Monday, February 23, 2015

The Writers Coffee Shop Presents: The Penthouse by F. Collyer Reed

Release Date: February 19 , 2015
Genre: FICTION / Romance / Erotica
ISBN e-book:  978-1-61213-290-7  
Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH
While having dinner one night in an upscale restaurant, three men well beyond middle age are entranced by a strikingly beautiful young woman who walks by on the arm of a man old enough to be her father. Her scent lingers, intoxicating the trio who stop eating and question how a man of their own age manages to enjoy the pleasures of such an enticing young thing. They wonder who he is, and who she is. As their plates of food grow cold, they decide that she’s too classy and wholesome to be anything other than a gold digger. And they decide they want one of their own.
Between them they can create the fa├žade of one incredibly wealthy man. With access to a penthouse with art worth millions and a Rolls Royce, they decide to take turns being Man of the Evening. One will be a butler/cook. Another the chauffeur. The third a lonely, illusive, incredibly wealthy gentleman. They place a personal ad seeking a woman who dreams of the man they have created – and who doesn’t mind if he’s twice her age. A woman who will shop in trendy boutiques and department stores, and let the chauffeur carry her purchases, and in the evening entertain friends around the dining table, served by the butler.
Wayne Grossman woke up at 6:30 a.m. to the sound of silence. He lay in bed for several minutes, wondering if, now that he was retired, perhaps something was wrong with his hearing. Had he gone deaf overnight? Just then a distant siren wailed to confirm that his hearing was not faulty.
He sat on the edge of the bed to contemplate this odd development. Usually his wife was preparing breakfast by now, but there was no breakfast odor, no clatter of dishes in the kitchen.
He became aware of Helen lying on her side, facing him, one arm outside the blanket. It appeared as though she was fast asleep but there was no color in her face, no rise and fall of breathing.
Wayne sat there for some time, wondering what to do. Finally he said, “Helen.” When there was no response, he raised his voice a little. “Helen. Helen.” He bounced a bit on the edge of the bed. “Helen! Helen!”
When Helen still didn’t respond, he grabbed a handful of blanket and pulled. The way her arm was wrapped around the outside of the blanket caused her entire body to move with the blanket in an unnatural fashion. There was no separate movement of limbs. Helen was stiff as a board.
Wayne went into the bathroom. When he reappeared, he was freshly showered, shaved, and dressed in a dark brown suit, a white shirt, and a dark brown tie. He noted that Helen’s position hadn’t changed.
A creature of habit, Wayne went to the front door to find The Los Angeles Times. He tucked it under his arm and stepped out into his Toluca Lake neighborhood. He ate breakfast promptly at 7 each morning but since there was none waiting for him this morning, he went in search of breakfast.


You have a very colorful bio... did you draw from your upbringing as inspiration for this novel? In what ways were you able to draw parallels between real life and fiction or did you find this a hindrance?

My upbringing or lack of it, along with tough early years on the streets and eventually coming to terms with my own demons, provided me with the inspiration to write. Growing up in Catholic, Episcopal, Christian Holy Roller, military, and British preparatory boarding schools and state-run reform schools without a parent primed me for decades of born-again, devoted rebellion. I never stayed in one place long enough to have real friends or form a personality compatible with my peers, but I was accepted into a community of drug using enthusiast with dysfunctional backgrounds. Blind to the risks of what I was doing or the doomed lives of those who accepted me, I embraced it all. A line in the movie, The Unforgiven, said there are “men without character, not even bad character.” If nothing else those I associated with in my formative youth had character.

In a desperate attempt to be loved I paralleled my life with equally dysfunctional women with totally disastrous results. I managed to survive and I am indebted to those rich-in-character females who provide such wonderful material for me as a writer.

One unforgettable woman was a young prostitute I was seeing who lived on a houseboat in Sausalito, California. In the middle of the night a crazed man, maybe one with an emotional or physical connection to her, burst through her door and began smashing up her place with a hatchet. I thought I was going to die but she calmly got out of bed and threw him out.

On Valentine’s Day I picked her up in my ratty TR-3 sports car with a huge bouquet of flowers for her in the passenger seat. When she saw the flowers the joy on her face, as well as the night of the hatchet attack, were imprinted on my mind. She's probably dead by now but her character is unforgettable. We were two dysfunctional youths who looked to each other for the love we never received elsewhere.

Sometimes a scenario crashes into my consciousness. In The Penthouse the woman who owns the penthouse is real but the rest of the story is pure fiction. I can draw parallels between real life and fiction because my characters are composites of people I met or did drugs with in my youth. I zero in on people’s emotional demons and their dysfunctional relationships, especially men and women who fall into explosive sexual situations as they search for love in their fractured lives. I am quite comfortable pushing boundaries but, at times, I’m reined in by my editor.
One night some years ago I was camped in my VW bus in a remote high desert area of northern Nevada, banging away on my laptop by candlelight, working on a fictional story about a serial killer. I had to stop when I realized I was scaring the shit out of myself, all alone in the middle of nowhere. If I’m not moved by what I write, I can't expect it to move anyone else.

The older I get the more in touch with myself I get and the easier it is to draw upon the train wreck that used to be my life. With age comes wisdom. Real life scenarios can provide a story bank from which to create vivid characters and their stories. My stories are basically born from my past and deal with my own emotional demons and dysfunctional relationships. My advice to new writers? Write what you know.

freed F. Collyer Reed was born with the help of a doctor who certified the health of prostitutes in a Nevada brothel. Raised by his mother and numerous “aunts,” he remembers times when he awoke at night to see his mother engaged in her trade.
Eventually she married a wealthy miner client and they moved to San Francisco. His stepfather died when he was eight. In less than a decade his mother’s life had transformed from working at a rural Nevada brothel servicing mine owner-operators and ranchers to a life in the wealthy Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco where her son was a reminder of the past as well as a social liability. She sent him to various boarding and military schools, including a British finishing school, a Christian Holy Roller school (his words), Catholic Reform, and state reform school.
In Reed’s words, “I’m lucky to have lived through my youth. Any drug I liked I used in excess, and I liked them all.”
A sober Reed and his artist wife live on a cruising sailboat in the San Francisco Bay Area with her pit bull and a cat. When not writing, he’s an avid motorcyclist and shares his passion for bicycles and sailing with his wife.


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