An essay — March 19, 2020
As the world grapples with the reality of the coronavirus pandemic there’s been considerable attention paid to fictional storylines. The now familiar roll call includes films like “Outbreak” (1995), starring Dustin Hoffman and an escaped monkey, and Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” (2011) and books by Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Michael Crichton (who had a day job as a doctor). But let’s not forget the granddaddy of the contemporary genre: the novel “Earth Abides.” Published in 1949 – in the shadow of George Orwell’s masterwork “Nineteen Eighty-Four” – “Earth Abides” asked the unsettling question, “what if…” in the devastating wake of a global killer virus.
Growing up within a freeway’s crawl of Los Angeles, my “3 R’s” were reading, writing and … show business. For me, it wasn’t the romance — tour a Hollywood backlot and you discover how much is make believe. I was always interested in finding out how the magic was made. Today, whatever project I’m on, I’m still looking beyond the facades.
The byline “Pat H. Broeske” has appeared on stories as disparate as an examination of Jim Morrison’s poetry and the ABCs of cataloguing a major archaeological collection. But it’s as a veteran chronicler of Hollywood that Broeske is best known, covering everything from popular trends to the actual business of “the Business.”
Writing credits include: The New York Times, Orange Coast, Emmy, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Times (staff writer), Us, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Chicago Tribune, Interview, Soap Opera Digest, Elle, Redbook, Family Circle, Fitness, American Archaeology.
Fascinated by the convergence of “Hollywood & Crime,” Broeske is an experienced producer/writer/consultant for reality docu-drama who has conducted interviews from behind prison bars and in the back seats of squad cars. TV credits include truTV’s “Anatomy of Crime“ and “Video Justice” for Langley Productions (of “COPS” fame).
Two best-selling biographies, Howard Hughes: The Untold Story (Dutton) and Down at the End of Lonely Street: The Life and Death of Elvis Presley (Dutton) — co-authored with Peter Harry Brown — enjoyed major serializations, and both audio and foreign language editions. Writing … pssst … under her pseudonym of “Katharine Cummings,” Broeske examined the life of Elvis’s daughter in Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Lisa Marie Presley Story (AMI Books). She has also served as a paid consultant for university press publishers.
For many years a UCLA Extension Writers’ Program instructor, she currently teaches non-fiction writing and film as literature for Saddleback College Emeritus Institute.
A native Southern Californian, Pat H. Broeske makes her home in Orange County with architect-husband James Broeske and a menagerie of rescue cats and dogs. She is a lifelong mystery buff, serving on the board of Orange County Sisters in Crime, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America.
Pat H. Broeske
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