Steven Paul Leiva is an American novelist who once led a secret life in Hollywood. He was born at The Woman’s Hospital in Pasadena, California, on May 26, 1949, shortly before noon. It was just like him to show up for lunch. Soon after his birth, they razed The Woman’s Hospital and put a parking lot in its place. It’s never been firmly established if the two events were related.
At the age of three and a half, Leiva’s family moved to the city of Azusa, just east of Pasadena, where he grew up. The city’s motto was “Everything from A to Z in the USA.” The motto was not wholly accurate.
Levia attended Azusa High School, a well-funded school due to the taxes paid by businesses in Azusa that brewed beer, concocted friction proofing, and built rockets. It’s never been firmly established if the three were related.
While attending Azusa High, Leiva fell in with the wrong crowd—the Drama Department and its Aztec Players troupe of actors. Leiva loved acting. But upon graduation, he discovered that he wasn’t six feet tall (as his mother had always promised he would be). And so, traveling under the false assumption that all actors had to be six feet tall, Leiva gave up the idea of acting and decided to write instead. He figured you didn’t need to be tall to write.
Right out of high school, as the war in Vietnam was heating up, Leiva enlisted in the Air Force as a way to avoid the draft. It was a counterintuitive idea, if not downright ironic. However, after a career of twenty-two days, Leiva was discharged due to a discharge from a cyst in a sensitive place. It wasn’t quite as glamorous as moving to Canada, but it did the trick.
Back home, Leiva enrolled in the local community college (then, embarrassingly known as a junior college) to see if he could learn a thing or two. Some colleges are named after great men or women or the major urban area they are located in. His college was named after fruit. Nevertheless, Leiva did learn a thing or two at Citrus College, and was grateful to do so.
From Citrus College, Leiva left Azusa to continue his fruity education in Orange County. He entered the hollow halls of a state college (later, it grew up and became a state university). He soon left those hollow halls when he found himself unable to suppress chuckling at professors who professed that they were not living a pristine, un-real-world Ivory Tower existence because they actually drove to work on the freeway. (yes, Leiva didn’t get it, either). There was also the fact that he was now married with his first child. So he left the college summa come-to-poppa and entered the world of retail (which is most definitely not an ivory tower existence).
Leiva became a major appliance salesman of very little talent. He was happy to help people purchase appliances they wanted but had an aversion to talking them into refrigerators and stoves they didn’t want—silly him.
Leiva consoled himself by writing short stories. He found—as he suspected he would—that the landscaping of blank pages with little black letters forming words forming sentences forming paragraphs forming characters, ideas, causes & effects was not only fun but possibly nourishing. So he left retail.
Or, to be honest, retail left him. Much like his marriage had a few months before.
Set adrift in a no-income real world with nary an ivory tower to be found, Leiva scanned the Help Wanted pages of the Los Angeles Times. His eyes fell eagerly onto HELP WANTED: ADVERTISING SALESMAN FOR AN ARTS MAGAZINE. YOUR INTEREST IN THE ARTS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR ABILITY TO SELL.
Perfect! As Leiva had a deep interest in the arts and absolutely no ability to sell.
Leiva went in for an interview and learned that it was a commission-only job. He was disappointed. There was something about a counted-upon paycheck that he had grown accustomed to. However, the editor of the magazine, a perfectly lovely man who unfortunately dressed like a pimp, having been informed of the circumstances of Leiva’s separation from his last job, told Leiva to file for unemployment. “Around here, we call unemployment, government support of the arts.”
And so Leiva filed for unemployment and strived to sell ad space in the magazine with little, or possibly minuscule, success. Still, the editor saw something in Leiva and gave him a shot at writing uncompensated articles and reviews for the magazine. Which was damn nice of him. Leiva happily landscaped some blank pages with pieces about art, creativity, beauty, and joy.
But there was a dark cloud on the horizon. It was called Hollywood. Not the photographic, flashy Hollywood of glamorous stars and larger-than-life producers and directors, and couches to cast upon, and craft services to get fat on. But the hand-drawn Hollywood of cartoons (sometimes thought of as animation—when they were thought of at all). It was a secret world of adherents and acolytes with code words and knowing nods. Leiva found himself recruited into a cartoon cult. There were strange initiation rites and hazing. He was forced at times to wear no pants, to stuff his five-fingered hands into four-fingered gloves, and to speak in a funny voice. Funny ha-ha and funny weird. There were cult leaders of one-syllable names, and enforcers who drew the line and demanded you always be on model.
Once again, Leiva consoled himself by landscaping blank pages with little black letters forming words forming sentences forming paragraphs forming characters, ideas, causes & effects. But this time, he was writing novels. As he suspected he would, he found that it was not only fun but possibly life-saving.
After nearly twenty years in the cartoon cult, Leiva rose to a high position and was given a “plum” mission. He was tasked to help facilitate the pairing of wacky, crazy, dare we say, looney cartoon illusions-of-life (anthropomorphic in the main) with fast dribbling, high jumping, and often sweaty, taller-than-normal actual-life. Ironically this afforded Leiva the opportunity to escape the cult when a tunnel formed between the worlds of the illusion-of-lifers and the actual-lifers.
