham and cheese omelette and breakfast conversation I was having with someone, about RV’s – I think you call them ‘caravans’?

Another, Chump Change, was inspired by a pocket full of quarters and a morning spent washing my t-shirts, jeans and unmentionables at the local laundromat.

You just never know where that next idea for a book is going to come from. At least, I don’t.

Whose books do you read and do you always read similar genres to your own? 

When I have the time to read, I tend to pick up authors whose style is at least somewhat similar to mine. Carl Hiaasen, Fannie Flagg, early Dan Jenkins, Janet Evanovich, early Tom Robbins.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

My absolute favorite author has to be William Goldman. The man is a literary god, who’s written the novels and/or screenplays for, among other things, Boys and Girls Together, Soldier in the Rain, Magic, No way To Treat A Lady, Harper, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and dozens of others. He’s also written the screenplays for A Bridge Too Far, plus the novel and screenplay for The Princess Bride. And may have also script doctored Goodwill Hunting.

Toss in Faulkner, some Hemingway, James Clavell, Ludlum, Trevanian, Ian Fleming, Leon Uris, Joseph Heller and thirty or so others, and you’ve pretty much got my list.

Sunset Boulevasrd

Sunset Boulevard

Can you recall the first book as an adult you read?

There have been so many that I can’t recall which was first. I do remember devouring Shogun in two evenings.

Do you have a brain spewing ideas or does an event set the little grey cells dancing?

LOL. My brain is constantly spewing out ideas, especially for book themes. My problem is, I forget to write them down.

What kicks an idea into words?

After coming up with an idea for what might make for an interesting book – AND THEN WRITING IT DOWN, I like to spend some serious time thinking the idea, plot and characters through. Then I’ll fire up the computer and start pecking away at it.

Tell us about the first book you ever had published and how this came about – are you self-published or do you have a publisher?

I finished writing my first book, The Ladies Temperance Club’s Farewell Tour, some time in 2005. Then I started sending out query letters to literary agents.

Six years and 500+ rejections later, I finally said the Hell with it and published the book myself on Amazon (trust me, they make it sooo easy).

Do you have an agent?  How did you find one or if you don’t have one, are you considering employing one? Did your agent obtain your publishing contract or had you done the leg-work already?

Interesting question. I don’t have an agent yet. But I DO have a collection of more than 500 rejection letters I’ve received from them.

When I was briefly with my publisher, an agent had nothing to do with it. I found the publisher myself and approached them. Since I’m self-publishing my eBooks, I have no need now for an agent to handle them. But I’m still interested in finding one to handle everything that isn’t eBook related. Like, paperback & Hard cover rights. Publication rights for other languages. Movie and TV rights. I would love to find an agent conversant with those disciplines.

How many books have you written and do you have a favourite and why?

So far, I’ve written four novels: The Ladies Temperance Club’s Farewell Tour, Hair of the Dog, Chump Change and Bird Boy. Farewell Tour and Chump Change are both available as eBooks on Amazon. I’m going to be re-publishing Hair of the Dog and Bird Boy, and they will be. Too. But right now, they’re not available.

Tell us something about each of your books

This book made me laugh out loud

This book made me laugh out loud

The Ladies Temperance Club’s Farewell Tour is a fast-paced, hysterical road trip, involving three middle-age best friends, a humongous RV, massive quantities of Chardonnay and a stiff, frozen solid and wedged into the large freezer in the RV’s basement. The body belongs to the waste-of-skin boyfriend of one of them, and the three are on a white wine-powered quest to find the perfect place to bury his worthless body. Imagine Thelma and Louise…on the road with Lucy & Ethel.

This is the one I read and enjoyed so much. I have to admit the Thelma and Louise reference didn’t sway me having never seen the movie.

Chump Change

Chump Change

Chump Change is really a longish and satirical love letter to many of the things I love about life in Los Angeles – all the pomp and posturing; all the success worship; all the shallowness of life among the fit, tanned, and morally clueless folks whose big goal in life is to wind up on a reality TV series. We’ve got a crew of un-wise guys who steal an armored car hauling part of the city of Los Angeles’ monthly parking meter swag – roughly $300,000 in twenty-five cent pieces.

