Ava Barry Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Ava Barry

Ava Barry

An interview with Ava Barry

Hollywood Noir: In Ava Barry's 'Windhall', an unsolved 1948 murder obsesses L.A. journalist Max Hailey decades later.

You've lived in Australia for several years. Was it a challenge to write about Hollywood, both old and contemporary, from such a distance?

I'm actually a native Californian who lived in Los Angeles for three years after college in Santa Cruz. On my days off I would drive around and visit all these famous sites: the Witch House in Beverly Hills, filming locations for Chinatown, Westwood Memorial Park where Marilyn Monroe's crypt is. I'm obsessed with both present-day Los Angeles and the city's rich history.

What is it about the golden age of Hollywood that grabbed you to begin with?

It contained the perfect balance of incredibly talented people and a limited amount of authority or oversight. Even in the '40s, Hollywood was still considered by some to be the Wild West. Adventure and new frontiers have always appealed to me, and Los Angeles in its infancy was kind of the last American frontier. It grew to become this chaotic adult playground. The craziest story I read is probably the one about the corpse of John Barrymore: director Raoul Walsh borrowed his friend's dead body from a funeral home and took it to Errol Flynn's as a prank. Events like that were the norm. There was a haunting element to many of the stars' lives, which fascinated me. And as a result of WWII, a lot of artistic European nobles fled to Los Angeles.

What did your research involve?

I was fortunate to meet Daniel Selznick, David O. Selznick's son, when I lived in L.A. He was a regular customer at a restaurant where I worked, and he and his wife were very friendly and conversational. We would chat about Old Hollywood; I learned a lot from them. I had dinner at Musso & Frank's restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, which was and still is a legendary gathering spot for actors and other film folk. It was mandatory, too, to spend time at the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre and Grauman's Egyptian Theatre, where all the big film premiers were held back in the day. My intention was to soak up as much of the atmosphere of that incredible time in L.A. as possible.

Did Windhall, the mansion where the crime occurs, actually exist?

Windhall isn't based on any one house; it's a compilation of historic houses and abandoned places that I have visited, including Liza Minelli's childhood home, which is now just this big dilapidated mansion.

Hollywood Noir: PW Talks with Ava Barry - from Publishers Weekly, reproduced with permission.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Ava Barry at BookBrowse
Windhall jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Ava Barry but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Howard Blum

    Howard Blum

    Howard Blum is the author of, the national bestsellers Wanted!, The Gold of Exodus, and Gangland. Currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Blum was also a reporter at the New York Times, where he won numerous ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Windhall

    Try:
    American Lightning
    by Howard Blum

  • Marisha Pessl

    Marisha Pessl

    Marisha Pessl, the author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics was born on October 26, 1977 in Clarkston, Michigan.  Her mother, Anne, a schoolteacher, was raised in Brazil and Venezuela, and her Austrian father was... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Windhall

    Try:
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl

We recommend 3 similar authors

View all 3 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free

Discover books that
entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Women of Chateau Lafayette
    The Women of Chateau Lafayette
    by Stephanie Dray
    The Women of Chateau Lafayette, Stephanie Dray's latest work of historical fiction, revolves around ...
  • Book Jacket: Windhall
    Windhall
    by Ava Barry
    Ava Barry's debut mystery novel Windhall is centered around the salacious murder of a starlet named ...
  • Book Jacket: Libertie
    Libertie
    by Kaitlyn Greenidge
    Kaitlyn Greenidge burst onto the literary scene in 2016 with her award-winning novel, We Love You, ...
  • Book Jacket
    Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982
    by Cho Nam-joo, Jamie Chang
    'Kim Jiyoung is thirty-three years old, thirty-four Korean age. She got married three years ago and ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Of Women and Salt
    by Gabriela Garcia

    A kaleidoscopic portrait of generations of women from a 19th-century Cuban cigar factory to the present day.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Widow Queen
    by Elzbieta Cherezinska

    The epic story of an 11th century Polish queen whose life and name were all but forgotten until now.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Survivors
by Jane Harper
Even the deepest secrets rise to the surface in this thrilling mystery from New York Times bestselling author Jane Harper.
Win This Book!
Win The Beauty of Your Face

A New York Times Notable Book of 2020

"Stunning.… A timely family saga with faith and forgiveness at its core."
Marie Claire

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

It's N S O M N

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.