Entry Level Movie

In a cineplex world ruled by mega-corporations, how much damage can one man do?

The Harringtons grieved as though they had lost a family member. In the next 90 days, they wrote a memorial to the ship and published Artemis, Proud Before the Wind in the hopes that it would reach ten printings, make a million dollars and raise Artemis from the deep. The book was printed only once, and only friends bought it. On the last page was the last word from Artemis, as heard by Sharron:

"YA, LONG IT HAS BEEN SINCE WE HAVE TALK .... IT IS INTERESTING TO OBSERVE SOME REACTIONS -- I DON'T FEEL VERY DEAD .... I FEEL TOO A MUSEUM SHIP I STILL AM AND WILL REMAIN. WE CAN TALK AGAIN -- AND MORE. I AM STILL WITH YOU."

Seanna got her house on dry land. It looked out onto the West Sam Houston Tollway and twice had been gutted by fire, but her parents thought it had "wonderful vibes," and was a wonderful deal besides. They worked it over and moved in.

The flavor of the sea stayed with them. Seanna grew up on dried squid and seaweed. They never got through dinner without the phone ringing, "because my dad always had a deal going," said Seanna. He went back into the film business. His energy became one with the spirit of the house. He counted everything -- the stairs, the steps across the room, the number of checks and pages he had written. He picked his nails to the point that his fingers were often wrapped in Band-Aids. He liked Twist-A-Plot books and was a great fan of Star Trek.

When the children were struggling with the usual woes of childhood, Sharron would tell them, "Isn't it wonderful that we're all struggling together?" Seanna says her parents never discouraged her. They didn't want to disappoint her, so they told her from the start the truth about Santa and the tooth fairy. They gave her the freedom to express herself, even when expression meant wearing a sheet to high school and wrapping her hair around bones and telephones.

Seanna is 23 now, a model and a waitress at Armando's. She likes bright colors and "happy, happy things," like the Brady Bunch movie, "not the first one but the second one. I just thought it was fun!"

In her spare time, she's also a jewelry maker. Her father wears one of her bracelets on his right wrist. She says she's a lot like him, and it's probably true that his experience making a movie is not unlike what she goes through to make her jewelry.

"I stick it in there, and if it fits, it works," said Seanna. "But this is an art gallery, and people always ask, 'What is this supposed to mean?' And I'm, like, at such a loss because I don't want people to think I'm some fud who has no meaning. So I say it means whatever you want it to."

The unique talent of Vivian Stephens, says Vivian Stephens, is her instinctive understanding of the American intellect and attention span. Modern romance novels, says the romance editor, descend from the literature of Jane Austen but in a way that has been popularized and Americanized. It's the relationship between art and pop art, or between cheese and Cheez Whiz. In other words...

"I always say, think of it like a peanut-butter sandwich," she said. "The whole culture has a taste for peanut butter, and it has never gone out of style. The bread might change a little, but at the core, you always want peanut butter. When you're writing romance, you write the best romance you can, so that the reader says, 'That was the best peanut-butter sandwich I have ever had.' "

Rick Harrington had been writing romances all his life, and they had gone nowhere until he and Sharron attended one of Vivian Stephens' lectures in 1981 and learned the magic formula -- that a man must meet a woman, and a woman must lose a man, and man and woman must then be drawn together again along a route that titillates all the senses.

"It worked!" said Rick. He and Sharron went home and focused their passion on paper. Their creative differences spilled over again, and their arguments grew fierce. When one would make a change in the text, the other would change it back, and soon Sharron would be standing on the table, wagging her finger in Rick's face and arguing for the sake of her art. Occasionally, the children were called upon to mediate. Sharron would go to her daughter, CeAnne, and say, "Here, read this. And try not to think it's your mother who wrote it."

But they finished the book finally, and after fashioning the pen name Rianna Craig from all the names of their children, the Harringtons put their manuscript in the mail. After the Harlequin editors cut it in half, processed and packed it, Love Match appeared in May 1984 as number 56 in the American Romance line. It is a book in which the men are strong and the women really like it, a book of "damp pink buds" and firm swords and gasping thunderclaps. "Her full, slightly open lips" parted to receive "his warm soft lips" and "wildly his lips plundered hers."

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