They, in turn are being pursued by a group of villains who want that seven and a half tons of quarters for themselves. There’s a corrupt televangelist who wants to use the loot to finance his first venture into biblical-themed porn to peddle to the faithful; his wife and co-minister, who’s laughably insane over winning toddler beauty pageants; the city’s parking meter czar, who would just as soon shoot you as talk to you; and a defrocked talent agent, looking to fund a TV show pilot that will get him back into the reality series biz.

I’ve read (and thoroughly enjoyed) The Last Ladies Temperance Farewell Tour which had me laughing out loud at the antics of your three female femme fatales as they go on a  West Coast (USA) road trip, hauling their guilty secret along with them in their RV. What inspired this story?  Do outline the story for my readers here.

When my then partner and I had our little ad agency, one of our clients was a huge club for the owners of RV’s and trailers. I used to love to hear stories about some of the shenanigans that went on at some of their huge jamborees and get-togethers. One day, over lunch with my client, she started re-regaling me. Next thing I knew, I was daydreaming about my book’s story. I think the best way sketch this story out would be to pick up the book’s back cover copy. So, here goes:

This book made me laugh out loud

The Last Ladies Temperance Farewell Tour

“Vonda Mae Ables could never hurt a soul. Now she’s on the lam in a huge RV, with her best friends, gallons of Chardonnay and a stiff in her freezer.

Vonda has suffered her alcoholic boyfriend’s abuse for twenty years. But when she finally stands up for herself, she overdoes it and crushes his skull with a football trophy.

Rather than turn herself in, she enlists her friends to help ditch the body. They stash the boyfriend in the freezer of his humongous RV and take off for Arizona, planning a quiet desert burial.

Unfortunately, the plan goes more sideways with every mile. Vonda finally finds a likely place to plant the dead SOB, but now he’s frozen solid and stuck in the freezer.

Exhausted from their day of digging and unsuccessfully trying to extricate him, the women stop at a local cafe. While they’re drinking dinner, a gang of Harley-riding repo guys makes off with the RV and a Good Samaritan reports the theft. Vonda panics when the police arrive to investigate, knowing that if the cops recover the RV and discover what’s in the freezer, she might have to turn that old trophy on herself.

Imagine THELMA AND LOUISE—on the road with Lucy & Ethel.

It’s about good friends, good wine, manslaughter and the crazy lengths we’ll go for those we care about.

You are in the middle of a new book, with some of the characters I met in the Farewell Tour – The Harley riding Fish, Kenny and Einstein – and I can’t wait to read their adventures.  Can you share a little more about this new book with us?

Actually, that’s a tough question to answer right now, since I’m not even 25% through with the first draft yet. Since I don’t outline, but prefer to let my characters write the story for me, there any number of directions this book could scamper off to. But, what I can share is the overall theme of the book: Harley riders Fish, Kenny and Einstein have taken a couple of weeks off, and are going to spend their vacation getting to, and taking part in the event that’s almost a holy requirement for every Harley Davidson rider and enthusiast.

They’re on their way to Sturgis, South Dakota for the annual motorcycle rally. Just our three heroes and five hundred thousand of their closest friends – hard driving, hard drinking, hard partying “hog” riders. And they’re accompanied on their journey by an off-duty female cop who’s got a thing  for Fish, her own full-race Harley, a very short fuse and a violent temper to match.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Do you write in long-hand or are you straight to the computer when working?

I write exclusively at the keyboard. My handwriting is so atrocious I should have gone to medical school and had career scrawling out prescriptions. And two, it’s a lot more efficient to compose at the  keyboard than to write it all out in long hand, and then have to copy everything to the computer.

Do you ever stare at that blank page and wonder what the hell?  How do you motivate yourself?  How do you work?

Only at the end of every single chapter. I sit staring at the screen for a while. Then I say to myself, all right, genius. You’ve gotten your character out of that pickle. Where to from here?

What props (if any) help you settle down and work in comfort?

None, really. Just maybe a cup of coffee. I hate to sound so boring, but that’s about it.

