Jon Lindstrom is best known for his roles on General Hospital as Kevin Collins and his serial killer twin, Ryan Chamberlain. Hey, it’s a soap opera, after all!
These iconic performances earned him four Emmy award nominations and earned him roles in countless other films and TV shows. You may have heard his voice in other places too – as an audiobook narrator! Now he’s not only authored his own thriller novel, but he also voices its many iconic characters.
In our interview with Lindstrom about his book, Hollywood Hustle, he shares how his Hollywood experiences influenced the characters, the setting, and his narration.
You’re both the author and narrator of this book, which is a unique aspect of the audiobook, especially since it’s fiction and you get to bring these characters to life with your narration. Did you hear the characters’ voices while you were writing them and were able to replicate that while narrating? Or did the voices take shape while you were working on narrating the audiobook?
Being an actor all my life, I guess I can’t help but hear voices (don’t call the men in the white coats … yet) when I’m writing.
I certainly try to create a different personality for each character when I narrate any book that can be distinguished from the others, and I did the same for [Hollywood Hustle]. But I also believe that narration should be an easy listen, and so I try my best to keep those differences as subtle as possible. Otherwise, I think it can sound too much like a “performance” and be jarring for a listener.
The characters in Hollywood Hustle have rich backstories. How did you develop those and did they affect how their voices sounded in the audiobook narration?
I’ve known some version of everyone in the book. For example: the stuntman, Grover Washington, is based on an actual top stuntman I first worked with many years ago named Manny Perry. As in the book, Manny was actually scouted on Muscle Beach in Venice to be the stunt double for Lou Ferrigno in the original Incredible Hulk television series.
As for the villains, I’ve come across versions of them, as well. LA attracts all kinds.
How did your personal experience in Hollywood shape the book?
It’s kind of a love/hate thing. Jim Morrison sang “No one here gets out alive,” and since The Doors are so associated with LA, he could have easily been singing about Hollywood.
The town takes a toll on everyone, but the rewards can be gargantuan. I’ve enjoyed many triumphs and great loves here, but I’ve also endured terrible, costly setbacks. Those can feel like body blows, and over time they leave internal injuries.
I love the quotes from Winston at the beginning of each section! How did you come up with each quote and the different movies that Winston had been a part of?
Thank you! The concept was mine, but I had originally used actual film quotes from great Noir films that I love; The Asphalt Jungle, The Lineup, Out of the Past, Detour, but that also created a problem with copyright. So, the first person to do an edit, my friend Paula O’Byrne, who is also a Pulitzer-winning journalist, gave me the idea to just come up with my own. It was a perfect solution.
LA as the backdrop of the story is almost its own character within the book. How did your experience with the city inspire you as you wrote the book, and also when you narrated it?
LA is a character unto itself. Just ask any reader of Michael Connelly’s books.
The vast expanse of this town creates travel challenges. I mean they’re almost oppositional, every single day. It’s just hard to get anywhere until you learn the layout. It’s why I’m much less social here than anywhere else and explains why Winston is just fine spending time alone in his mountain home. He’s just as plugged in from there as he would be living on the Sunset Strip.
There is great beauty all around you in the form of palm trees and endless sunlight and blue sky, but it is a deceptively dangerous city. The darkness is lurking where you can’t necessarily see it. I felt more vulnerable on my street in Venice with its deserted sidewalks than I ever have in New York City.
As for narration, I tried to give some kind of audible interpretation as to what the locations might feel like in context to the story, especially if it’s a dangerous versus benign location.
Any more adventures planned for Winston?
Not at present. I’ve been asked that before, and I’m very happy that Winston is a character readers would like to spend more time with. But I’d have to be really inspired by something. I think it would be silly to have a crime-fighting actor slogging through the pages. I mean, how could he ever investigate anything, when all the people he questions want his autograph? Hey, wait a minute…
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