Mystery Writer, Author of the Award-Winning Louise Moscow Novel Series

“If it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul.” – Shakespeare

Foliage was listed in Shelf Unbound Magazine’s 100 Notables of 2016!

This award is a great honor for me since it makes me even more excited to finish Louise Moscow Book 2. There are already 50 chapters outlined, so I hope to have the first draft by March!

Regarding the script that I had the honor of co-writing with my dear friend Michael Harkins, which is based Mike’s book Move to Fire, we have a signed option agreement and have been meeting with producers. More on that when the time comes.

Speaking of honors, it is awards season again and I have been watching all the screeners. So I thought it would be fun to play mini film critic. I only ask that my friend and professional film critic for HollywoodChicago.com Patrick McDonald not to be too critical of me!

So for Cinephiles, here is my rating system: The number of 🍷 emojis represents how many times I stopped multi-tasking on my computer to focus on the movie (and drink wine).

NOTE: As a Gemini I was born multi-tasking and can’t sit still. No disrespect to the film makers intended. I am grateful that there are such brilliant minds writing intelligent and meaningful stories to keep us thinking and believing.

 

VIEWED AND REVIEWED

Miss Sloan – Starring Jessica Chastain 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷

A subject near to my heart, the gun lobby, this movie blew my mind. It has some radical twists, none of which I intend to spoil here. All I can say is the script is great, it’s a taut thriller and is well acted and directed. Don’t miss it.

The Comedian – Starring Robert Deniro and many other amazing actors including awesome cameo appearances.🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷

If I had to write the review in one sentence: It’s like Tootsie only darker, more hilarious, with a lot more cussing, and without the crossdressing.

Anyone who knows me is aware that Tootsie is my all time favorite movie, so this is high praise. The parallels to Sidney Pollack’s realistic representation of the human experience of acting, all the layers and the nuances, are captured here. It is deep but caustically funny and heartwarming.

Arrival
– Starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner 
🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷

It’s all about communication and the many ways of doing so. This film is a beautiful study of a language expert trying to reach out to illegal aliens to breach the divide, all while the fear- and war-mongers work against her. Renner’s character tells Adams’s character, “You approach language like a mathematician.” As someone who has both spoken a foreign language and worked in accounting most of my life, I touched on this very concept in Foliage. French is more conducive to philosophy, for example. “The language you speak effects how you think,” says Adam’s character. “If all I ever gave you was a hammer, everything would be a nail.” This film is a must see for linguaphiles!

Lion – Starring Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara 🍷🍷🍷🍷

Based on a true story, this film could have used a little more editing but it is beautifully scripted, filmed, acted and directed. It makes you think of the tragic story of Mia Farrow’s son Thaddeus whom she adopted from Calcutta in 1994. I cried at the end.

Florence Foster Jenkins
– Starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant 
🍷🍷🍷🍷

Another movie inspired by actual events. Again it could have used a little more trimming, if only to keep me from going to the kitchen to refill my wine glass. But, it is a revelation to go back and see what those crazy kids were doing a century ago. Oh, and guess what? I cried at the end.

TO BE VIEWED AND REVIEWED

Jackie – Starring Natalie Portman (I can’t wait to watch this!)

The Founder – Starring Michael Keaton

Hell or High Water – Starring Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine

Nocturnal Animals – Starring Amy Adams

Hacksaw Ridge – Directed by Mel Gibson

 

CHEERS!

 

 

ART IMITATES LIFE AND IT’S AWESOME

Art Imitates Life
Photo by Cheryl Mann

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.”—Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin

Everyone loves a great story. Once the story grabs us, we want to know more: what happened, how did it happen, who, when, where, why? Now, make that a true story and the level of fascination amps up exponentially. When art imitates life, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. New facts might come to light. More witnesses might come forward. Over the years the story evolves. That’s why I love historical fiction: War and Peace, Gone With the Wind, The Devil in the White City, to name just three.

Some authors write non-fiction only. I asked my friend, a world-renowned expert in Edwardian-era literature, when he would write his own novel. He gave me that deer-in-the-headlights look and said that his brain just doesn’t work that way. Other writers stick to pure fiction, happy to refer back to their own first-hand experiences, free from the tedium of excess research. But, real life underlies all good writing. Otherwise it won’t ring true.

Going the Extra Mile

Granted, writing historical fiction requires fastidious fact checking and footnotes. But if you write what you know you’re halfway there. For example, Vanity Fair investigative journalist Dominick Dunne re-crafted his fact-based articles into novels. American John Grisham and Brit Ian Fleming with their combined years of political, military, legal and spy experience turned in some of the most riveting fiction.

