THE LOCATION SHOOT
The Location Shoot
by Patricia Leavy
Controversial filmmaker Jean Mercier is shooting a film on location in Sweden. While spending the summer creating his latest work of cinematic art, he lives in a nearby inn with his lead actors: Albie Hughes, British veteran of stage and screen; Charlotte Reed, British indie film queen; Michael Hennesey, American TV heartthrob; Willow Barnes, fallen former teen star looking to make a comeback; and Finn Forrester, legendary Hollywood movie star. Mercier invites his friend Ella Sinclair—a beautiful, bohemian-spirited American philosopher known for her provocative writing—to stay with them for the summer. When Ella arrives, Finn is instantly enchanted by her, and soon they fall madly in love. Finn wants to plan a life together, but Ella harbors fears and convinces him to wait until the film wraps to decide their future. In a case of life imitating art, the film they are creating explores “the big questions” and prompts the stars to reflect on the crossroads they face in their own lives. How will their experiences on location affect them when they return home? The answers won’t come until months later, when the cast and crew reconvene on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival—but their revelation will make for one unforgettable night.
Read an Excerpt:
Soon they were soaking in the tub, surrounded by the soft glow of candlelight. Ella leaned against Finn and sighed contentedly as he wrapped his strong arms around her.
“I thought about you all day today,” he said.
“I couldn’t get the image of you with those kids out of my head. You were such a natural with them.”
“I’m crazy for tiny humans, always have been. I love their curiosity, big imaginations, big emotions. When a toddler is overjoyed, it’s infectious. They can’t contain it and it just oozes out of them. They feel everything so fully, so honestly, with their whole selves.”
“Do you want to have children of your own?”
He squeezed her waist and said, “Have you ever thought about it?”
“Have you?” she asked, turning to face him.
“Ella, I would love to have a family with you someday, when we’re ready. Do you want to have a family with me?”
“Well, yes, but…”
“But what, baby?”
“I would want to have children with you, but I wouldn’t want to have them without you.”
“What do you mean?”
“The way I grew up, it just made me not want to do it on my own.”
“You wouldn’t be. We’d be together. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Finn, there’s more than one way to be alone. You spend your life flying around the world to shoot movies and attend film festivals. Where would that leave me? Alone.”
“Sweetheart, if we choose to have a family someday, some things would obviously change. I’ve been thinking about this since we met, but I didn’t want to bring it up and scare you away by asking too much too soon. But after I saw you today, I thought we could at least talk about it. It’s just a conversation.”
“You’ve been thinking about it all this time?”
“Yes,” he said, gently running his fingers down her arm.
“What have you been thinking about?”
“Well, we could take some time to be alone together, to travel. If we had a child, you would both travel with me to film sets. I can get the studio to rent us a house. We’d hire a nanny and any other kind of help we want so you could write, I could work, and we could all be together. When our oldest is school aged, I would only take jobs in LA, except maybe in the summers when we could all still travel as a family. We could show them the world. Being a husband and father would be my priority. You wouldn’t go to so much as a single doctor’s appointment alone unless you wanted to. If I had to give up acting and be a stay-at-home dad, that’s fine too.”
“Wow. You’ve really thought about this.”
“Well, yeah. I can’t help it. Our future spilled out before me when you told me you love me. But it’s just a fantasy. Sweetheart, there’s no pressure. Until today, I didn’t even know if children were a possibility. If we live our lives together, just the two of us, I’d be perfectly happy.” He planted a soft kiss in her hair.
“Just a fantasy?” she asked.
“Yeah, for now. Do you ever fantasize about our future?”
“Well, I always imagined that I’d keep working, but less than I do now. I’d want to spend time with my babies.”
“Babies?” he asked. “How many?”
“Three. Two girls and then a boy. I don’t care about gender, it’s just what I imagine.”
He rubbed her shoulder. “Tell me more.”
“They’d all look like you,” she said.
“Oh, see, in my mind each one of them looks just like you.”
She smiled and he kissed the tip of her nose.
“Keep going,” he said.
