Looking for Garbo: A Novel

Looking for Garbo: A Novel

by Jon James Miller

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"Blending hard-boiled noir and romance into a compelling historical tale, Looking for Garbo is filled with heart and action." ~ Foreword Reviews

James Main has a film to make.

Seth Moseley has a story to tell.

Neither have any idea how looking for Garbo would change their lives.

When documentary filmmaker James Main places an ad looking for anyone still above ground who knew movie goddess Greta Garbo, he’s delighted when Seth Moseley, a salty old reporter, replies with the promise of an untold story of why the reclusive star left Hollywood at the height of her fame.

Dying of emphysema, Seth tells the story of when he was a cut-throat paparazzo stow away aboard the S.S. Athenia, intent on getting a candid photo of Garbo to pay off his gambling debts. Instead, the newshound falls hard for the enigmatic star as soon as he meets her face to face. But all is not what it seems and when war in Europe unexpectedly breaks out while the Athenia is still steaming across the Atlantic, Seth has to single-handedly save the movie star in the middle of an open ocean swarming with Nazis. Their daring escape brings Garbo’s film career to a premature end and shatters the lives of both star and reporter. And, unbeknownst to James, hearing their story decades later will change his own life forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781943075560
Publisher: Amphorae Publishing Group, LLC
Publication date: 05/07/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Jon James Miller has always been passionate about literature and film and pursued a career in the latter at Ithaca College in upstate New York, earning a degree in cinematography.  He moved to Los Angeles and found work as a researcher and segment producer on cable documentaries for A&E, Lifetime Intimate Portraits and The History Channel.  In 2008, Jon won Grand Prize of the AAA Screenplay Contest sponsored by Creative Screenwriting Magazine for Garbo's Last Stand. The World War II set mystery inspired by true events went on to win the 2009 Golden Brad for Drama. But advice Jon received from legendary screenwriter and novelist William Goldman proved most valuable. After reading Jon's screenplay, Mr. Goldman said, "This is a great story, now go write the novel." Looking for Garbo is that novel, Jon's first.  In addition to writing novels, non-fiction and screenplays, Jon is a frequent presenter of live webinars on the craft of writing. His presentations can be found at SCRIPT Magazine, The Writers Store and Writers Digest University online. When he's not writing or presenting, Jon loves to hike, play tennis and go to movies. He lives, works and plays in Northern California.



The Real Story Behind the Novel

At a private dinner party in the mid-1960’s, reclusive and normally taciturn movie star Greta Garbo dropped a bombshell on her friend Sam Green. “Mr. Hitler was big on me,” she told him. “He kept writing and inviting me to come to Germany, and if the war hadn’t started when it did, I would have gone and I would have taken a gun out of my purse and shot him, because I’m the only person who would not have been searched.’

Stunned, Green later said about the revelation, “That’s a direct quote. She said it to me over dinner, and it was so out of character. It wasn’t her habit to make up such a story to stop a dinner party. Or maybe not so out of character. As a child, she had had fantasies that ‘I might shorten the life of a cruel king and replace him by a romantic knight’.”

Garbo, was not only serious about her secret plot to pre-empt World War II, but had actually volunteered to spy for the Allies in Europe and personally saved Jews in Denmark. Hitler, who owned his own copy of Camille and obsessively watched Garbo’s dying courtesan, wrote her fan letters and considered her his ideal Aryan Goddess. But Hitler wasn’t the only one obsessed with Garbo. She was also the first international star to be hounded by paparazzi, decades before the phrase was coined. Her every movement was recorded daily in the tabloids. Garbo’s refusal to give interviews in the mid-thirties only fueled the public’s interest and the paparazzo’s efforts to catch her in candid moments. That’s where Seth Moseley came in.

I met Seth Moseley while working in Los Angeles as a researcher on a cable documentary about famous kidnappings. Seth was the young, ambitious Associated Press reporter who, because of a family connection, got the scoop of the century when he interviewed Charles Lindbergh shortly after his baby had been abducted. Seth went on to cover such famous events as the burning of the S.S. Morro Castle and the Hindenburg Disaster. But one of his fondest recollections was when he discovered Greta Garbo hiding in the men’s room aboard the Kungsholm, a Swedish ocean liner, at the Port of New York in 1938.

Seth had joined the ship with the Press Corps, who all received the same tip that Garbo was secretly aboard. In exchange for not ratting her out, Garbo gave Seth an exclusive. In the interview, she told Seth she never said “I want to be alone,” but rather, “I want to be left alone.” Seth’s eyes sparkled when he recounted his real life encounter with the glamorous movie star. He quoted Lionel Barrymore, who acted opposite Garbo in Grand Hotel, when he said “Garbo was so beautiful it took me three days to recover.” Seth said she was even more beautiful in person than she was in the movies. After our interview, I knew I had my protagonist for a novel.

Greta Garbo passed away in 1990, and Seth Moseley died in 2000. Their time together on the Kungsholm, back when Garbo was the most famous face of them all, and Seth Moseley was the beat reporter pursuing her is now the stuff of legend. But the fact that they became friends and respected each other was almost as unlikely as Garbo following through on her plot to kill Hitler and stop World War 2 before it even had a chance to start.

—Jon James Miller

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