When I was writing the third book of my cozy mystery series, “The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper,” I didn’t consciously think of modeling the story after the format of an Elvis Presley movie. But why not copy the best?
Elvis made 30 films from 1956 to 1969 (not counting the concert documentaries in 1970 and ’72). While he dreamed of acting in serious dramatic roles (he really showed his chops in “King Creole”), the studios and his agent locked him into romantic/fantasy flicks with thin plots and often weak songs.
But despite what critics may say about the artistic quality of the films, every movie Elvis were highly entertaining, made earned a profit and packed theaters. Small wonder the studios had him churn out three films a year.
So how does my book resemble an Elvis movie?
My series protagonist is Sandy Fairfax, a former teen idol in his 30’s who is charismatic, good looking, funny and smart. He loves women and they adore him. He has rabid fans, plays guitar, and can break your heart with a song.
Sounds like Elvis, doesn’t it?
Elvis sang several songs in his films. Sandy performs seven concerts aboard a cruise ship.
Elvis movies had pretty young women. My cast of secondary characters includes: Celeste, Sandy’s attractive sister; Cinnamon, his beautiful choreographer, and Helen Wheeler, one of Sandy’s former live-in girlfriends.
Elvis films have an antagonist, someone who dislikes the King and is out to defeat him, whether in a car race or to steal his girl. My book has a shipboard murderer. When Sandy starts sniffing around for clues, the killer has Sandy in his sights.
Elvis films had exotic settings. Sandy’s on board a cruise ship headed for the Bahamas.
Elvis always won the girl in his films. Sandy has his eye on a woman but she’s traveling with an old boyfriend. Will Sandy succeed in wooing her away? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Elvis films often had a comic sidekick. Sandy has his biggest fan, Bunny McAllister, for comic relief as well a several oddball characters (who are also suspects!).
Elvis was a scrappy fighter and he generally threw a few punches in his films. Likewise, Sandy fights back when he’s in a sticky situation.
Of course no discussion of The King would be complete without Elvis impersonators. Yes, a couple of them show up in the ship’s Halloween costume gala.
In the best homage of all, each of the 22 chapter headers in my book is the name of a song that Elvis recorded.
So what is your favorite Elvis movie or song?