Love Mysteries and the Golden Age of Hollywood? You’ll Love Elizabeth Crowens’ New Series!

As a huge fan of films from the 1930s and 40s, it’s a treat to interview Elizabeth Crowens about her new mystery series set in 1940s Hollywood. Below are her responses to my interview questions, followed by her bio, book description, and buy links:

First off, congratulations on the release this month of HOUNDS OF THE HOLLYWOOD BASKERVILLES, Book One of the Babs Norman Golden Age of Hollywood Series. Can you tell our readers about the novel and what inspired it?

Its log line: Sherlock Holmes meets The Thin Man when two young detectives recruit Basil Rathbone, Myrna Loy, and William Powell to uncover the mystery of missing celebrity pets in 1940s Hollywood. My best friend, who is no longer with us, inspired the character of Babs Norman. She was a frustrated actress in Hollywood during the forties, loved mystery books and movies, and rescued animals. If she were still alive, she would be 101 this year.

I love the way in which you have threaded famous actors and creators from the Golden Age of Hollywood such as Myrna Loy, William Powell, and Dashiell Hammett into your novel. How did you go about researching this era?

Watching lots of Turner Classic Movies, reading a lot of biographies and nonfiction books, and frequent trips to Los Angeles digging through archives, and location scouting. Sometimes I can find what I need at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts Library in New York, but most of what I need is in Southern California. I’m trying to move back there.

Can you tell us about your protagonists, Babs Norman and Guy Brandt? What led them to open a private detective agency?

They were both frustrated young actors who weren’t thrilled about the direction their careers were going. Babs was drop-dead gorgeous, but more often than not some unscrupulous producer would dangle a part in front of her in exchange for getting her into the sack, and she was sick and tired of it. When she decided she needed a change, she acted on the need for justice.                             

When she was a girl she helped solve the case behind her father’s untimely death, but as a young child and as a female, the local police department didn’t take her seriously and took all the credit. When she decided to quit the acting profession and got her professional private investigator’s license, she felt the need to prove all the naysayers wrong.

Her partner, Guy Brandt, on the other hand, was also a former actor. He knew he could play the tough guy roles like Cagney or Bogart but failed to look the part, getting cast as the patsy, the soda jerk, or the socially inept filling station attendant. He needed to prove to himself that he could make it in a dog-eat-dog world where one had to be careful not to get harassed or picked on as a closeted homosexual.

You’ve won multiple awards and recognition for your writing in a variety of genres. Do you have a favorite?

Despite the challenge of all the extra fact-checking and research involved, I tend to veer towards historical fiction, whether it’s alternate history in the science fiction/fantasy vein or with Golden Age of Hollywood mysteries. Writing a mystery poses more of a challenge, because you need to construct and solve a convoluted puzzle and always be one step ahead of your reader. I think it would more difficult for me to write a contemporary piece.

Your bio mentions that you have “worn many hats in the entertainment industry.” Can you share a bit about the various jobs you’ve held?

Primarily, I was a still photographer for motion pictures and television and was a card-carrying member of the International Cinematographers Guild, but not using my pen name of Elizabeth Crowens. However, I’ve also been a story analyst, a script supervisor, had a photo studio, and also worked as an independent consultant with film, theater, and television wardrobe departments on period pieces. Now, I write about the entertainment industry. Someone should hire me as a film history instructor.

Did you always know that you wanted to become a writer?

No, I made that decision while in college. Filmmaking, by and large, is a collaborative effort which can cost a fortune to create a finished product. Nowadays with digital cameras or smart phones that also shoot video and social media and streaming outlets, it’s a lot easier to create product, but unless you are starring in a one-man or one-woman show, you still need a team. Even though scripts can become collaborative efforts or turned over to others to either doctor or butcher, a writer can create a screenplay as a solo project and also without costing an arm and a leg. Ironically, when I moved to Los Angeles, I wound up supporting myself and my son doing the other stuff mentioned earlier.

Can you tell us about your writing process?

I wake at 4:00 when it’s quiet and there are no distractions, make my coffee, and write for several hours. I’m a serious plotter versus being a pantser and am constantly outlining and re-outlining my novel using the three-act story structure most screenwriters use. During conventions, I do very little writing and have to ease back into the process afterwards. Those are the times to network and to get as much as I can out of the panels and seminars.

Any advice for aspiring mystery authors?

Join Sisters in Crime. Join the Guppies group which is how you and I met. Join your local Mystery Writers of America chapter and learn the craft. Take advantage of mentor opportunities and learn from the experts. With Zoom you can connect with others worldwide. Realize this is a long-term investment. Meeting people face-to-face at conventions will help in the long run.

What’s next for you writing-wise?

Currently, I’m 65K pages into my sequel to Hounds, Bye, Bye, Blackbird featuring Humphrey Bogart who hires our two detectives. I have a three-book deal with Level Best Books, so I guarantee you that I’ll have at least one more book in this particular series.

Anything else you’d like to add, or wish I’d asked that I didn’t?

I think that pretty much sums it up, but if you purchase the book or eBook, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram and whatever social media platform you prefer. Accumulating good reviews make us visible in the search engine algorithms. They also make us eligible to promote our books through places like BookBub. There are probably over two million books on Amazon right now. For authors, visibility and rankings are key. If you don’t like the book, spare us the one and two-star reviews. They hurt our rankings.


 Elizabeth Crowens is bi-coastal between Los Angeles and New York. For over thirty years, she has worn many hats in the entertainment industry, contributed stories to Black Belt, Black Gate, Sherlock Holmes Mystery MagazinesHell’s Heart, and the Bram Stoker-nominated A New York State of Fright, and has a popular Caption Contest on Facebook. Awards include: Leo B. Burstein Scholarship from the MWA-NY Chapter, NYFA grant to publish New York: Give Me Your Best or Your Worst, Eric Hoffer Award, Glimmer Train Awards Honorable Mention, Killer Nashville Claymore Award Finalist, two Grand prize, and three First prize Chanticleer Awards. Crowens writes multi-genre alternate history and historical Hollywood mysteries.


Asta, the dog from the popular Thin Man series, has vanished, and production for his next film is pending. MGM Studios offers a huge reward, and that’s exactly what young private detectives Babs Norman and Guy Brandt need for their struggling business to survive. Celebrity dognapping is now a growing trend, when the police and city pound ridicule Basil Rathbone and ask, “Sherlock Holmes has lost his dog?” Basil also hires the B. Norman Agency to find his missing Cocker Spaniel. 

The three concoct a plan for Basil to assume his on-screen persona and round up possible suspects, including Myrna Loy and William Powell; Dashiell Hammett, creator of The Thin Man; Nigel Bruce, Basil’s on-screen Doctor Watson; Hollywood-newcomer, German philanthropist and film financier Countess Velma von Rache, and the top animal trainers in Tinseltown. Yet everyone will be in for a shock when the real reason behind the canine disappearances is even more sinister than imagined. 

First Prize winner of the Chanticleer Review’s Mark Twain Award for Humor and Satire. 

Finalist in Killer Nashville’s Claymore Awards for Comedy.

Finalist in Chanticleer Review’s Murder & Mayhem Awards.  





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