Do you find yourself distracted with endless coffee breaks, sessions on Facebook? Music, TV? Do you work silence or do you have a soundtrack as you write, and if so whose music do you play?

Of course! That’s half the fun of expressing yourself on paper. I’ve got to be in a quiet place in order to write. No TV. No talk shows. No (Pick your favorite country)’s Got Talent. For me, all that stuff isn’t background; it becomes the foreground, and I forget all about what I was trying to write. That’s why I can’t listen to music when I write, either.

When you get an idea do you have the full story in your head and write from beginning to end, or does your story just spill out as you write without any real idea where it is going?  Does it write itself?

I usually have a rough idea about a theme for the book, and where I might want to take the story. But since I live in a democracy, I like to let my characters have a vote, and they usually override me. In Farewell Tour, I had such a good feeling for the characters, I pretty much left them free to write the story for me.

Have you any formal training in writing?  Taken classes in Creative Writing for example? If not, would you ever consider it or do you think learning on the job is the best route to take?

No formal training as a writer, as such. But, I’ve also spent 40+ years writing professionally in advertising. I know my unique voice; I know how to make a lot of seemingly un-funny things hysterical; and I’m not afraid to take big chances.

What are your aspirations as an author?  Do you want to be a NY Times best-seller or are you writing for your own satisfaction; fame and fortune would be a nice by-product but not your sole motivation?

Nothing extravagant. I would just like to earn enough from my writing to afford to have “people”.

So, when some producer hits me with a suggestion that defies both logic and physics, I can respond by gushing, “Sounds de-vine, darling! Have your people call my people, and we’ll set up a meeting.”

But now that I think about it, it would be seriously cool for some toy manufacturer to come out with a line of Jeff Lee action figures. Especially if one comes with a Kung-Fu grip. You listening, Mattel?

Have your people call my people and we’ll set up a meeting.

Melrose Avenue

Melrose Avenue

Very Hollywood Jeff;  Let’s ‘do’ lunch, meaning let’s chase a lettuce leaf around a plate together, or just a glib invitation soon forgotten as I recall.

Describe your writing day – or do you write at night?

I try to wake up early. Usually, before the local drunks have called it a day. Have a little coffee, and then spend the next eight hours answering all the emails and notifications that came in overnight.

Then I’m ready to actually write for two or three more hours.

Quit for the day to let loose the dogs of cooking in the kitchen.

Then I pass out from exhaustion, some time between midnight and 1am.

Do you write every day?

I try to. But there’s an old Yiddish proverb that roughly translates to, “Man makes plans, and God just laughs.

In my case, the Almighty’s got a Hell of a sense of humor!

Do you set yourself targets – word count or chapters per writing session?

Nope. Who needs the pressure? Since I don’t have a publisher’s deadline breathing down my neck and fogging up my glasses, I choose not to.

I average between five hundred and 1500 words per day, depending. If I can hit within that range, huzzah! If I fall short, there’s always tomorrow. I mean, what am I gonna do — threaten myself with breach of contract?

I don’t scare easily.

Let’s have a taster of one of your books

Ok, Jane. As a parting gift for you and your readers, here’s a little sample of the way I hammer words together.

It’s the first chapter from my book, Chump Change.

It’s a short 6-page chapter, but it’ll give you a quick view of the love affair I’ve been having with L.A. for all this time. Along with a couple of landmarks you’re sure to recognize.


Chump Change

Chump Change

Chapter 1

If you’re trying to get from one end of Los Angeles to the other during rush hour, you’ve got two choices.

Assuming you’re the head of Disney, ABC or 20th Century Fox, your corporate helicopter can whisk you where you need to be before the Grande, half-caf two-pump Chai Latté in your cup holder has a chance to cool off.

But if you’re anyone else, you’re stuck sharing the Ventura, Santa Monica or San Diego Freeways with three or four million of your closest friends.

Which means, sometimes the best way to get where you’re going in L.A. is just to be born there.

