On The Town With The She-Fan Cam

I’m very lucky to live in a place where there are lots of other writers around. We celebrate when one of us gets a “yes” from a publisher, and we step in when one of us gets a “no” and threatens to jump off a ledge.


We write in different genres and are of different ages and backgrounds, but we share a profession that’s as satisfying as it can be humbling
and humiliating.
This afternoon I ran into one of my writer buddies, Melodie Johnson Howe.
Born and raised in LA, Melodie always dreamed of being a writer. But she was “discovered” by Hollywood at age 21 after acing a screen test at Universal, and was signed to a seven-year contract.
“For my first job, I was shot dead, covered in a sheet and carted away in an ambulance,” she writes on her web site. “Only my hair showed.”
Other roles followed, including one opposite Clint Eastwood in a movie called “Coogan’s Bluff.”
I once asked her what it was like to make out with Clint, and she wasn’t very enthusiastic. Apparently, all they did was soak in a tub filled with Tide.
“After a week of shooting, I said to my husband, ‘I don’t think Eastwood will make it as an actor.”
Melodie’s first novel, “The Mother Shadow,” was nominated for an Edgar award (the mystery genre’s equivalent of an Oscar) and featured a female duo of crime solvers.
She brought the characters back for her second book, “Beauty Dies.”
She also writes short stories for “Ellery Queen” magazine and posts weekly on a mystery writers’ blog called “Criminal Brief.” What really endears her to me is her passion for baseball.
I saw her today outside our local bookstore, seized the opportunity to talk about our favorite sport and whipped out the She-Fan Cam. I take it everywhere these days, causing most people to flee whenever they see me coming.
It’s just a tiny Flip Video camcorder. Nothing to be afraid of.
Will the Yankees and Dodgers meet up in the 2009 WS? Writers have vivid imaginations, but anything is possible.


  1. bern_asoto

    What an nice woman, this Melodie. I’ll have to look for her books in the library.
    Your first picture is from a movie I recently discovered! It’s been on TCM several times this month. Unfortunately, I always seem to miss the end of it, for one reason or another, but I think I know what happens, lol.

  2. scofid

    This was a good story and video! That’s funny about her observation regarding Clint Eastwood. It would be fun to face Joe Torre and the Dodgers in the WS, but man, it would be tough seeing Donnie Baseball in the opposing dugout…

    P.S. Speaking of books, what is your personal favorite of your own books (excluding Confessions)?


  3. Orangebird

    Hey Mr. $500 would want to be on the She-Fan Cam!!! I alos find it hard to just respect the Yankees!
    Also it amazes me peoeple can post in wee hours!!
    March 29, 2009 at 12:22 AM. I would need to have a expresso cappicino to stay up that late!!!!
    I have a tendecy to use these:


  4. Jane Heller

    If you missed the end of the movie, you didn’t miss Melodie, Bern. She said she’s only in the beginning with Clint in that tub.

    It all seems wide open now, Rob. That’s the beauty of a new season. I just updated your link. Sorry it took so long.

    We can all dream and we do, Julia!

    I think it would be great to face the Dodgers, Scott, if we were lucky enough to get there. I’d be so happy for Donnie, as much as it would feel weird to root against his team! As for the favorite of my novels? I’m supposed to say I like them all the same, the way people speak about their children, but I have a few favorites: “Name Dropping” (about two women with the same name, one of whom gets murdered); “The Secret Ingredient” (about a wife who’s fed up with her husband and gives him a “potion” to perk him up); and “An Ex to Grind” (about a woman who has to pay her ex-husband alimony and schemes to get out of it).

    I’d love to get you on the She-Fan Cam, Orangebird. Maybe I should tour the country interviewing bloggers on this site. Now that would be fun. As for posting late at night, remember I’m out of CA and my midnight is your 3 am.

    I think a lot of people predicted Clint wouldn’t make it, Jeff. I used to watch him in those westerns and would never have imagined he’d become CLINT.

    She is a nice lady, Jenn. And she’s no bandwagoner. She’s been rooting for the Dodgers since she was a kid.

  5. letsgoyankees

    I called a Yanks-Dodgers series. They came close last yr., and this yr. if some of their young pitching comes through it should give them an edge to get to the Show. And Manny, of course. Can’t forget Manny.

  6. Jane Heller

    Manny will definitely help them, Letsgoyankees, but I think you’re right and it’s pitching that will determine how far they go.

    Yes, for her sake, I hope he behaves himself, Sue. It could be a long season in LA if he doesn’t.

  7. Greg

    Impressive interview and even more impressive that she worked with Clint! Haha, good thing she steered more to the writing side of things instead of going into casting.

    She almost kind of looks like (having a mental block, off to IMDB…nevermind the block crumbled) Dianne Wiest a little.

    Red Sox Ramblings: http://thevendahhh.mlblogs.com

  8. Jane Heller

    It can be hard to walk up to strangers, Elizabeth. Sometimes I spot somebody wearing a baseball cap and take out the She-Fan Cam, only to chicken out if they look unapproachable. But most people think it’s fun and are good sports.

    Come to California and I’ll interview you, Melissa. You’d be a great subject.

    I guess I distorted her with the Cam, Greg. She actually looks more like Patricia Clarkson. To me, anyway.

  9. crzblue2

    Jane! keep finind those Dodger fans! There are lots and lots of us! Loved the interview!! If you come over Dodger Stadium, you can interview some of us.
    I have not been around much with lots to do plus the the last trip I made to Camelback Ranch!

  10. Jane Heller

    I’m hoping to come to Dodger Stadium and interview you and other Dodger fans. One of these days you’ll see me with the Cam. Watch out.

    Thanks, Mark. As always.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s