Forget everything you ever thought you knew about vampires — or in the European archaic spelling, vampyres.
They don’t necessarily fear garlic and probably everything you’ve ever learned about the blood-sucking, night creatures comes from the movies — which is controlled by vampyres and therefore only what they want you to know — at least according to a new book co-authored by Adrienne Barbeau.
Barbeau will be at Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday, July 31, autographing copies of the novel “Vampyres of Hollywood,” a clever and sexy, behind-the-scenes-of-Hollywood thriller that is expected to be just one more reason to be an Adrienne Barbeau fan.
If you’re old enough to remember the 1970s television series “Maude,” you’ll no doubt remember Barbeau, the sex symbol/comedic actress who played actress Bea Arthur’s on-screen daughter, Carole.
Barbeau went on to a career in television, as well as to being the “scream queen” star of several classic films, including “The Fog,” “Creepshow,” “Swamp Thing” and “Escape from New York.” Prior to that, she began her career as a singer on Broadway, where she performed in “Fiddler on the Roof” and played the original Rizzo in “Grease.” That part eventually inspired the title of her first book, “There Are Worse Things I Could Do,” a memoir.
“I fell backwards into writing,” Barbeau said in a Tuesday afternoon telephone interview with the Valley Sun. “I never thought this is what I’d be doing in my third- or fourth-career.”
Barbeau grew up in Northern California and, at the age of 19, moved to New York to pursue a singing and acting career. When her oldest son, Cody, was small she began doing voice work in animation in order to stay home more and spend time with her son. Now, she’s a mom of three sons, the youngest are 11-year-old twins. She and her family live in Studio City.
In a roundabout way, Barbeau credits a deceased, close friend with getting her into writing. “I have always felt it was my dead girlfriend who pushed me that direction,” she said.
About 22 years ago, when Cody was in preschool she began a longtime friendship with a film editor who, in 1998, died of breast cancer. A few years later, when her younger sons started preschool, she met another woman — also a film editor — who surprisingly resembled Barbeau’s other friend and also had battled cancer. The woman and Barbeau decided to have coffee together, where Barbeau learned of a writing class the other woman had recently taken. She persuaded Barbeau to take the class.
“It never crossed my mind you could learn how to write,” Barbeau said. “I had kept a journal all of my life, but I never thought of learning to write. I always thought you either could or you couldn’t write.”
During the course of the class, Barbeau began sharing various portions of her life through writing assignments. Her instructor suggested she compile the stories and get her work published, which resulted in her first book.
Her second book, “Vampyres of Hollywood,” is a collaboration with writer Michael Scott, who is perhaps best known for his New York Times bestseller, “The Alchemist.”
The new book is the story of an Armenian vampyre, Ovsanna Moore, who is a scream queen actress who must solve the murders of several other vampire actors before the detective on the case begins to suspect her as the murderer.
Set in old Hollywood, the characters — also vampyres — include well-known names such as Orson Wells and Mary Pickford. The main character, Moore, also bears a striking resemblance to Barbeau. “OK, if they were to make this a film 20 years ago, she’d be me,” Barbeau admitted. “She is an Armenian vampire, and I’m Armenian,” she said, with a laugh.
Barbeau said she hopes her audience will appreciate this new aspect of her career. “It’s witty, and there’s mystery, a little sex, and what people want in a book,” she said.
The publishers, St. Martin’s Press, liked the concept well enough to commission Barbeau for this novel, as well as a sequel, which Barbeau is currently writing without Scott, who is working on separate projects.
In addition to writing, Barbeau recently finished voice work on an animated film to be released Aug. 8, “Fly Me to the Moon.” The film is the story of three flies that sneak aboard the Apollo 11 space flight. Also featured as voices in the film are astronaut Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, and a long list of actors including Nicolette Sheridan, Christopher Lloyd, Ed Begley Jr., Tim Curry and Kelly Ripa.
For more information on “Vampyres of Hollywood” visit Barbeau’s website at: www.abarbeau.com or see her July 31 in La Cañada.