The man checked the rear view mirror on the left side of his handlebar, pulled in his clutch lever and kicked his Harley down into second gear. Then he eased his old school chopper into the space between his traffic lane and the one on his right and moved out at a steady thirty five miles per hour. Meanwhile, the rest of the vehicles on either side of him continued inching forward like a herd of caterpillars, all busily converting the Sepulveda Pass section of the San Diego Freeway into the world’s longest parking lot.

The rider’s name was Moe Fishbein.

“Fish” to his friends.

In this town, everyone was a hyphenate of one kind or another. You had your actor-producers; your actor-directors; your parking valet-screenwriters and orthodontist-talent managers.

But Fish was a hyphenate of a different color.

He was a chef-attorney-repo man-bounty hunter, enjoying a few days off.

Fish had worked his way through night law school as a restaurant sous chef and passed the California Bar exam on his first try. Then, a few years later, he turned his back on the partnership offer at Uptight, Rigid, Repressed & Lipshitz to live at the beach and just dabble.

These days, he practiced a little law here, a little vehicular repossession and fugitive apprehension there.

He might never earn enough to get a write-up in Forbes.

But then again, as founder and CEO of Big Dog Recoveries, he worked when he wanted; for whom he wanted; and still managed to support a lifestyle that included a home perched above the cliffs on the North end of Malibu. Not to mention days off playing on seventy K worth of custom designed “old school” chopper, blasting up and down the coast and carving some of the local canyons with the two heavily tattooed, hog riding junior members of the firm, who lived in his guest house.

Small wonder Fish spent a lot of his waking day smiling.

He pulled to the curb in front of a modest $800K post World War II starter home a block South of Ventura Boulevard, climbed off his Harley and started hoofing it down to the busy thoroughfare. If the San Fernando Valley had a main drag, Ventura Boulevard was it, a twenty five-mile long collection of boutiques, trendy salons, overpriced little restaurants, discount furniture and lighting galleries and garish strip malls that stretched from just outside Universal Studios in Studio City, all the way out to the Kardashian’s back yard in Calabasas.

To Fish, the Valley was a lot like Long Island–with palm trees.

He strolled a hundred feet up Ventura Boulevard, held the door for a junior development exec from NBC who was too busy texting on her smart phone to nod a polite thanks, and then walked inside.

The huge neon sign above the entrance pretty much said it all:

“ART’S DELI.  Where every sandwich is a work of Art.”

Muslims the world over might pray to Mecca five times a day.

But for members of the tribe who resided within a time zone or two of Studio City, one of the holiest spots on Earth had to be Art’s Deli.

Starting fifty some-odd years ago with a passion for cold cuts and traditional Jewish fare that was just like momma wished she used to make, Art and his wife opened a small storefront deli just down the street from where Ventura Boulevard collided with Laurel Canyon. The place was a monument to good food and gargantuan servings, and it became an instant hit, doubling and then tripling its size as the stores on either side became available.

Fish scanned the inside of the eatery, looking for his appointment.

Over in one corner, he spotted a couple of stand-up comics he recognized from their HBO specials.

In another, sat a height challenged “bad boy” rock star with a pirate bandana wrapped around his head, a tendency to punch first and ask questions later, and a voice like a cat caught in a Cuisinart.

Fish watched as a pair of middle aged, former Valley Girls approached him for an autograph, interrupting the flow of the ketchup he was pouring over his breakfast.

Bad boy’s unspoken answer was the handful of loosely scrambled eggs and Del Monte he tossed at his two fans.

Little guys with big-ass egos.

Fish chuckled silently while a Cheshire cat-like grin spread across his face.

You gotta love this town.

Since he still couldn’t spot his appointment, he let the hostess seat him in a booth along Art’s Art Wall, an unbroken surface that ran from the front of the deli back to the rear and separated it from the high end toddler boutique next door.

Equally spaced along the wall were humongous four foot by six foot, framed full color photos, extreme close-ups of some of Art’s creations. Each sandwich was posed with its two halves facing each other at an angle that lovingly displayed every moist, glistening layer of rare roast beef, ham or pastrami and every luscious globule of fat in all its glory.

And earned the wall full of oversized food portraits the nickname of “Jewish Porn”.

