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— Steve Sporleder

Boardwalk Beat Down

by Steve Sporleder


We first met the likeable Los Gatos P.I., Grady Prescott, in Hobo Ashes, as he struggled to quit the bottle, regain his self-confidence, and resolve a long-standing murder case. Now Grady runs a fast-paced race toward resolving a complicated set of crimes that stack on top of each other with the plot and character twists that begin and end near the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Grady’s fiancée, Hazel, sticks right by his side through murder and muggings—or does she?

Veteran writer, Steve Sporleder, once again drawing on his extensive knowledge of Los Gatos and environs, infuses his story with local flavor and historical tidbits, and keeps us on the edge of our seat as we follow an unsettling plot that winds through the Santa Cruz mountains, to spontaneously set-up gambling houses in rich and fertile farm country, and back again to the Boardwalk.


Steve Sporleder

 

 

Steve Sporleder was a lifelong resident of Los Gatos, California, and spent thirty-two years in the fire service.

He drew on his experience as a fifth generation Los Gatos resident to infuse his writing with local flavor and history.

 

Boardwalk Beat Down

278 pages, 5.5" x 8.5"

ISBN: 978-1-61170-215-6

"Boardwalk Beat Down" —paperback available from Ingram Books or from any of the links below:
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Sporleder manipulates a plot that twists and surprises like the roller coaster at the Boardwalk. A fascinating story of intrigue, corruption and murder.
—Lyn Dougherty, Los Gatos Library Board

Ex-cop turned P.I., Grady Prescott, is the thinking reader’s gumshoe with a quest for justice in 1948 Los Gatos. With an investigative reach into Santa Cruz, Monterey, and L.A. counties during a post-war time of critical social and economic change in California, Grady untangles a complicated web of deceit that binds his finacée, former cop colleagues, and mobsters together in a case that will forever alter the way you think of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.
—Jade Bradbury, Art Curator and Writer

Sporleder hits his stride with the detective novel and enhances the genre with his fascinating addition of local history. By the time you figure out whodunit, you’re ready for Grady’s next nearly unsolvable case and you hope he kept a nice, thick journal.
—Parthenia M. Hicks, Poet Laureate Emeritus, Los Gatos, and Editor


What’s Real and What’s Not in Boardwalk Beat Down?
A Conversation with Steve Sporleder

I’m a proud native of the great state of California, as were my parents. I was born in Los Gatos and have lived there my entire life, as did my parents. Boardwalk Beat Down and most of my other books, brings into play many actual settings, and composites of settings from up and down the Golden State, but particularly in Northern California and environs – and especially the town of Los Gatos.

The Casa del Rey Hotel in Santa Cruz really existed and during WWII, it became a Naval Hospital before morphing back into a hotel after the war. It was demolished following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, unfortunately, and today only a parking lot is left in the spot that once hosted the first Miss California Pageant.

Fred Swanton, who built the Casa del Rey Hotel also built the Casa del Rey Golf and Country Club that later became Pogonip, a high-end Polo Club that catered to Hollywood celebrities, following the building of the Pasatiempo Golf Club that put it out of business. The club house itself was used for dances and social gatherings.

Castle Beach, or Castle of the Sea, is Seabright Beach today. In the 1900s the Pilkington family built a bathhouse on the beach that looked like a castle and is the source of the original name.

The Brookdale Lodge is an actual place that exists today, now known as the Brookdale Lodge and Spa, and originally known for the brook that runs through the main restaurant.

Scopazzi’s Restaurant near Brookdale was founded by the Locatelli family as a boarding house for loggers in the area and was at one time known as Locatelli’s.

The Bayview Hotel in Aptos is now a bed and breakfast and restaurant.

The Parker Ranch in Saratoga was a real place, originally created by flamboyant dentist, “Painless” Parker, aka Edgar Parker. Today it is a sub-division of elegant homes.

Any similarities to actual people, other than those already mentioned are purely coincidental and unintentional. I hope you have enjoyed this jaunt through local history intertwined within your murder mystery and the high-jinks of private detective, Grady Prescott.

Steve Sporleder
2015

 

 

HOBO ASHES

by Steve Sporleder


In Hobo Ashes, veteran writer Steve Sporleder takes us on a journey with Detective Grady Prescott, who is hell-bound to solve a murder that is close to his heart. In this historical murder mystery, Sporleder draws on his experience as a fifth-generation Los Gatan to infuse his writing with a local flavor and history that includes meeting post World War II hobos in Los Gatos and along the California coast. They lived by their own well-mannered code, picking up jobs from local homes and merchants, all for a chance to ride the rails with a freedom few can imagine. But unexpected violence erupts, and over the next few decades we watch Grady play cat and mouse with a maniacal foe. This is that rare book that will please history buffs as well as mystery lovers, and Sporleder does justice to both genres.


