Published in Black Mountain News, September 30, 2015
SHELLY FROME’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL, MURDER RUN,
IS GREAT READING FUN
By Myra Schoen
Writer Shelly Frome’s new mystery novel, Murder Run, debuts this week. To celebrate publication, the author will read excerpts from the new book and sign copies on Thursday, October 8 at Black Mountain Center for the Arts at 6:30 p.m.
Murder Run follows the path of amateur sleuth Jed Cooper, caught up in a mystery surrounding the sudden death of his reclusive employer, Ms. Julie, a fragile, 39-year-old choreographer, in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills. Cooper’s unwelcome meddling endangers his own life as he probes the seedy underworlds of crime, drugs, human trafficking, and shady theater doings while dealing with his own grief.
“While the characters and plot of the book are fiction, the impulse behind it isn’t,” said Frome, who moved to Black Mountain two years ago from Connecticut, after his wife of 50 years passed away suddenly.
“The loss of someone you love is profound,” he said. “Although the tone of the book is intended to entertain readers, with twisty spins and turns and fast pacing, the writing of it helped to express deeply personal feelings.”
Like the novel’s Ms. Julie, Frome’s wife had been a choreographer and dancer. “We met in Vermont in summer stock theater when we were very young, and fell in love,” he said. “She was the only pure person I ever knew.”
As his friends and colleagues agree, Frome is a natural yarn-spinner and storyteller, and frequently writes profiles for Black Mountain News and is also a film columnist for Southern Writers magazine. He is a prolific writer of fiction and nonfiction works. His recent fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter, and Tinseltown Riff. A playwright and former actor, Frome’s nonfiction works include The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of writing for screen and stage.
Retired as a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, Frome’s early experience as an actor provides Murder Run with a gritty setting of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, home of the legendary Actors Studio.
Frome grew up and went to high school in Miami where, he said, it was the stuff of stories – movies, radio, comic books – that filled his head, made him feel alive, and inspired him to pursue acting and writing.
Frome describes himself as a “wonder child,” who always had to figure out what life is all about. Frome’s father died when the boy was three, and his mother uprooted the boy from their Massachusetts home and plunked him down in Miami.
“My mother’s approach to parenting was ‘fend for yourself,’ or ‘unparenting,” he said. “I didn’t say ‘what if’ as I grew up,” he said. “I wanted to know, to take a chance and see for myself.
“Early on, I wanted to become an actor,” he continued. “People around me said, ‘No real man does that.’ ‘No one around here does that.’ So I knew that acting was a risk, not safe, not predictable, but it didn’t matter.”
Yet told to be realistic and practical, Frome agreed to attend law school in Tucson, Arizona. “But my heart was so set on acting that my fellow students actually took up a collection to send me to Greenwich Village in New York,” he said.
From theater roles in Manhattan to summer stock in Vermont, to directing and writing plays in London, New York, and Los Angeles to a writing career and 35-year professorship in Connecticut, Frome’s life has been filled with the elements of his fiction – romance, excitement, and risk.
But when he discovered Black Mountain, he thought, “This is a nice place with nice people,” and he felt safe, nestled in the mountains, and perfectly at home.
He laughs and recalls meeting Realtor Dawn Wilson while house-hunting in Black Mountain. “She told me, ‘We decided to adopt you.’ And that’s how I feel, that the town’s adopted me.”
Still a “wonder child,” Frome retains the refreshing sense that life is continually surprising. And to those who know him, he meets life with warmth, openness, and great good humor.
9/21/15 5:08 PM