When art imitates life in literature, not only do we benefit from their masterful retelling of great stories, but we also learn stuff. We get a second chance to relive the moment, to figure out what happened, to make vital connections between the past, present and future. The new TV show, Timeless, does a brilliant job of linking past and present, cause and effect. In the current climate of seemingly global chaos, there are moments in Timeless that give the impression the world actually makes sense. As my screenwriter friend said, writing let’s you play God. For me, at least with historical fiction, I can try to understand God.

Metaphysical Connections

These moments of metaphysical connection, however fleeting, can be comforting. So, it was heartwarming and thrilling to read the latest review of my novel Foliage by the excellent Chicago film critic, Patrick McDonald. In his review he writes, “[Foliage] is a reminder of The Devil in the White City, as it gives a mind blowing history lesson on high finance and banking from the era that resonates to even our most recent banking problems.”

Seeing Foliage in the same sentence as one of the greatest contemporary novels has inspired me to keep writing more and better. Book Two of the Louise Moscow Novel Series is underway. Thank you Patrick, you get me.

Reader’s Favorite recognizes “Foliage” in its 2016 international book award contest!

Reader’s Favorite recognizes “Foliage” in its 2016 international book award contest!

For Immediate Release: September 1, 2016

Reader’s Favorite recognizes “Foliage” in its 2016 international book award contest.

The 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest featured thousands of contestants from over a dozen countries.

Los Angeles, CA. – Readers’ Favorite has become the fastest growing book review and award contest site on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.

In addition to reviewing for some of the biggest names in the literary industry, as well as the first time independent author, they host a respected award contest which features entries from new authors to NYT best-sellers, as well as celebrities like Jim Carrey and Henry Winkler.

“Readers’ Favorite is proud to announce that “Foliage” by Lorraine Evanoff is a Finalist in the Romance – Historical category in our 2016 International Book Award Contest.”

Foliage is a deft mix of spy thriller and romance set against a backdrop of real events, namely the 1991 collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the first of the recent wave of big financial scandals. The protagonist, Louise Moscow, is a sexy, smart, likable heroine who finds herself enmeshed in the shadowy world of high finance and international espionage. Code word: FOLIAGE!

Lorraine Evanoff has over twenty years of film industry experience in Paris and Los Angeles, notably as CFO of National Lampoon and other film companies. She also worked in Silicon Valley during the dot.com era. Lorraine and her husband reside in LA where she is writing her second novel and developing scripts.

Learn more at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/foliage

Discover Hollywood Magazine Summer 2016 Editor’s Pick

“Ms. Evanoff has written an incredibly timely book, especially given the release of the Panama Papers and the exposure of corruption within the banking and financial services industries. The book is a wonderful combination of non-fiction and fiction, with a heroine who is smart, beautiful, spiritual, and complex. – Simon Levy, Director, Writer, Producer, Fountain Theatre, Los Angeles

Lorraine Evanoff, Author

Foliage: An International Banking Spy Thriller

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/foliage

(310) 980-1303

Lorraineevanoff@gmail.com

How to Stop Cussing in Three Steps – #ThursdayThoughts

How to Stop Cussing in Three Steps – #ThursdayThoughts

Step 1 – Fuck It.
Steps 2 & 3 – Fuck it and just let it go.

Whoever said it was easy to stop cussing was full of shit!!

Whether you call it cussing or cursing, profanity, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “an offensive word” or “offensive language,” a subset of a language’s lexicon that is generally considered to be strongly impolite, rude or offensive.

But is it? Has cussing gone mainstream?

For me, the propensity for cussing is innate. Having literally grown up in a family of truck drivers, I was exposed to curse words since birth. But, I’m also the most fowl-mouthed member of my family, so it is also a personality trait. In my novel Foliage: An International Banking Spy Thriller, I touch on how genetic lineage can determine personality traits.

A recent article Personality Can Change Over A Lifetime, And Usually For The Better supports this premise, but also claims that we can change, albeit slowly, “The effects of personality traits on behavior are easiest to see when people are observed repeatedly across a variety of situations. For example, you probably know some people who consistently (but not always) show up on time, and others who consistently run late. And while personality traits are relatively stable over time, they can and often do gradually change across the life span. What’s more, those changes are usually for the better.”

