Southern Cross

southern crossWhy would Kurt Cobain chose the date of Howard Hughes death of April 5th in Texas for the day he would leave the public life in 1994?

It was Kurt who told me about Chris Blackwell, the man who proclaimed me his enemy, Chris’ mother having an affair with the James Bond author Ian Fleming, the Blackwell family who owned Crosse & Blackwell, and Albert R. Broccoli who was mentored by Howard Hughes.

I learned much about Hughes, his contributions in aviation, his work in the film industry and about acquiring the luxury steam yacht the Rover from British shipping magnate Lord Inchcape.  He renamed the yacht the Southern Cross.

It was during these conversations I made up the song which I requested be recorded by Crosby, Stills and Nash, due to Def Leppard borrowing the lyrics “It’s better to burn out than fade away” from Neil Young who has a long relationship with Crosby Stills and Nash.  In 1994, Kurt would also use those lyrics of Neil Young in what is considered his “suicide note” addressed to Boddah.

Kurt’s interpretation of the Southern Cross…



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Death of Kurt Cobain

kc deadKurt had been planning his staged suicide for many years.  When Kurt first told me in 1983 that he was going to commit suicide, I begged him not to do it.  At first, I thought he really might go through with it.  This was after the Birmingham Police Detective who drove me home had a radio call that there was someone on suicide watch the night Kurt was arrested in May of 1983.

Then Chris Blackwell of Island Records entered our life.  Chris also brought the James Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli and family into our life.  Chris’ mother had an affair with author Ian Fleming and got his start in the entertainment industry working on the set of Dr. No.

640px-Howard_HughesOthers told me about how Albert R. Broccoli got his start in the industry being mentored by Howard Hughes.  They also told me he died in my father’s state of Texas on April 5, 1976.

It was the day Howard Hughes died that Kurt chose to leave the public life.


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castleI was introduced to the work of horror master William Castle as a teen due to his work with Vincent Price who I asked to use his voice on my song “Thriller” recorded by Michael Jackson.

This was after Joe Elliott told me about Roman Polanski who escaped justice of having drugged and raped a teenaged girl.  Joe had been bragging and knowing he was going to get away with doing the same to me.

Castle mortgaged his home to obtain the rights to Ira Levine’s novel Rosemary’s Baby.  Paramount Pictures insisted on hiring director Polanski.  Kurt Cobain made many references to Levine, due to our work on ideas for the novel to film “Sliver” and includes the Nirvana song “Sliver”.

Castle is one of the last television show ideas I worked on, naming it for the iconic William Castle as well as the character Richard Castle portrayed by Canadian actor Nathan Fillion who came to meet me.  I talked to Nathan about coming up with ideas for Miami Vice as a teen and about all the book to films I worked on.  I thought it would be interesting to have a novelist work with the police to help solve crimes.

barry beckettThe character Detective Kate Beckett was named for Birmingham, Alabama native and musician Barry Beckett.  He is best known for his work as a member of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.  Among the artists Beckett recorded with were Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Duane Allman, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. He was also briefly a member of the band Traffic.

The most recent episodes of Castle were inspired by my work on the film Face/Off.


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Dark Places

Dark_Places_coverDark Places was the first to be released under the pen name Gillian Flynn, but it was the last for me to work on.  By the time I worked on the spec for Dark Places, Ben Affleck’s name was being thrown around to take the role in Gone Girl as my dimpled chin Nick Dunn.  It was Ben’s name I used for my redheaded character “Ben Day” in Dark Places.

The title of the book goes back to my work on the James Bond series starting in 1983 when Chris Blackwell of Island Records came into my life.  Chris’ mother had an affair with the James Bond author and Chris got his start working on the set of Dr. No.

Dark_Places_FilmPosterChristopher Lee is the step-cousin of author Ian Fleming who is famous for his horror films.  In 1973, he starred in the British horror “Dark Places”. 

As a teen, while working with Michael Jackson we discussed him appearing in the 1978 musical “The Wiz”.  I knew the songs, one being “A Brand New Day” which I borrowed the title to make up a new song “Brand New Day” which Sting would record (1999).  The song title takes center stage in my book.

Ben_Michael_Jackson“Ben” also happens to be a song recorded by Michael Jackson (1972) for the film of the same name (the sequel to the 1971 killer rat film Willard).

With this book, I also made many connections to Kurt Cobain through character names, such as the alias of Ben’s girlfriend “Polly”, the guitar playing Alex was a reference to my pen name Alexander NEVERMIND which Kurt used to name his Nirvana album, the character Calvin Diehl was named for Calvin Johnson of K Records and author Roald Dahl who worked on the script for Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Dahl also wrote the children’s book Gremlins which I used the title to come up with  ideas for the 1984 film which actress Phoebe Cates appeared and inspired me to name the character Krissi Cates in Dark Places.


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Sharp Objects

Sharp-objects-book-coverOriginally, I had wanted to name the book “Broken or Broken Glass” and a reference to my songs “Walking on Broken Glass” recorded by Annie Lennox, as well as the duet “Broken” recorded by Seether and the artist who takes her stage name for me.  This time I took the advice of others on the title.

When encountering a person like Kurt Cobain and having personally been around him for many years, I wondered what made him tick.  It was as a teen after swimming one day that I first noticed the scars on his back.  I walked up to him from behind, ran my finger over the scars, and kissed his back.  It was the first time I experienced a true emotional breakdown from him. never confided in me.  As a teen, I wondered if one of his parents abused him.  Then someone told me about “cutters” or “self injurers”.

I decided to fictionalize Kurt Cobain as my character Camille Preaker, named reimagined from Camillia Parker Bowles.  Camille is a cutter of words which starts with the death of her sister.

