I’m excited to introduce a new project, Tula, a novel set in the 1920s. Tula is an actress who has climbed from the gutter to become a major star in Hollywood. However, as the story opens, she is in an asylum. How did she get there?
Tula believes that the recent death of her father triggered her emotional collapse. However, as she chronicles the first twenty-four years of her life, she discovers the true trigger for her breakdown.
This story might sound dark, but light arrives in shape of Tula’s determination to escape from poverty, and her strength in facing up to and overcoming her emotional problems.
The opening chapter of Tula, my 1920s novel, takes place in Kings County Asylum, where Tula introduces her story. The asylum looks bleak, and it was. The building was smaller when Tula was there; additional storeys were added in the 1930s.
Tula’s school, Bay Ridge High School, Brooklyn, pictured in 1920. Bay Ridge was an all-girls school. Here, Tula was bullied over her appearance and stammer. She responded with fist-fights, receiving a black eye on one notable occasion.
To escape from her troubled home life and bullying at school, Tula lost herself in the movies, visiting movie palaces like New York’s Capitol Theatre, pictured in 1920.
By the middle of the 1920s, 50 million Americans a week went to the movies – the equivalent of half the nation’s population. By the 1940s the studios were producing an average of 500 films a year, reaching 90 million Americans per week.