The Starlite Drive-in: A Novel

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9780062092649: The Starlite Drive-in: A Novel

“A captivating novel.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Reynolds creates a genuine and engaging young narrator...and maintains heat and suspense on every page.”
Detroit Free Press

A mystery, a coming of age novel, a tragic love story, a rich evocation of a memorable time and place in America, The Starlite Drive-In by Marjorie Reynolds is all of these things and more. The author returns readers to the summer of 1956 in this riveting story that reviewers have enthusiastically compared to the Harper Lee classic, To Kill a Mockingbird—as the arrival of a handsome drifter at a rundown drive-in movie theater inflames dangerous passions and jealousies, and changes a young girl’s life forever.

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From the Author:


It's unlikely I would have ever written a novel if I hadn't lost my job in the early 1990s. I was Cineplex Odeon's advertising director for the Northwest region, and life was good. Then, they shut down the entire Seattle office, and I was suddenly out of a job. I hated getting up each morning to look for a new one, so I decided to write a novel instead. I had a degree in journalism. After college, I'd worked for daily newspapers in Indiana, Iowa, California and Washington, and I was a big reader. How hard could writing a book be? I realize now how incredibly naive and cavalier I was. 

I shut myself in a room all day and wrote and wrote and wrote. It was the most fun I'd ever had and I was sure I'd written the great American novel, but when I sent it out, I couldn't find an agent or an editor to agree with me. In despair, I spent three days in bed, during which I got pretty sick of myself. Eventually, I got up to write another novel, but I approached this one differently. I took a fiction writing class, read books on the craft, analyzed authors' techniques in my favorite novels and attended the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conferences. And I took the advice that says write what you know. I knew the movie business (I'd worked in movie advertising for fifteen years), drive-in theaters and Indiana, where I'd grown up. Writing THE STARLITE DRIVE-IN was like opening a spigot. 

Shortly after finishing it, I acquired an agent and, a few months later, a major New York publisher, William Morrow & Co. I became the poster child for the next PNWA conference. 

  My life changed dramatically. One good thing after another happened. Before it was on the shelves, it sold through its advance, was optioned for film and was chosen a Literary Guild alternate. A few months later, it was named a Barnes & Noble "Discover Great New Writers" book, sold to seven countries and received praise in The New York Times, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and numerous other newspapers and publications. It was as though I had stepped across a line: I was now a published writer and people treated me differently. They acted like I was a smarter, more interesting person I'd been just a few months before. 

There were several priceless moments along the way. The first occurred after I'd sent my parents an advance copy of The Starlite Drive-in. My mother wrote me the following note.
"Dear Marjie,
It is a good book. If all the cussing and some of the sex were out of it, it would be a very good book. 
Love,
Mom
 
My mother passed away several years ago but I still have her framed note on my bookshelf.

The second occasion was when I received an invitation to attend a Literary Guild party in the New York Waldorf Astoria's Starlight Room, which coincidentally occurred on my birthday. It was one of those evenings when all the planets and moons moved into alignment. 

The third highlight took place when my agent and I visited the New York office of my paperback publisher, Berkley. When we introduced ourselves to an older woman who sat behind a desk in the reception area, she leapt from her chair and hugged me, saying she had read my novel and loved it. Considering all the novels that must have passed through her hands, I was as thrilled as she was.

The fourth highlight was the avalanche of notes and letters I received from readers. I had no idea people would care enough to write. Many told me about their nostalgic memories of childhood and drive-in theaters. Most of them suggested actors and actresses to play the novel's characters on the screen. I wrote back to as many readers as I could and thanked them.
  
HarperCollins, which now owns the rights to THE STARLITE DRIVE-IN, contacted me recently to inform me the book will be released in a new edition in late November. I feel as though it's been given a second life, and I hope an entirely new generation will enjoy it. THE CIVIL WARS OF JONAH MORAN has been published on Kindle, so that's another thrill. And, I'm working on a new novel, IDEAL BEACH, set in 1950 in Indiana. Life is good again.
 

From the Back Cover:

When human bones are discovered on the grounds of the old Starlite Drive-in, only Callie Anne Benton knows the identity of the victim who mysteriously disappeared thirty-six years ago.

It’s the sweltering summer of 1956 when a handsome drifter named Charlie Memphis arrives at the Starlite to help Callie Anne’s injured father run the theater. Both she and her mother, Teal, fall for Memphis’s rugged style and gentlemanly manners, but Callie Anne’s father—bitter in his role as caretaker for the rural drive-in and his agoraphobic wife—doesn’t like the drifter’s increasing interest in Teal.

A disastrous turn of events changes their lives forever, and it’s up to the grown-up Callie Anne to unlock the secret of the decades-old mystery.

Told through the voice of Callie Anne, a whip-smart tomboy reminiscent of Scout Finch, The Starlite Drive-in is a vivid snapshot of 1950s America. A compelling novel infused with hope, tragedy, and suspense, Callie Anne’s story will strike a chord with readers both young and old.

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