Sporleder writes with equal parts grit and sympathy for narrator Grady Prescott’s checkered life. Tracking from alcoholic ex-cop-turned-hobo to private investigator on a personal mission to solve the serial murders of itinerant hobos in the Bay Area, Grady thrillingly recounts forty plus years of search and destruction that are in part a description of both his own passage and the killer’s madness...but one of them is redeemed. —Jade Bradbury, Art Curator and Writer

Grady Prescott, ex-cop newly on the skids, faces two monumental challenges. One is to find the person who is killing and burning men in the hobo jungles he now calls home. The other is to salvage his own life, which has veered badly off course due to booze. From the gypsy camps of Los Gatos, to the jails of Tijuana, Sporleder takes you on a fascinating journey filled with intricately woven puzzles, violence, and a chameleon-like murderer. A compelling read. —Peggy Conaway, Retired Los Gatos Library Director and Local Historian

This is a story of skullduggery and redemption—an intriguing mix of a nitty-gritty lifestyle and strong family values. Sporleder uses a master technique to reveal the villain. You will turn the pages as fast as you can. —Lyn Dougherty, Los Gatos Library Board

Hobo Ashes

326 pages, 5.5" x 8.5"

ISBN: 978-1-61170-137-1

"HOBO ASHES" —paperback available from Ingram Books or from any of the links below:

~From the book  ~ Copyright Material ~

What’s Real and What’s Not in Hobo Ashes?
A Conversation with Steve Sporleder

I’m a proud native of the great state of California, as were my parents. I was born in Los Gatos and have lived there my entire life, just as my parents did. Hobo Ashes brings into play many actual settings, and many composites of settings up and down the Golden State. For instance, Golden Gate Park and the football field, Kezar Stadium are real and still stand today. I don’t know if there were hobo camps in the park, but I needed a setting out of Santa Clara County and this site worked. The camp along the Delta was invented by me and is fictional.

Santa Cruz and Monterey County locations were as factual as I could make them. The Beach and Boardwalk are vivid memories from my life. I can remember every zing, whistle and click-clack from there so intensely that I yearned for a sack of fresh popcorn and a candy apple. Casa del Rey was used as a military hospital during World War II and was converted back to a hotel. A parking lot occupies the spot today. The bowling alley mentioned still is operating.

The Garden Grill and Pub in Salinas was not real. The Powder Horn in Greenfield, however, was real. The Corner Club in King City was actually Nina’s Cantina and has been gone many years. The building still stands. The City Café also existed. Relieze Canyon is an actual location and is my geologist friend, Bill Cotton’s sanctuary. I don’t know if a jungle existed along the Salinas River in King City, but it seemed like a logical stopping point for those hoboing north or south along the central coast.

San Diego, Coronado and Tijuana are real; my storyline in those areas was written after doing research about them. My Great-grandfather operated the water taxi from the Navy base to the mainland and from Coronado to the mainland. I don’t know if gypsies camped on the docks or if there were hobo jungles in the foothills above San Diego. Big Basin State Park and the campsite, Huckleberry is real.

Enough of the travelogue; I want to talk about Santa Clara County and specifically about Los Gatos locations. The quarry along the creek existed and there was a hobo jungle there. Los Gatos’ Oak Meadow Park and Santa Clara County Vasona Lake and Park occupy that area. I don’t know if gypsies camped near the Southern Pacific depot or not. I do remember seeing these colorful characters parked along the tracks between Sterling Lumber and Meadow Gold Creamery, near Elm Street. Melvyn’s Mortuary was an actual funeral parlor on West Main Street and Tait.

The Lyndon Hotel was real and sat on what is now Lyndon Plaza on Santa Cruz Avenue and Main Street. I’ve used this hotel in all my stories, but called it the El Gato Hotel. I can’t say why; I’m glad I finally gave this landmark its proper name. Shame on me!

The fire department was not presented in the most flattering way; they were actually an efficient department and Los Gatans should be proud of them.

Crider’s Department Store, the Park Café, the Smoke Shop, Reggie’s, The New Yorker/ The Black Watch, Duncan’s Pharmacy, Spotswood’s Hospital and the La Hacienda Inn were authentic establishments in Los Gatos. The buildings still stand, but the occupants have changed. Abbey Inn is long gone, but Fairview Plaza is one of the oldest established neighborhoods in Los Gatos.

Bert’s Country Inn, I was told, was an actual road house that existed between Saratoga and Santa Clara near Prospect Road and Saratoga Avenue. Hoffler’s was an actual restaurant in downtown San Jose. Austin Corners was a spot between Saratoga and Los Gatos. Hazel Kane’s shop on Big Basin way in Saratoga was made up. The theater described was once there. Melody Ranchland also existed.

The C & J Market was located on San Jose Avenue, near Caldwell Avenue, which is now Los Gatos Boulevard.

Almost all of the streets in Los Gatos mentioned are real; GlenRidge, College Avenue, Walnut and those previously mentioned.