So my genetically ordained personality trait of incurable potty mouth will gradually change for the better? Bullshit. After decades of therapy I have made zero progress cleaning up my language. And there is no quick fix. Hypnosis? Tried it. Transcendental Meditation? Been there, done that. I’m incurable!

After getting my degree in French and moving to Paris, one of my first tasks was to learn the profanity subset of the French lexicon. I needed to arm myself with the appropriate curse words in order to function. Lucky for me, French is rich with profanity. Also, the French have no qualms with cussing and it goes uncensored on TV. The worst language and even female nudity run rampant on national television. Talk show hosts spew merde and enculé. Commercials commonly feature beautiful naked women in the shower blissfully soaping them selves from the waist up. Vive la France. So after watching a lot of TV and a quick tutorial from the brilliant satirical lyricist Didier Bourdon, I was all nuanced up.

All my research has only fortified my dependence on expletives, which could just be research bias. But then why was I recently asked to “Like” this Facebook page? Profanity found me!

At a family gathering over the 4th of July weekend, I met an awesome young lady in her 20’s, who was majoring in aerospace and also raises bees. Her beekeeping was fascinating. But even more fascinating was the way she talked about it. She started the beehive as a school project and her experience sounded both enchanting and harrowing. But even better, she dropped F-bombs like pronouns. I made a point of smiling my approval. The latest generation of adult women uses profanity with no sense of guilt. So the real problem isn’t my cussing. It’s my perceived public stigma against women swearing.

For me, curse words in general and the F-word specifically, are used under two circumstances, for emphasis and under duress. But mostly for the lack of a better word.

For emphasis, sometimes the F-word is the only way to drive a point home. For example, recently, I attended a book launch hosted by Jamie Lee Curtis who dropped the F-bomb with the poise and eloquence of the Duchess of Cambridge. She instantly became my new girl crush. That was an example of the artful F-bomb.

Under duress, the F-word is equally if not more essential. One of my golf buddies observed that when I’m falling apart on a particular hole I yell FUCK! four times and then I’m able to play better again. That’s the formula and substituting a non-expletive won’t work. It’s FUCK x 4 = better golf. That is an example the artless F-bomb.

In my advanced French classes I had to read essays by Montagne and other philosophers and learned that the word essay is derived from the French word essayer, which means to try, or to try out. By writing an essay, we try out ideas. We think them through. It’s a great exercise that I highly recommend to everyone.

Alas, it is unlikely this essay will cure my bad language. But, what the fuck? It’s worth a shot. I’ll let you know if it works.

Please leave a comment* and let me know your experience with profanity.

*Note: Although I usually allow open comments, due to the nature of this blog post all comments will be reviewed before posting. Have fun with it!

POLITICS AS USUAL?

POLITICS AS USUAL?

As we head toward Election Day November 8th, I have to wonder, what are we all fighting for? So we can have more stuff, bigger cars, more guns?

When my nephew was stationed in Afghanistan in 2013, bravely committed to his duties as a Joint Fires Observer seeking out and disarming IED’s, he texted me almost daily to keep me apprised of his safety. But he never once complained and was always self-deprecating and respectful of job. He was face-to-face with the Taliban on a daily basis and even after an IED took the whole engine and front end off of the truck in his convoy, his unwavering courage was awe-inspiring.

In 2010, I began writing my novel, Foliage: An International Bank Spy Thriller, because back in 1990 when I lived in Paris and Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the reasons for the US intervention were clear. It was an amazing time, watching the war live on CNN. But I never forgot during those days in Europe you could sense there was something going on behind the scenes and I always wanted to dig deeper, try to understand.

For my book, the goal was ambitious yet simple, write about complex issues in the form of a novel, with a story that moved forward quickly and was easy to digest. It took four years to write but as anyone who has read it will attest, it is a well-researched and yet not overwhelming look back at the cause of our dependence on fossil fuels, greed.

Another recently released novel, The Mercy Journals by Claudia Casper, presents a mesmerizing look forward, a thoughtful and well-researched study of what is to come if we don’t start getting serious about what we’re doing to our planet. It is an all-too-plausible thesis of the near future, (only thirty years from now, according to Casper), a fresh look, moving, powerful, realistic and devastatingly beautiful. This book ties together the years of building dependence on fossil fuels and the culmination to the inevitable, which is now right in front of us. It explores human nature and our insane inability to learn from our mistakes.

That’s what we all need to think about. What are we doing it all for? There is cause and effect. Continuity. Things happen for a reason. But it’s not just about doing research, watching the news, surfing the Internet or reading a book. It’s about each one of us digging deep and exploring what we really think about what’s going on around us.

