James Ellroy once said to me, “Go to the museums, the out of the way art galleries, the people in the park, any park, and talk to everyone. That’s where you’ll get your stories and that’s where you get ideas.” I have no quarrel with that. After I stopped shaking because I was meeting a literary “star” I realized he was interested in the common man, woman, the everyday person whose story was on its face boring, but whose psychological makeup was anything but.
In Hot Shot, my protagonist, Tyler West, is depressed. He starts out depressed, lonely, unsure of himself, angry, a real Borderline Personality. He’s tried the drugs, the alcohol, the sex addiction, and now he’s lodged into gambling which turns out to be his worst nightmare yet.
He lost everything. His girlfriend, his money, his life savings, his friends and almost his family—because there is one woman who still wants to see him---his mother, Sue, and then I wondered, “Where am I going with this?” Honestly, the way I write---I start out never knowing where I’m going with a book. I start with an idea and I always know the ending, always the ending. Like, this one is going to be about gambling. Okay, okay, what do I know about gambling? Well, I love Vegas. I love to watch some cowboy with a gut hanging over his belt, come in wearing a white Stetson hat and sit down at a $10,000 buy in table and literally put down $10,000 dollars!!
I freak out. I do. Who lives like that? My mind goes over all the things I could buy for that much money and why is it so important for this man to chance it all? Then that leads from one place to another. And then I just tell myself the entire story. After that, what most of our colleagues call “Panstering” I will do the outline. Because by then I know the story.
Then chapter one leads to chapter two, and so on. But when I first met the real “Tyler West” the pseudonym for a guy I worked with, I had no idea he was going to end up winning the World Series of Poker. I mean how many people do that? Then that led me to researching the book. Oh, poor me. I had to go to Las Vegas for a weekend, stay at New York, New York, eat all that glorious food, and wind my way to the Rio where the poker series takes place.
What an arena---the size of about five football fields with tables bunched up against each other and six chairs to a table and rows upon rows of lighting above. It’s daunting. I spoke to some players who had lost, some guards who explained how the series worked and even a winner of three million dollars.
It's always good for me to go anywhere at Christmas time, too. I love Christmas and as a child, my mother always had a very ornamental tree with gobs of presents under it. And at an early age I realized, a good novel must have a Christmas or holiday scene, a rain scene, a love scene and a death scene. Pretty good for a 10-year-old, but those were the stories I liked to read. Especially Dickens.
I discover along with him what’s going to happen next. When the book is finished, it’s generally around 315 pages, I re-read it and go where the book takes me. So, let me end by saying, along with your central plot, the added texture of a time and place really enhances a story.
November 1, 2016
Payback is a powerful thing...
Actor and bartender, Tyler West experiences a sudden streak of luck -- winning poker games. Determined to change his life, he enters the World Series of Poker. His life is suddenly turned upside down when the Russian mafia fronts him 1.5 million dollars to play at the tables. And then...he loses…
Now on the ride of his life, deceit and deception are his key to uncovering the truth. He must recoup the money, but will it come at a price? Can he stay alive long enough or will his time run out?
About the Author:
Stefanie Stolinsky, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and forensic psychologist with a private practice in Beverly Hills, California. She specializes in trauma, adults sexually, physically and emotionally abused as children, and PTSD. She is an international speaker and has taught training seminars in overcoming the aftereffects of child abuse. She has also taught licensing examinations to candidates for both marriage, family and child counseling and for the psychology licenses.
She began her career as an actress in motion pictures, television and stage and created a unique therapy combining acting exercises with psychodynamic psychotherapy to help survivors of all kinds of trauma overcome the aftereffects of abuse. The first edition of "ACT IT OUT" was a top seller for over nine years. A second edition of the popular book was launched in April of this year and is available on Praeclarus Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.
She is also the author of several award-winning short stories including her newest short story anthology, DATE NIGHT, and numerous comedy mystery. Dr. Stolinsky lives with her husband in Los Angeles.