A few days ago, I had the pleasure of discussing "Cult of the Great Eleven" with Erik Rivenes, host of my favorite podcast, "Most Notorious! A True Crime Podcast." It was a lot of fun, though I admit to sometimes giving longer answers than were probably necessary. Erick was fantastic interviewer and I'd highly recommend his podcast to any lover of true crime history.
The interview can be found on numerous podcast hosting sites. On iTunes, it can be found here:
I've added a few images related to the mysterious Marie Empress case and plan to add a few more in coming days. You can find them at...
Mysterious Miss Empress
I've been working with Ben Granger on the audiobook version of Cult of the Great Eleven, and this weekend he's completed the initial audio recordings. I'm reviewing the files and providing him feedback on portions that might require re-recording, but overall I have to say he's done a superb job and I think everyone will enjoy the final product.
The only thing I'm not sure about is the inclusion of those chapters which are mostly data instead of narratives - for example, the addresses of G11 residents in the 1930s. While useful for reference in a book, I'm concerned it will make for very dry listening in an audiobook. On the other hand, it appears that no one wants an abridged book, so taking that content out could be a bad call. For now I plan on leaving it in.
The Apocalypse Script is also being recorded, but the audio isn't due until the end of June.
I've got a podcast interview coming up, tentatively schedule for June 25th or 26th. More to follow on that.
Also, about a week ago, I published "The Mysterious Miss Empress: Hollywood's Forgotten Film Vampire," which is now linked in my header. Anyone interested in the vaudeville to silent film transition that took place between 1910 and 1920 might find it of interest, though it's focused primarily on the curious life and mysterious disappearance of one of the actresses who made that transition herself.
So yep, staying busy!
I'm using this weekend to dust off a manuscript I worked on a part-time basis for several years. It is a non-fictional account of the mysterious life and more mysterious death of a very early film actress, Marie Empress. She was one of film's first so-called "vampire women" and is almost forgotten today. She vanished under strange circumstances in 1919.
From June 8th thru June 12th, you can download the ebook version of Cult of the Great Eleven free from Amazon. I thought it'd be a good time to get some more copies in circulation and hopefully generate a few more reviews, so if you take advantage of this, and enjoy the book, a review would be appreciated. Thanks - Sam
While browsing through my files, I came across this and thought I'd share it. It's one of the few stills available from Portland's first motion picture, "A Nugget in the Rough," released in 1917. That's a young Ruth Wieland in the middle. This was a few years before she became a cult queen, the "Warder of the Purple Robes." Her mother, May Otis (later May Blackburn) produced the film for the Starlight Film Company. Which, not surprisingly, she owned.
An excerpt from Cult of the Great Eleven, capturing Gale Banks' testimony on the witness stand when asked about the bizarre rituals of the Divine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven:
Banks acknowledged an enigmatic concord known as “The Horse’s Hoof and the Breathing In,” that included the ceremonial pouring of hot water on a horse’s back. He said the ritual had a connection to the film, Hot Water, a Harold Lloyd comedy released in 1924. When asked about the relationship of the film to the concord, he got cagey, stating, “It would take a long time to explain. I would have to sit here a year.”
In fact, there are several peculiar connections between the Harold Lloyd classic and the rituals of the Divine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven. Below is a scene from the film which is one such connection - a bit of an inside joke.
I'm pleased to report that the Cult of the Great Eleven audiobook is coming along nicely. The reader, Ben Granger, has a great film-noir detective voice-over talent, which suits the material perfectly. Project should be done by the end of the month. I've also just initiated the audiobook reading for The Apocalypse Script, which I have high hopes for. I'm also adding a map or so a day on the Cult Locations page.
I'm in the process of adding some scans from a 1925 map of Los Angeles I've obtained, and marking locations that played a role in the development of the Divine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven. Check out the Cult Locations link (Cult Locations). An example is below, which identifies the house at 355 South Grand Avenue, L.A., where May Blackburn (then May Otis) claimed the angel Gabriel appeared to her and her daughter, Ruth. The lower blue circle marks the location of the Rose Room, where Ruth danced for money while "dictating" the angel's apocalyptic book.
I've spent the past three weeks taking auditions from readers for Cult and Apocalypse Script. I'm surprised at how many great readers there are out there! It's not an easy decision. It's also not an inexpensive decision, with readers ranging from $50 PFH (per finished hour) to $200 PFH. The price isn't always relatable to the quality, however.
Picking a reader to work with like choosing a favorite child. But "there can be only one."