Fish rested both arms across the back of his booth and tilted his head straight up, taking in his upside down view of the entire wall. He started to chuckle as he caught himself wondering what would have happened, had Hugh Hefner had been born into the tribe. The centerfolds in Playboy would probably have sported a completely different look.

“Sorry I’m a little late, Fish.”

“Lemme guess. Car trouble? You couldn’t find your way?”

“Something like that. Anyway, sorry if I held you up.”

Fish slowly tilted his head down from his view of the wall full of salacious Hebraic wall decor.

“No sweat, Arnie. I mean, you gotta take that left on Wilshire at Crescent Heights, stay on it until it turns into Laurel Canyon, then follow it over the hill and hang another left on Ventura. Hey, I know it’s a long way from brain surgery, but some guys just can’t handle the pressure.”

He chuckled and motioned for Arnie to take a seat.

“Here, take a load off.”

Having been an attorney for a number of years, Fish didn’t have a lot of use for most barristers.

Or even much respect.

Especially for Arnie.

At best, they were usually long on brains and education, but missing that special chromosome that governed conscience, ethics and morality. Dig deep enough into any big-time financial or political scandal and you’re bound to unearth a few law school graduates rooting around in the muck.

At worst, they could be too bumbling and/or unimaginative to do anything but make life a living Hell for their clients.

Like Arnold Kaufman.

Arnie Babe to his showbiz clients.

He was bright enough to graduate UCLA Law in the middle of the pack, but had to take three runs at the California Bar exam in order to pass. From there, he did what any newly minted lawyer with limited talent and big family connections did–he became a Hollywood agent.

Eventually, he pushed his first and only client into her big break in the movies.

Too bad she had to go and get clipped by a hit man who paraded around in black Armani and talked like Marilyn Monroe.

After that, Arnie made the jump from agent to producer, selling his former client’s life and death story for a movie that was so bad it premiered on airliners. And not American or United; the only place to catch that turkey was aboard a Southwest Airlines Flight.

But that was then.

“OK, Arnie. You called this little meeting. What’s it all about?”

Arnie Babe started rummaging around in his briefcase. “Fish, you ever heard the saying, ‘Opportunity only knocks once?”

“Yeah, so?”

“So, right now it’s pounding hard on your front door, Buddy. With both fists.”

He tossed a stack of slick looking brochures onto the table top. “Pitch” folders that TV production companies put together to sell broadcast and cable TV networks on their ideas for new series.

“And it wants to make the two of us rich.”

“So, why is opportunity being so generous with me?”

“Reality TV, Fish. You ever hear of it?”

“Y’mean like that father and son who build custom choppers together, but hate each other’s guts?”

Fish tossed the brochures back onto the pile.

“Thanks, Arnie. But I need that kind of opportunity like a moose needs a hat rack.”

“Don’t knock it, my friend. That show’s made multimillionaires out of both those guys. The same for those nut jobs who fish for crabs out on the Bering Sea. Or what about that guy who whispers at dogs?”

Arnie dug another brochure out of his briefcase and set it face down on the table. “You get a hot reality show and you can make millions off it. Trust me.”

“And you want me to help you produce a reality TV Show?”

Arnie shook his head.

“No Fish, I want you to star in your own reality show. What do you think of this?” He held up both hands with index fingers reaching skyward and thumbs pointed at each other to frame what he was saying.

“Fish … Bounty Hunter to the Stars.”

He turned the brochure over and slid it in front of Fish.

The show’s title was printed in huge letters that took up two lines of type.

Below that was a photo of Fish, on his old school chopper, along with his two assistants, Einstein and Kenny, on theirs.

All Fish could do was shake his head and chuckle.

His cell phone suddenly rang and he switched it over to speakerphone as he answered.

“Speak,” he chuckled at the phone.

“That you, Fish?”

“Yeah, Elias. What’s up?”

“I’m in a real bind here. And I need your help.”

Elias Hope was the owner of There’s Always Hope, a bail bond agency he ran out of a tired old double wide trailer along one of the rare stretches of Hollywood Boulevard that hadn’t gone insultingly upscale yet. Elias was a good guy, one of Fish’s major sources of income. And if he was in a pickle, only one thing could have put him there.

