Wednesday, April 8, 2015


You may have come here from the new landing page that the good folks at Harper Collins/Ecco have created to help spread the word about Water to the Angels:  William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct and the Rise of Los Angeles.  Or maybe you were looking for the order form for the executive model of the Hurricane Floor Mop.  In any case, I am glad you dropped by.  I am not the greatest blogger--my excuse is that I only have so many words in me--but I keep vowing to do better.  I will start my promised semi-regular posts having to do with the launch of WTA by pointing out that when I started work on this book four years or so ago, there was no drought in California (well, aside from the fact that California has basically always been in a drought compared to Eastern states).  I simply wanted to write the story of the formidable accomplishments of a character who my research showed me was one of those larger-than-life types from another era, a man who conceived of and built the most significant civil engineering project in American history:  the Los Angeles Aqueduct.  When I began working on this project I did not know the full contours of Mulholland's achievement.  I was simply guided by a chance comment made by Robert Towne, Academy Award winning screenwriter of CHINATOWN shortly after that terrific film came out in 1974.  Towne's statement (says my failing memory) was something to the effect of, "I wish I could have told the true story behind Chinatown because that is as fascinating as what we made up."  That comment stuck with me for many years until it was time to begin a new book, and when I began to dig into the historical record, I saw exactly what Towne meant.  All this Chinatown material forms one of the later chapters in my book, so if you are intrigued, there is just one more reason to go buy your copy now.  One thing I will tell you is that, as I suggested to Towne when he and I talked, the real William Mulholland (he was a colorless pipsqueak called Hollis Mulwray in the film) was the same imposing, powerful type as was bad guy Noah Cross (John Houston).  I wondered to Towne if he might have derived his portrayal of Cross from the real-life Mulholland.  "I never thought Mulholland was a bad guy," was all the answer I got.  More to come, including a breathless blow by blow account of the author's tour through California, including a stint at the Los Angeles Festival of Books on Sunday, April 19.

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