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Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of Sketchandtravel.com  and  Bookpleasures.com  is pleased to have as our guest, author  William A.Gordon.

 


William has authored:
 
The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book:    Shot On This Site:    Four Dead In Ohio:   and   The Quotable Writer.

 




Good day William and thank you for agreeing to participate in our interview.

 

 

William: I am very happy to do it.

 

Norm:


Could you tell us about yourself, and
when did your passion for writing begin? What kept you going?

 

William: 

 

I started writing when I was eight and was pretty prolific in my pre-teen years. I used to study the "Hardy Boys" novels and then wrote a couple of my own. I was a big TV fan, and not only wrote mock-up scripts, but used to plan what were then 39-week seasons with plotlines and everything.

 

 I guess I was an aspiring producer in my teeny-bopper years. I gave up writing for a number of years, and then returned to it in college, where I wrote for the UCLA Daily Bruin. I subsequently transferred to Kent State and wrote my first book on the 1970 shootings and trials. It took me almost eight years to write the book, and another nine to get it published, but after that things fell into place, and I wrote three more books.

 







Norm: 

 

Two of the books you authored are The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book and Shot On Site. Why were you interested in writing these books? Can you explain some of your research techniques, and how you found sources for your books?

 

William:

 

 I wrote these books after Four Dead in Ohio was published in 1990. I needed to do something radically different, and more appealing to the general public. And since I always loved driving around L.A. (L.A. is my Paris), I wrote the tour book almost on a lark. That one that jump-started my career, and Shot on This Site was essentially a spin-off book. It covered movie locations throughout the United States, whereas the Hollywood book pointed tourists toward movie and TV sites in L.A., among other attractions.

    

Having a background in investigative journalism prepared me to segue into investigative sightseeing. I'd interview real estate agents and Hollywood historians to find out who lived where when; and browse through celebrity biographies to get more background information on the stars and their homes.

 

I'd also go to the county assessor to confirm property records, and the L.A. permit office to find records of who was permitted to film where in L.A. Plus I had friends in the entertainment industry who would take me to some of the places tourists never found out. My favorites include some of the sites that inspired songs and the so-called "Flying Saucer" house in the Hollywood Hills.

 

Norm:

 

What celebrity owns the largest house in L.A.?  The most expensive: The most disappointing?

 

William:

 

      The largest house is owned by Aaron Spelling, the producer who brought is "Charlie's Angels," "Dynasty," "Melrose Place," and lots of schlock. He bought the old Bing Crosby estate for $10 million, tore it down, and then built a 123-room, 56,000-square-foot, $40 million mansion on the site. It's larger than the Taj Mahal or roughly 31 times the size of the average American home.

 

      He does not own the most expensive house in L.A., though. That distinction belongs to David Geffen, one of the founders of DreamWorks. He bought the old Jack Warner estate for $47.5 million. Ironically, he spends most of his time at his beach house in Malibu, where he just lost a fight with environmental activists who had to sue him to live up to an agreement whereby he would allow beachgoers access to the public beach next to his house.

 

      The most disappointing house--at least for a celebrity of his magnitude--belongs to Jack Nicholson. He has a very modest ranch house, although he does own other homes for his children and exes.

 

Norm:

 

If you were to choose 5 Hollywood venues for a wedding, provided the venue was available to rent, which ones would you choose and why?

 

William:

 

      If you are into castles, there is a castle known as the Friedman castle on Hollyridge Drive in the Hollywood Hills. It is sometimes been rented out for weddings, as is the "Dynasty" house in Pasadena. It's also rented out for corporate parties and been in quite a few movies.

 

      There are also a few hotels, including the Bel-Air Hotel, which has a storybook quality to it, and both of the Ritz-Carltons in Pasadena and Marina del Rey. 

 

Norm:

 

How have you used the Internet to boost your writing career?

 

William: 

 

The Internet really helps my publishing career as opposed to my writing career. The publishing listservs I belong to give me some visibility and I do like giving advice to writers who are in the same boat I was in. I hate to see people make the same mistakes I did when I first started out. 

  

Norm:

 

Why are people so interested in visiting celebrity homes, and why do they want to see where films have been shot?

 

William:

 

 People are fascinated--in fact, probably a little too fascinated--with celebrities and their lifestyles. Looking at homes owned by celebrities is probably no different than visiting presidential homes or libraries. It's the closest most people ever get to power, and being a celebrity is a form of power.

 

As for the movies, I always get a kick out of seeing places I've lived near, being featured on the silver screen. And so do a lot of people. However, if you visit some of the sites after the fact and see them close-up, you can come away disappointed. The big screen does wonders for conventional homes.

 

Norm:

 

Could you indicate to our readers 5 venues such as hotels, parks, etc where celebrities have been married and who were these celebrities?

 

William:

 

 The better known celebrities tend not to get married in houses of worship 

anymore--at least not in Los Angeles itself. They seem to be getting married more and more at large private homes (Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears are two recent example), and I think the reason for that is to protect their privacy. The Bel-Air Hotel is a popular venue for those who are on the "B" list, as is the Beverly Hills Hotel . . .

 

Norm:

 

Do you recommend other writers find a niche or specialty? What have been the rewards for you?

 

William:

 

Yes, and I think not having a niche has not helped my career. My tastes are too eclectic, and that is not necessarily a good thing.

 

Norm;

 

 What is next for William A. Gordon and is there anything else you wish to add to our interview?

 

 

William:

 

At the moment I am in between books, but I still sell my "Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book" year in and year out, and I am happy that "Four Dead in Ohio" has been adopted in a number of college courses. Right now I am selling databases to publishers and publicists and looking for my next project.

 

Norm:

 

What is your web site?

 

William:

          www.nrbooks.com.

 

Thanks and good luck with all of your future endeavors.

 

Visit travel writer and editor Norm Goldman at sketchandtravel.com - click here



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