Think things through. It’s a simple lesson that I learned in college but one that changed my life. Our individual consciousness is a powerful thing when it makes up the collective consciousness. If we don’t reflect and really think things through individually to understand our own minds, someone else will tell us what we think. Knowing our selves. That’s the least we can do to honor those who have fought so bravely for us all. It’s also a show of respect for all those who devote their lives to public service. Yes I’m talking about politicians. It’s a dirty job, but deep down we know that those who do it have good intentions. Think about it.

Then go to the voting booth this November and be the cause to the effect.

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250-WORD TUESDAYS

250-WORD TUESDAYS

THE CANNES RED CARPET RIDE:
The Kind, The Cruel and The Ugly

PART 1: THE CRUEL

Lorraine Evanoff with friend
Lorraine Evanoff with friend

It was the 43rd Cannes Film Festival and for our new Krzysztof Kieslowski film The Double Life of Veronique, much of the financing would come from pre-sales. We had already sold the biggest territories, so I took one of the red-carpet passes to see Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams. The red carpet was scary enough with a group. Alone required courage and new shoes.

Most of my income went towards my overpriced Paris apartment in the 6th so a colleague loaned me a sexy white dress with a low-cut back and I bought some white strappy mules in a shop below the Gray d’Albion. Not Louboutin, but they’d do. It was chilly, so I threw on a black linen jacket.

I shuffled with the crowd past the photographer pool and up the 20 red-carpeted steps. At the top I took the door on the left to avoid some of the spotlight. But that’s where things went horribly wrong. Two tuxedoed bouncers tssked, wagging their index fingers in that French manner. With a coquettish smile I turned, slipping my jacket down to show them my dress. One of them pointed down to my new shoes, “Pas de pantouffles.”

“Ce sont pas des pantouffles!” I argued. They were calling my shoes slippers! Rejected, but mercifully allowed to wait there until everyone left, I coolly headed back down against the side rail hoping the remaining fans assumed I was staff or press. But nothing could ease my mortification. And I never got to see Dreams.

PART 2: THE UGLY

Left to right: Lorraine Evanoff, Leonardo de la Fuente, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Irene Jacob, Philippe Volter, Slowomir Idziak, Zbigniew Preisner
Left to right: Lorraine Evanoff, Leonardo de la Fuente, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Irene Jacob,
Philippe Volter, Slowomir Idziak, Zbigniew Preisner

Left to right: Lorraine Evanoff, Leonardo de la Fuente, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Irene Jacob,
Philippe Volter, Slowomir Idziak, Zbigniew Preisner
Krzysztof Kieslowski had won the 1989 Cannes Jury Prize for his critically acclaimed Thou Shalt Not Kill from his Decalogue series, launching the Polish director in Western Europe. Ever grateful, Kieslowski asked the Cannon Films buyer Leonardo de la Fuente (and my boss at the time), to produce his next film.

We broke off from Cannon and formed Sideral Productions. Kieslowski’s new script The Double Life of Veronique was originally written with Andie MacDowell in mind. However, MacDowell had accepted a conflicting role in Hudson Hawk so we held an open casting to find a new leading lady, during which Krzysztof discovered Irène Jacob. The resulting beautiful film was selected in Official Competition in the 44th Cannes Film Festival.

Being a producer and also having a small role in the film, I was part of the red carpet cast and crew. We had all assembled to walk the red carpet when there was a commotion. Apparently Irène had run away upset. Moments later, we all reassembled and walked the red carpet, stopping for the flashing cameras, then up the steps, sans incident.

However, later I would learn from the make-up artist what had caused the disruption. It was me! It turns out that Irène felt I looked better than her for the red carpet. We had only worked briefly together as I had a very minor role. But somehow the lead actress, who went on to win the Best Actress Award, was afraid of me, the girl with the slippers.

PART 3: THE KIND

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Left to right: Didier Bourdon, Lorraine Evanoff, John Hurt, Raul Ruiz
Left to right: Didier Bourdon, Lorraine Evanoff, John Hurt, Raul Ruiz

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During the 45th Cannes Film Festival, I was the lead actress of Dark at Noon, in Official Competition. Directed by Raul Ruiz and co-starring John Hurt, David Warner and Didier Bourdon, it was the culmination of months of script rewrites, rehearsals, shooting on location in Portugal and post-production recording of me singing for voice-over.