He made his break, crawling as fast as he could through the tunnel, careful to avoid the monsters and creatures dwelling within. Once thought mythical, Leiva had discovered that they were all too real. With cunning and stealth, he slipped past the Flaming Egos (although he did get singed). Leiva slid unseen under the feet of the Prancing Primadonnas (boy, could they dance!). He managed to stay under the radar of the Tiny Meanie Caustic Clueless Executors (whose wild calls of NO! never stopped reverberating). And luckily Leiva was ignored by the Dark Digital Demons streaming en masse through the tunnel to the illusion-of-life land to suck the pencil lead out of the weak, defenseless cartoons and replace it with zeros and ones.
But Leiva didn’t care. He broke out of the tunnel and into the sunshine, free! Free to be he and him!
Hand-in-hand with his second wife and second child and occasionally his visiting first child (all adored), Leiva found an open and vast world of blank pages. Beautiful blank pages he could landscape with little black letters forming words forming sentences forming paragraphs forming characters, ideas, causes & effects. Leiva was finally happy. It has been firmly established that the two events were related.
THERE IS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENING IN PLACIDVILLE!
It is 1962. Kathy Anderson, a serious actress who took her training at the Actors Studio in New York, is stuck playing Vivacia, the Vampire Woman on Vivacia’s House of Horrors for a local Chicago TV station.
Finally fed up showing old monster movies to creature feature fans, she quits and heads to New York and the fame and footlights of Broadway.
She stops off to visit her parents and old friends in Placidville, the all-American, middle-class, blissfully normal Midwest small town she grew up in.
But she finds things are strange in Placidville.
Kathy’s parents, her best friend from high school, the local druggist, even the Oberhausen twins are all acting curiously creepy, odiously odd, and wholly weird. Especially the town’s super geeky nerd, Gerald, who warns of dark days ahead.
Has Kathy entered a zone in the twilight? Did she reach the limits that are outer? Has she fallen through a mirror that is black? Or is it just—just—politics as usual!
Leiva’s landscaped landscapes, commonly known as novels, can be checked out HERE.
~ One note from Ollie:
Wow! Thank you for visiting OllieSpot! I hope you enjoyed, and appreciate, the insight as well as the unique narrative contained in this post as much as I did.
I wanted to add that I felt really engaged in respect to the locations mentioned, mainly Pasadena, CA. as well as the time, or Era Steven spent early on in the Hollywood area. My great grandfather was a prolific writer, as well as wearing many other hats in the early years of MGM. His name was Michael Fessier and I still stand in awe of some of his credits, writing episodes of Gilligan’s Island, The Twilight Zone, and 100’s of additional movies and shows. My mother was also born not too far from Pasadena in the 1950s so I really connected with and loved reading Steven’s early career experiences.
Thank you to Steven Paul Leiva for being so humble for allowing me to be the host for someone who has been a part of The science fiction community and landscape for so long. I hope you give the book a try, and if so, make sure you come back with your thoughts. Lastly, Huuuuge Thank you to Echo, who was so kind and patient with me during the last few days. Starting a new job in this time has brought me new level of craziness to my world, and as a result, I dropped the ball and missed my committed date to post. If anyone has any ideas as to what would be a scifi related amends to Echo and Steven, leave me a comment.
About the Author:
Steven Paul Leiva is a Scribe Award-winner, receiving the praise of literary legend Ray Bradbury and Pulitzer Prize finalist Diana Ackerman. Leiva is no stranger to the business of telling a good story. Author of nine novels, and with a comic writing-style sometimes silly, sometimes serious, and often satiric, this Hollywood-escapee doesn’t pull punches when it comes to the zany and the absurd. His tenth novel, Bully 4 Love, is set to publish on May 7, 2021, with Magpie Press.
Need to know more? Follow him on Amazon or Goodreads, or check out his blog here: http://emotionalrationalist.blogspot.com
Juliana Dever is a professional actor, writer, and world traveler. She’s best known for her role as Jenny Ryan on the globally popular show Castle. Recently you may have seen her brilliant performance in “Stalked by My Husband’s Ex” on Lifetime. Having traveled to over 60 countries, her award-winning travel blog CleverDeverWherever.com (named Best Independent Travel Blog in North America) helps readers find unexpected experiences in unusual places. She curates adventures though former communist countries and Frommer’s listed her tours as a trend that will shape travel.
Seamus Dever is best known to television audiences as Detective Kevin Ryan on ABC’s Castle. He played Sherlock Holmes in the Audie Award-winning “Hound of the Baskervilles” with LA Theatre Works and has 10 other radio plays with them and the BBC. He is the voice of the villain John Seed in the hit video game “Far Cry 5” and originated the DC Comic’s bad guy Trigon on “Titans.” Dever has performed in over 80 plays and has 300 hours of television to his name. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Juliana.