Greg Jolley invites us into the strange and oftentimes dark world of the Danser family, sharing insight on movie maker BB Danser, the main character in his new release View Finder, set during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
About the book:
BB Danser, the patriarch of the eccentric and zealous Danser family, narrates his life story in View Finder. Set during Hollywood’s Golden Age of greed, corruption, and scandal, his memoir is one of madness, passion, murder, and his desperate, lifelong effort to escape the confines of real and modern life.
The son of the famous actress Elizabeth Stark, BB is caught in the middle of his parent’s tumultuous relationship and his father’s crushing megalomania and jealousies. Desperate to escape, he becomes obsessed with movie cameras and cinematic storytelling, becoming transfixed with the metaphorical question: Is it better to view or be viewed?
A roller coaster story of hope and vision, BB searches for the truth about himself and his family in a world of industrialized fantasy making.
Who are the Dansers? The best way to describe the Danser family is to think of them as a blend of J.D. Salinger’s Glass family and The Addams Family by Chas Addams. A strange blend of brilliance and obsessions, eccentricity and often visionary madness. A common thread running through many of their lives is a turn to crime, often murder. They are often entangled in conflict, mixing it up with that wonderful one percent of our population who are criminal.
With rare exception, each of the Dansers lives in the gray world between good and evil, often fueled by love or passion or madness, no matter how distorted and twisted. To them, the danse between good and evil is sometimes primary. At other times, they are wickedly sociopathic, focused on their goals with steely determination.
Most of the Danser family work in the movie industry or are criminals (and often both). As a lot, they are known for passions and obsessions, be it criminal or of a visionary bent. They live far outside the norms, preferring to pursue their own ambitions and goals, living in stark contrast to everyday normal behavior. Movie making as a metaphor is a constant in many of their lives, especially BB Danser in View Finder. Film making provides him a means to shape and mold realities in full color cinematic splendor.
Creating the world of the Dansers: The book that best presents the world of the Danser family is the as yet unpublished Cream of the Wheat, which weaves so many of the family members into a single web of intrigue and madness. On the family compound la Diana on the coast near Puerto Mita, Mexico, their collective story began, one novel at a time. As a rule, each of their lives are marked by a disregard for laws and rules and social norms, in favor of pursuing visions of love or hate, obsession and passion.
In the case of View Finder, I created BB Danser’s world within the movie industry, where he moves with ease through the greedy and cruel machine to unfurl his own dangerous visions.
Why are all your novels based upon the fictional Danser family? It is like owning a film studio in the 1950s when a delicious pool of cast members where there for the choosing. A pallet of characters to carefully choose from. All the Danser novels begin with the choice of a family member and then a theme or situation, with the importance of storytelling the guiding structure.
Are the Dansers based on real people or a real family? The Dansers are fictional. My own family is entirely too staid and ‘normal.’ The idea of writing an entire body of work based on this odd, suspect family was made years and years ago. The decision resonated then and still does these days, twenty-four novels in. As a prolific writer of what I call slender novels, this also means I get to shake things up and choose point of view, voice and pace to match and spark the story, which keeps the writes fresh and energetic.
Describe your writing in ten words or less. Sparsely written roller coaster rides through haunted houses of suspense.
Why did you choose to structure View Finder like a memoir? From the very start, View Finder had the structure of a memoir. I knew from the start of the book’s skeleton and the research I did that the best way to tell BB’s life story was in his own words. It’s quite likely that the vicious blow to the head by his father unlocked his channels of vision and obsessions, setting him off on a course sometimes brilliant, sometimes deadly and sometimes both.
As if often the case when working with the Dansers, about halfway into the first draft, BB not so kindly elbowed me aside.
“Type, dummy” were his exact words. “I’ve got a story to tell.”
Whenever I find myself relegated to the family’s typing pool, I know I’m taking part in another of their strange and colorful stories.
Who is your favorite Danser and why? Dead Jared because he is the purest of heart and vision (and because he’s dead. Laugh.). He also put up the best fight to break the norms and rules of society, to live and work within a vision, no matter the cost; to find meaning among the dance of good and evil and madness swirling around him.
You are stranded alone on an island and you have only two books. What books would those be? A 1923 Webster Unabridged dictionary and a Bible (I hear it has many good stories worth re-reading). I have a passion for learning and suscint storytelling so I’m hoping those two works will keep me in a positive state of mind. That said, it’s quite likely my survival will hinge on finding a stick so I can write new Danser stories, even as the waves erase them.
Your bio states you are a student and researcher of historical crime. What sparked your interest? The beautiful lack of technology as we know it these days is a key part. Crime and detection were relatively primitive in the 19th century, which was also a time of cruel injustice and a set of social mores far removed from our current civilized behavior. Cough. It was also a time when human life was cheap and people often lived as though cogs in a machine as the Industrial Age powered up with little regard for human life.
Have you thought about writing an historical crime novel not featuring the Danser clan? After I finish the true crime non-fiction work on the Zuheily Rosado murder, I will be starting the novel that tells the origin of the Danser family, set in 1897, in wild and untamed Florida, a place at the time of wilderness and coastal beauty and opportunity for those with dark souls daring to follow a vision.
Your novels all have a bit of humor and quirkiness to them. Has that come from any particular influence, or is that your own personality? Being eccentric and humorous is the earmark of many brilliant minds (and also the criminally insane. Laugh.). Humor can also be a release valve within suspense, but needs to be handled with care. In general, humor in my genre has a short shelf life, meaning that some of my funniest quips end up on the cutting floor, as do my other precious little darlings.
What is the one thing you would like people to take away after reading View Finder? Pursing dreams and obsessions is admirable and the key to creative brilliance. It can also be the path to insanity and destruction.
What novel are you currently working on? The psycho-drama On the Beach, set in 1959, the year mankind was destroyed by an electro-magnetic pulse. Bo Danser is being pursued by a cold case detective, determined to weed through his tales of historical delusion for clues to solve the murder of the five Sanger children. On the Beach is the third book in the Maison de Danse Quartet, set primary on the Danser family compound on the Florida coast.
Read an Extended Preview of View Finder
Available Formats & Purchasing Information
Hardcover: 978-1-64397-004-2, $24.95
Softcover: 978-1-948540-17-9, $14.95
Ebook: 978-1-64397-005-9, $7.99
Booksellers, Librarians, and Retailers can purchase copies though Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Bertrams, and Overdrive.
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About the Author:
Greg Jolley earned a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco and lives in the very small town of Ormond Beach, Florida. When not writing, he is a student and researcher of historical crime, primarily those of the 1800s. Other Danser books include Murder in a Very Small Town, Malice in a Very Small Town, and Where’s Karen?
To learn more about View Finder and other titles available from BHC Press, visit our website.