To prepare, Raul Ruiz (considered the Chilean Buñuel), also suggested I read some surreal literature. Having a degree in French, I was already well versed in Sartre, Breton, Cocteau, etc. so I read Labyrinths by Jorges Luis Borges for some South American surrealism.

But two months shooting in Portugal with the genius French comedian Didier Bourdon and Royal Academy chums John Hurt and David Warner was more than enough surrealism for anyone. Word from the wise, do not tell Hurt and Warner that farts make you laugh. Their antics will have you in tears.

During filming we all became close. There were some affairs as is de rigueur on film shoots. I even knitted a tiny sweater for the newborn son of John and his lovely American wife Joan and we exchanged Christmas cards for years.

But I will never forget our Cannes red carpet, when all of us dressed in formalwear loaded into the limo to be driven less than two blocks to the Palais with paparazzi cameras flashing and fans shouting and John looked me in the eye and with a familial grin said, “Now, this is surreal.”

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Barnes & Noble, DePaul University Loop Campus

Barnes & Noble, DePaul University Loop Campus

THE BOOK SIGNING MYSTERIES (cont.)

As always, mystery and intrigue followed Louise…

In homage to her grandmother who was a DePaul University alum, Louise’s next book signing was at The Barnes & Noble DePaul University Campus in the Chicago Loop.

A podium and a dozen folding chairs were set up in a corner near the main entrance. Louise greeted a few early arrivals while bookstore denizens prowled and students studied near the window hidden by bookshelves, ready to lean in and listen.

A 40ish man bundled in layers of scruffy clothing seated in the second row acerbically posed questions about the International Banking Spy Thriller, “Banks own the government. Are you a banker?” He seemed the quintessential conspiracy theorist and she wondered if she was being filmed for Candid Camera. She didn’t reply but welcomed him with a discerning smile. A round middle-aged woman sitting on the other end of the row behind him gave Louise a cherubic smile. She recalled a similar woman at The Book Cellar the night before, perhaps an angel in a slightly different incarnation?

Louise drifted toward the back row to speak to more guests, when out of the aisles of books stepped a burly man in an overcoat and a German accent who started a spontaneous conversation with her, she wondered if he was a long-lost relative. “Did you know there are two interpretations of this word in Mein Kampf?” he inquired, pointing to a passage in his note-filled copy of the newly released American version. “This word has been commonly misunderstood…”

Having heard about the new publication of Mein Kampf, which had recently entered public domain, she cautiously engaged him in the subject matter. Not having read any version of Hitler’s The Struggle, she had little to contribute to the conversation. As he read the passage out loud it became clear it was about Hitler’s justification for racism that apparently hadn’t been explicit in a prior translation. She had wondered what one could gain out of reading the hateful manifesto, and now she saw the importance of a proper translation.

Both guys could have been cast in this scene by Alfred Hitchcock him self. She loved that Chicago had no shortage of intriguing characters and there seemed to be some vortex pulling them all to this spot at this point in time. The manager caught her eye, beckoning her. The German disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. She took the podium and gave her introduction, right after which the conspiracy theorist resumed hurling pointed questions, “Does the government run the banks?”

“It’s complicated,” she replied. “If you read my book, you’ll see there are a lot of gray areas.” Before he could reply other people quickly posed questions in an attempt to stifle him. Louise continued to field questions back and forth, grateful for the buffering, but holding her own with the conspiracy theorist. After all, this was to be expected with the explosive subject matter of her novel.

Finally the discussion waned and people started purchasing books and approaching her to sign. After the last customer copy plus 10 more for the store were signed she placed the cap on her Sharpie and gathered her things. She thanked the manager, shouldered her bag and exited to meet a girlfriend for drinks. The revolving door thudded and the cold air hit her fully in the face just as a man swung the opposite direction into the store. Something about him was familiar so she stood out in the cold watching him pivot towards the now-empty podium and chairs.

Realizing that the event was over he headed back out through the revolving door just as she was going back in. He rushed east down Jackson towards the El. She spun the door 360 degrees back out after him. He ran up to the platform two steps at a time to catch the arriving train. She hurried, but eyeballing the timing she knew she wouldn’t make it. The doors swooshed open and the man jumped aboard. Looking at his watch as he turned back around, he raised his head just in time to lock eyes with Louise. The doors closed on her and he read her lips, “It’s you…” The train jerked forward and down the tracks.

Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 6:00 PM

Barnes & Noble, DePaul University Loop Campus DePaul Center
1 E Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604 – (312) 362-8792
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/foliage-lorraine-evanoff/1122880933