Having grown up in the South with strong female role models, there is also a strong sense of female hierarchy in the families.  This is also true with Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana, which lead to the naming of my character.  Diana is also mentioned in the novel.

The fictional town of Wind Gap was loosely based on Trussville, Alabama where I grew up.  Instead of the Gold Kist Chicken processing plant which operated in Trussville until recently, it became a pig processing plant.

My Red Dragon featuring Hannibal Lecter and The Tooth Fairy book to films also makes an appearance, though reimagined.

The main character Camille Preaker also takes her nickname “Cubby” for that of Albert R. Broccolli, the producer of the James Bond films.


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nirvanaKurt chose the band name “Nirvana” because it was the name of the 1960’s band that was signed to Chris Blackwell of Island Records.

It was Chris who proclaimed me his enemy after I went to the police and refused to keep quiet about Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, Kurt and another man drugging and kidnapping me from my home in May 1983.


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Gone Girl

JohnnyCashGoneGirlElvis was not the only artist discovered by Alabama native Sam Phillips of Sun Records.  Much love to the Man in Black.

But as usual, it was Elvis’s identical twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley, who was stillborn that inspired my character Nick Dunne to have a twin sister.

The character Nick Dunne was named for the actress Dominique Dunne who appeared in Poltergeist and was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend.  I had wanted Dominique to appear in my alien television show “V” before her death.


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Amazing Amy

amazing amyBy 2005, bits and pieces of my life had been fictionalized in books, films, and television shows.  Coming up with ideas for the book to film Gone Girl released in 2012 was probably the closest peek into my personal life that I ever did.  Of course, it was fictionalized and even real things that happened in my life were fictionalized by my Amy character written in her journal.

Amy was named for me and maiden name for Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, who entered my life in 1983 when I was 15.

I came up with the pen name Gillian Flynn for the redheaded actress who portrayed my character Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) in X-Files and a boy named Sam Flynn that grew up in Trussville, Alabama.  This too was to draw a connection to Def Leppard who had released the “X” album in 2002 by Chris Blackwell’s Island Records.

sugar stormThe “Sugar Storm” was inspired by me writing the songs “Pour Some Sugar On Me” recorded by Def Leppard and “Sugar Walls” (as Alexander NEVERMIND) recorded by Sheena Easton.

When I thought about how I wanted the scene to play out, I thought about sitting at Café du Monde by the Mississippi River and the sugar storm when eating a beignet.  This is also why the fictional town of North Carthage is set on the Mississippi River.

C’mon, take a bottle, shake it up

Another fictional aspect of my character Amy is that she setup men to claim they raped her.  The idea for the scene where she uses a bottle to make her body have damage was inspired by one of the men who started raping me when I was a teen using a bottle to molest me with.  This is where the lyrics for the song “Pour Some Sugar On Me” recorded by Def Leppard came from.

Thanks Trent for working on the soundtrack!

Oh!  Make sure you pay close attention to the “Butt Chin” comment in reference to the character Nick Dunne’s cleft chin.  There were three men in my life with cleft chins…Kurt Cobain, Michael Hutchence, and Marco Nogara.  Of course, Michael Jackson had a cleft chin implant after we met.  There was someone in my life who always made the comment of how he hated people with cleft chins.  Fortunately, that person is no longer in my life…but should recognize the fictional town of North Carthage which came from Carthage, North Carolina (with the towns of Pinehurst and Whispering Pines) where they had family.

Trent Reznor who I asked to do the soundtrack had lost “Nothing” record label when the levees broke in New Orleans.

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Man_on_fireposterBefore there was a “Girl on Fire” and a Peeta, there was a “Man on Fire” and a Pita (2004) which I worked on spec script ideas for both.  Both character names inspired by Michelangelo’s Pietà.

The idea for the genetically created “Mockingjay”, the bird created by mating a mockingbird and the fictional bird I named a jabberjay, came from Alabama native Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” and a little remembered cartoon I watched as a child in the late 70’s of a anthropomorphic great white shark named “Jabberjaw”.

Jabberjaw was partially responsible for me creating the anthropomorphic turtles in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a teenager working with Michael Jackson.  It was not a new idea and many authors had used such anthropomorphic characters, such as Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and Lewis Carroll’s characters in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

The naming of the characters Pita and Peeta also was to draw a connection to my turtle I named Michelangelo.

JabberjawMy turtles are also why Kurt Cobain wrote about the turtles he kept in his bathtub and Courtney Love would later be photographed with a turtle on her head.

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Two years ago, I wrote about how my parents took me to see the Pompeii exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art when I was a child.  (The article to the left is about the exhibit in Chicago in 1978 before it left to go to Dallas.)

This is something Kurt Cobain knew well about me when he decided to name a new song I had just written.

The lyrics of…”And the walls kept tumbling down” are similar to ones I have used in songs before and were not specifically about Mt. Vesuvius erupting and destroying Pompeii.  These other songs include the James Bond theme song “Skyfall” recorded by Adele and “Crumblin’ Down” (1983) recorded by John Cougar Mellencamp.  The song not only inspired by Pink Floyd’s The Wall, but also learning about the Berlin Wall and during the time I named the band Berlin.  My cryBerlinWall-BrandenburgGate for the wall to come down was repeated by President Ronald Reagan in a 1987 speech.  After the Berlin wall started to be dismantled, the artists brought me pictures and a piece of the wall.  It was the particular picture of the wall and someone holding the sign “Achtung!” that inspired me to name the U2 album Achtung Baby released in 1991.

‘Let the sky fall, when it crumbles” – Skyfall

When I was asked who I wanted to record the song, I remember Robert Downey, Jr. and others mentioning film editor Ned Bastille who worked on the 2006 comedy remake of The Shaggy Dog.


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