Lions and Gondolas
Venice in Books A-C
Venice in Books D-K
Venice in Books L-P
Venice in Books Q-Z
Quotations about Venice
Free Venice Beachhead
headlines August 1977-October 1985
30 Years Ago
in the Free Venice Beachhead
Free Venice Beachhead Archives
Beachhead Archives 1982
Beachhead Archives 1983
1914-1916 Part 1
1914-1916 Part 4
1914-1916 Part 5
People of Venice (from Beachhead)
Windward Avenue Articles
Art in the Beachhead
from the Beachhead
From magazines in the
From other print
Tales of the Blue Meanie
by Allan Cole
Another Chapter from
Tales of the Blue Meanie by Allan Cole
Venice Historical Society
1969 Police Riots
Jack the Liar
the Destinys Consent website
Laura Shepard Townsend
Note from the Webslave:
As a ten-year-old, I inveigled the neighbor kids into
helping to act out my fantasy life by playing Gypsies. We dressed in bright
ragbag discards and even the boys wore earrings. We pulled around a wagon
piled with our scant worldly goods and picked weeds to grind between stones
and mix into potions. We read each others palms and made secret
chalk marks on the neighbors steps to signify "Unfriendly farmer
- get away quick!"
Second only to Venice, Gypsies have always been the
most interesting topic in the world to me. Imagine my delight upon hearing
about a series of four novels combining both of my favorite obsessions
in a breathtakingly audacious adventure tale. Starting in the benighted
Old World, Destinys Consent moves its bold women characters to Venice
in the Abbot Kinney era.
A lot went on in the world during the early years of
the 20th century: an all-encompassing war; an unbelievably murderous epidemic;
the birth of aviation, the movies, and the empowerment of women through
the vote. Angelica Grastende, the main character in the Destinys
Consent series, is born on July 4, 1905 - the same day as Venice, California,
the city she is destined to find and love.
INTERVIEW WITH LAURA SHEPARD TOWNSEND
Having devoted eight years of
her life to two books (out of a series of four), the author says a few
more words here.
Tell me about Volume One, The Gypsys Song.
The Gypsy's Song is a grand adventure, history, and an exploration
of what can happen when one is forced to abandon one's life, and perhaps
one's soul. The whole series is, on another level, a self-help guide,
brought to you in the form of an extraordinary, vastly enjoyable story
with indelibly memorable characters.
It starts where?
Destiny's Consent begins in France, close to where the trenches
of WWI (The Great War) are fingering into the countryside, squeezing the
Rom...In her klan, only Angelica is bothered by the gadje's hostility
towards the Rom whenever they settle in a meadow with their horses and
wagons for a little water and grass... or when they enter a town to sell
their copper, to play their music, to tell fortunes. The gadje
faces always contracted into hatred against the Rom. Angelica also wonders
why the Rom always just leave when confronted, instead of standing up
against the gadje. Finally, tragedy strikes and she and her family
are forced on an odyssey to America.
And where does Venice, California enter the story?
In the second book, Lions and Gondolas.
Angelica's mother is a lion tamer, which has some historical precedent
- there actually was a woman lion tamer in Venice close to the time of
my story. Howard Hughes is in the cast, with a surprising relationship
to Angelica, when they are but children. Abbot Kinney appears as a character
- I've taken some liberties with Kinney, but he was so advanced in terms
of women's rights, free love, environmental issues, and wanting to have
a Renaissance city in stuck-in-the-mud America...so I think my liberties
are all very appropriate.
Ive read that Kinney was a supporter of eugenics, which rightly
or wrongly, is generally considered tantamount to being a racist. Would
the real Kinney have hung around with a Gypsy girl?
As far as Kinney was concerned, I have understood that he left his house
to Irving Tabor, his black chauffeur. Now Irving could not live on Grand,
the grandest street in Venice, so he had to move the house to the black
ghetto area. Surprising since Kinney had plenty of family to leave his
house to---I believe he was anti-racist. In my book, I have him extraordinarily
not racist. For his first reading assignment for Angelica, after she quits
school, is Ivanhoe, so she can see prejudice does not only apply
to women and dark skinned people, but to Jews, etc.
