Welcome to another interesting and insightful guest post hosted here on Always Trust In Books. Today I have Jessica Brockmole sharing her piece ‘Women In Hollywood’. I enjoyed this post so much, giving us some insights into Jessica’s process of creating lead characters in her upcoming release ‘Woman Enters Left’. Jessica’s novel sounds brilliant and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy later this year. First I will share a few details about Jessica and Woman Enters Left, then I will share the guest post with you all!
About Jessica Brockmole
Jessica Brockmole wrote her debut novel Letters from Skye while she was living in Edinburgh having visited the Isle of Skye. She enjoys getting lost in secondhand bookstores and can often be found sifting through odd bits of ephemera and calling it ‘research’. Jessica now lives in Indiana with her husband and two children.
Synopsis for Woman Enters Left
1952. B-list movie star Louise Wilde’s acting career has stalled and her marriage is on shaky ground when she learns she’s inherited the entire estate of screenwriter Florence Daniels, a woman she has never met. Her confusion grows when she discovers a cache of old photographs of MsDaniels with her late mother.
1926. Two friends, Ethel Wild and Florrie Daniels, embark on a cross-country adventure in Florrie’s Model T. Florrie is moving to Hollywood while Ethel is trying to catch up with her husband in Nevada before he’s able to start divorce proceedings.
Told through diary entries, letters and film scripts, these three women’s parallel stories and road trips see them journeying towards answers and destinations they never expected.
Women In Hollywood by Jessica Brockmole
I’m fascinated by the Golden Age of Hollywood, with its sprawling studio lots, lavish productions, lush lifestyle, big personalities, and publicist-manufactured drama. In WOMAN ENTERS LEFT, I have two characters who bookend the Golden Age of Hollywood: Florrie, who arrives as a hopeful scenario writer in 1926, and Louise, who leaves in the 1950s as a jaded actress still shaking off the weights of the studio system.
The twenties were pre-Code and were largely pre-talkie, an era of pioneers both behind and in front of the camera. Surprising for an age where few worked outside of the home, many of those pioneers were women. The film industry was still figuring itself out and roles in the fledgling studios were not yet gendered. This changed by the thirties, when the studio system—a near monopoly by a few large studios, who tightly controlled the film production process and the people involved—began dominating Hollywood. With a system increasingly based on power and personal connections, it became harder for women to break into departments and roles they’d previously held.
After reading about some of the pioneering women in early Hollywood—ambitious and multifaceted women like Dorothy Arzner, Anita Loos, Frances Marion, Mary Pickford, and Marion Wong—I was inspired to write about a female director struggling to be taken seriously in a male-dominated profession. I knew that it would resonate with modern audiences, when the dearth of women in film production is unfortunately still a relevant and important discussion.
But when I decided to set that character—who eventually became Louise—in 1952, I needed to change my story. As few women as there were behind the camera in the silent era, there were even fewer in the next few decades.
That’s not to say that there weren’t determined and successful women in Hollywood throughout the thirties and forties, but many had been shut out of production roles with the advent of the studio system, which confined women to particular departments. These were mostly clerical or literary—typing, reading scripts, researching, checking script continuity—or jobs focused more on production than creativity—wardrobe, negative cutting, film patching. This paralleled the more national mood both before and after World War II that encouraged carefully proscribed gender roles and rewarded domesticity.
So the strong-minded director I had intended to write became Louise, an equally strong-minded actress, who has had enough with the gendered boxes Hollywood has kept her in. Her fight is still the fight of many women in the film industry today, for diversity of roles, for equal access to all areas of film-making, for greater representation both behind the camera and on the screen. We still have a ways to go, but studying the history of the film industry reminds me, thankfully, of how far we have come.
I hope you all enjoyed that great piece about Jessica’s process for writing about a female director in the Golden Age Of Hollywood. Thank you to Jessica for taking the time to share some details of her upcoming release Woman Enters Left with us all. Thank you for stopping by today and I hope to see you again soon. Until next time, Happy Reading!