“Well, I like your idea of traveling together. I imagined that…”
“Tell me anyway.”
“Well, it’s just a fantasy, but I can picture us buying a little house in the French countryside for summers and holidays. You know, one of those old stone houses with wooden beams on the ceilings and a wood-burning stove, with plenty of room outside for the kids to roll around in the grass and a space for me to write.” She crinkled her nose and shook her head. “I told you, it’s silly.”
“Not to me. I think it sounds perfect,” he said, kissing her. “So, two girls and a boy, huh? I should warn you, I’ve always liked traditional names, like Emily and Sarah. I’m guessing you gravitate toward more free-spirited names like Lula Belle or Blue Moon. I’m prepared to fight you on this.” He playfully put up his dukes, but she grabbed one of his hands and kissed it.
She laughed. “Actually, I was thinking if we had a girl, maybe we’d call her Betty. It’s completely traditional, but modern too. I don’t know. It’s just a thought.”
“Betty, huh? I love it. And you know what else? I love you.” He stopped to stroke the side of her face. “I love you so much, Ella. There’s no fantasy we can’t make a reality if we choose to. Come on, sweetheart. Let’s dry off and slip into bed. I want to show you exactly how I feel about you.”
About the Author:
Patricia Leavy, PhD, is an award-winning, best-selling author. She was formerly Associate Professor of Sociology, Chairperson of Sociology & Criminology, and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College. She has published more than forty books; her work has been translated into many languages, and she has received more than forty book honors. Her last novel, Hollyland, was featured on She Reads in “The Most Anticipated Romances of Spring 2023” and was the 2023 Firebird Book Awards 1st Place Winner in Pop Culture Fiction and 1st Place Winner in Summer/Beach Read. Patricia has also received career awards from the New England Sociological Association, the American Creativity Association, the American Educational Research Association, the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and the National Art Education Association. In 2018, she was honored by the National Women’s Hall of Fame and SUNY-New Paltz established the “Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice.” Patricia lives in Maine. In addition to writing, she enjoys art, reading, and travel.
Q&A With the Author
What was your inspiration for writing this book?
It was a lockdown project. Like so many others, I was bored at home, binge watching movies, double fisting chocolate bars, and filled with existential doom. I wanted to escape to someplace joyful, romantic, and creative. Due to the pandemic, I was thinking about the big questions of life, and so I decided to write a novel about a group making a film about the meaning of life and living together in seclusion. Given the topic of the film, my heroine became a philosopher who joined them for the summer.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Honestly, I loved writing this book more than I could possibly say. I’ve written over 40 books, and this was by far one of my very favorites from beginning to end. My absolute favorite part of writing the book were the scenes between Finn and Ella. They make me believe in love. I absolutely love their relationship, the sweet and the sexy bits. Their love just radiates from them, and I felt like it lived inside of me too while I was writing. I also loved writing scenes of the whole group. Jean Mercier, the filmmaker, is eccentric and a bit dark, but wickedly funny. I especially loved writing the banter between him and Ella. They made me laugh. I hope this book gives readers all the feelings, but mostly just joy.
Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?
I loved writing Ella and Finn’s love story so much, that I didn’t want to leave it. My next novel, After the Red Carpet, picks up where The Location Shoot ends. It comes out in September 2024 (She Writes Press). I’m also working on a series of romance novels that explore different dimensions of love. It’s been a wonderfully creative time.
Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?
I’ve fallen completely in love with writing about love. My recent novels have all been romances, but not rom coms. They are about love itself—all different kinds of love—and passion, for lovers, friends, art, creativity, ideas. The novels I’ve been writing are about romance, the healing power of love, and self-discovery. I’ve become obsessed with these kinds of love stories and plan to continue writing them.
Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?
The Location Shoot brought me so much joy and warmth. Writing it was like being wrapped in a big hug. I hope it does the same for readers. I hope it makes people believe in love in every sense of the word and consider the crossroads they may be at in their own lives, with hopeful and brave eyes. Life is hard, and temporary, but there’s so much beauty too.
Patricia Leavy will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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