And how about the third and fourth volumes of the set?
Volumes three and four are glamorous and fun. Venice is definitely there
with the discovery of oil and its demise-- oil derricks, and the filling
in of the canals. Angelica is cavorting on the gambling ships off the
coast of Venice, and works as an extra in many of the epic films of the
1920's. The story also intersects with the real-life and widely reported
disappearance of evangelist Aimee Semple MacPherson, who was feared drowned
in the ocean off Venice. Hughes and Angelica reconnect, and she is one
of the pilots who flies to create the sound track for Hell's Angels,
Hughes' epic flying film. Because of The Jazz Singer, Hughes decided
he had to convert the silent film into a talkie, complete with a sound
track. Along with Venice, the locations for this book are Hollywood, Los
Angeles, Coconut Grove, and the Hearst Castle.
In the fourth and final volume, Angelica's Gypsy sorceress
grandmother returns to connect Angelica to her destiny as shuvani
(Rom witch). She teaches Angelica the ancient lore including the Tarot,
the use of herbs and the old ways of healing. Angelica faces more than
one wrenching choice here - but I don't want to give away too much.
Do you have a notion of influence from a previous incarnation, or anything
of the sort?
Yes, I do believe either the story was channeled in, or I was Rom in a
former lifetime. Why else, this story? Why else this character? Why this
time frame? Lots of stories would have been so much easier to tell. Just
the research took years, eons of time. I dreamed much of the story, and
when I began researching it, the timing was all right on. Darned eerie.
And I kept wondering why the Rom? Romantic, yes, Rogues, yes, despised,
yes.....too despised. I kept reading more and more until I finally found
Jan Yoors' book and I knew his concept of the Rom, because he loved the
Rom, to be the correct assessment of these extraordinary nomads.
The Rom think all other people to be gadje, in other words, not
Rom. If you are black, yellow, red or white, you are still gadje.
The Rom are nomads, people who have CHOSEN not to have property. They
feel themselves to be entitled by God, to take whatever they encounter
in their path, on their road, for their own use. They are still in the
hunter/gatherer mode of existence, and the gadje, are, in a sense,
the hunted. The Rom have a mythology built up around this--a story about
a king of Rom who was designated by the Roman soldiers to forge the nails
to crucify Christ. Four of them. The king of Rom refused, but was beaten
until he agreed. As he forged the nails, he wept and prayed. When he heard
the soldiers approach, in a panic, he swallowed the fourth nail, the nail
meant for the heart of Jesus. It is because of this king of Rom's bravery,
that God stated fthat or all time that the people of Rom were his chosen
people and could roam as they wished, taking what they needed.
You are one of the new wave of writers who choose self-publication.
The Gypsy's Song was published with the print-on-demand publisher
Authorhouse. Traditional publishers pay next to nothing, take ALL of the
rights and backbill you if the book, which the stores bury in the stacks,
gets no legs. A horrible racket for beginners. By self-publishing, I have
the opportunity to build the series, step by step. I also retain all of
the rights. Since the story is quite cinematic, this is a definite advantage
to someone like me.
How do you manage distribution?
The book is available anywhere online.
I have sent off the book to the Gipsy Kings, since I want them to definitely
supply the music for the film/miniseries. My first signing is April 28th
at Village Books in Pacific Palisades, the launch!! With a raffle for
the Gipsy Kings acoustical CD, Roots, and with the terrific flamenco
guitarist, Charles Henry Schwartz, and dancer Patricia Purwin. I'm giving
a talk on the Rom in the early 20th century. Then May 6th I'm at Duttons
Brentwood. I will soon be traveling all over the west coast, and knocking
on the doors of Hollywood. I'm having a blast.
V.V.: Thank you for
the sneak peek at the upcoming books in the series, and it is my sincere
hope to be one of the very first readers of Lions
the Destinys Consent website!