“You got a Failure to Appear for me?”

“What do you mean, an FTA? We’re talkin’ a foursome here.”

What Elias had was Norman Shimazu, Robbie Gubbins, Antwon Porter, and Javier “Bosco” Chubasco, four knuckleheaded, lifelong friends with big dreams of making it in the exciting and high-paying field of car theft.

They’d gotten picked up a couple of weeks ago in a huge award banquet sting at the Queen Mary, a joint venture run by LAPD and the County Sheriffs. The four were charged with a smorgasbord of small time misdemeanors and Elias bonded them out.

Their hearing was yesterday, only they must not have gotten the memo.

Hence, the Failure to Appear warrants. If Fish could round them up and deliver them forthwith to the nearest pokey, he’d pick up a fast eight grand. If not, Elias would be out eighty large for all their bails.

“So,” Elias said. “Can you help me out here?”

“No worries, man. I’ll bring Einstein and Kenny, and we’ll grab these guys up tonight around three, when they’ll either be asleep or sleeping it off. You got an address?”

Arnie kept his eyes glued on the sheet of paper on which Fish was writing Norman Shimazu’s last known residence.

Fish promised to give Elias a call as soon as central booking handed him the body receipts for the four and then hung up.

”See what I mean?” Arnie Babe piped up as Fish slid his cell phone into his shirt pocket. “You’re a natural for this, Buddy. Next couple of calls you go out on, let me come along with a cameraman. We’ll get enough video to put a killer pilot together. And you won’t even know we’re there. Trust me.”

Thanks so much Jeff, I have my copy of Chump Change and will be diving in to familiar locations and characters soon.

 It’s been fun and a delight to host you on my blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too. Many thanks.  I hope my readers enjoy learning about you and will seek your books following the links provided and give us both their valued feedback. I wish you all the best for your future writing career.

Jane, this has been a real pleasure. Thanks for inviting me, and I hope none of your readers’ eyes have crossed by now.

Seriously, I’ve had a wonderful time. And I’d love to do this again.

You can find Jeff following these links:

Farewell Tour’s Amazon link:

Chump Change’s Amazon link:

Amazon Author Page:

Facebook Author Page:


Twitter: @jfredlee

 Let us know what you think folks, please leave your comments, thanks.


  1. Reblogged this on Jane Risdon and commented:

    This time last year my guest author was Jeff Lee. Do drop in if you missed his fab offerings on my blog. He is a funny writer who makes me laugh out loud with his tales of Hollywood and California. Drop in and take a look and let us know what you think.


  2. Great interview Jane – and Jeff, my eyes have not crossed! Very interesting read. Been on your website, am impressed – and going to read Bird Boy. Love the ideas and love sci fi. Glad to come across your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jane, I’ll admit I have only read half of this as it’s nearly a memoir in itself…haha! Still, Jeff is a very interesting and fascinating man, so now I will just have to read one of his books! I am intrigued by his writing style.
    And yes.
    He is not scared, is he? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am glad you enjoyed it and that you fancy reading one of his books. I loved the Farewell Tour – it suits my sense f humour too. I did consider cutting the interview but I enjoyed reading it back so much, I thought, leave it as it is because I was sure readers would be compelled to read it all. Let me know if you read him 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Thanks, and I’m glad you enjoyed the first half of Jane’s interview. I thought it was a little long myself, and gave her the option of whittling it down. Hmm, perhaps I should have mentioned that to her before it went live? Well, look at it this way, at least you’ll have something funny to read the next time there’s absolutely nothing worth watching on TV. Seriously, I’m tickled that you enjoyed the interview, and would love to read your reactions to my books. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jane – I want to thank you again for that wonderful interview! Answering your questions, I had more fun than humans are allowed by law to enjoy. You’re a warm, gracious and generous host, and I really appreciate the amount of thought that went into your questions. Next time you two are in L.A., we’ll simply have to do lunch, or maybe dinner. Just have your people call my people and we’ll set it up. Seriously Jane, my deepest thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

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