All characters in Hobo Ashes are fictional except for, Gene, Lou, Norman O’Conner and Mr. Nolan. Gene is Gene Rugani, who was a local businessman and instrumental in the growth of downtown Los Gatos. Lou is my father, Lou Sporleder, a Shell Oil dealer. Norman O’Conner was an insurance man and a good friend to my father. Mr. Nolan was the druggist that operated the Northgate Drugs next door to my father’s filling station.

Any similarities to actual people, other than those already mentioned are purely coincidental and unintentional. ~Steve Sporleder

From Sleepy Lagoon
to the Corner of the Cats


by
Steve Sporleder


In From Sleepy Lagoon to the Corner of the Cats Steve Sporleder recounts the saga of four generations of la familia Reyes in powerful, moving terms.

Through his consummate storytelling and details of setting and place, we are transported to 1917 when newlyweds Ramon and Monica Reyes flee the Mexican Revolution in search of the “American Dream.” In a defining moment in the 1940s, Miguel “Mickey” Reyes, their teenage son, makes a life-altering decision late one night in the outskirts of the barrios of Los Angeles that forever shapes this family’s destiny—a tragedy that propels the Reyes away from Sleepy Lagoon and north to the quiet and lush town of Los Gatos.


Sporleder writes with a tenderness coupled with ferocity we always hope to encounter in contemporary fiction, but regrettably, rarely do. In this generational saga history comes alive, history we are compelled to internalize and cultivate in the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds. — Calder Lowe, Executive Editor of Dragonfly Press


358 pages, 5.5" x 8.5"

ISBN: 978-1-61170-051-0

From Sleepy Lagoon to the Corner of the Cats

This story of a son of immigrant Mexicans in California is poignant, thought provoking, and captures the history and sensibilities of the era. Sporleder’s sense of time and place, dialog, characterizations, and situations ring true, as does the description of Los Gatos during the innocent time of mid-20th century.  — Lyn Dougherty, Los Gatos Library Board
The mark of a good writer is a story that provides good descriptions, but allows the reader’s mind to fill in some of the scenes.  Steve succeeded in doing that. I would add, “it was just like being there; and, it was like watching a movie in my head.”  — Gary Clark, Author of Golfing in America
Sporleder’s deft style engages us early on in this singular narrative that weaves the thread of la familia Reyes through four generations, from the 1917 Mexican Revolution to the bubbling cauldron of racial tension in 1940s Los Angeles and, finally, to Los Gatos, California. I really couldn’t put it down. — Michelle Patricia Brown, Physician and Writer
"From Sleepy Lagoon to the Corner of the Cats" —paperback available from Ingram Books or from any of the links below:
5 starsWonderful! ~ Sue
Well, I just finished reading Steve Sporleder's "From Sleepy Lagoon To The Corner Of The Cats" and I still have tears in my eyes. This is a lovely story, spanning many decades, dealing with themes of race, love, family, loyalty, and friendship. (Just to name a few). The author's love for his characters and settings is seen throughout the story, and he does a fine job of relating the tale. The detail that he gives is wonderfully descriptive and I enjoyed reading this novel so much that I was sad that it had to come to an end. If you want an eloquent, well crafted read, don't miss this one. You're in for a treat.
Pages from the book  ~ Copyright Material ~
Sleepy Lagoon
Page 1

 

The Last Short Walk
(In the footsteps of the Black Dahlia)

I recently spent a weekend in Los Angeles, California; my dear Mary and I were there for a wedding. The hotel we stayed in was the Biltmore Millennium in downtown LA. This ornate hotel was built in the 1920's and has been the venue for the early Academy Awards presentations. Numerous movies, television shows, music videos and commercials have been filmed there.

The frescos, murals and marble fountains created a Spanish atmosphere inspired by LA's heritage. The intricate details on the high ceilings and paneling proved that that the craftsmen were indeed, artisans.

Strolling the corridors and gallerias that Hollywood royalty, world leaders, other dignitaries and mobsters walked was awe-inspiring.

The portion of the Biltmore that fascinated me the most was the Rendezvous Court. This room, at one time was the main lobby. It was there in 1947 where Elizabeth Short was last seen. Elizabeth, or Betty to some, arrived in LA in 1946 to become a movie star. Unfortunately celebrity eluded her. However, in death she became infamous. On January 9, 1947 about 6:30 P.M. Betty was dropped off at the Biltmore. She sat in a chair by the bell station and was seen using the pay phone in the lobby several times before crossing the lobby and leaving. Hotel personnel recalled seeing her exiting onto the sidewalk on Olive and walking south toward 6th Street at 10:00 P.M. That was the last anyone saw her alive.

Just as it was becoming light on the morning of January 15, 1947, the severed torso of a woman was found in a vacant lot near the sidewalk on Norton Avenue in the Leimert Park section of LA. This "Jane Doe" was later identified as Elizabeth Short. She was 23 years old.

The newspapers called her the Black Dahlia, and her killing is one of the most famous Open but Unsolved crimes in the nation.

The Black Dahlia murder has intrigued me for years; I've read numerous accounts and reports on it. To sit and walk in the same room where Betty sat and walked; to walk out the same door Betty walked out onto Olive and toward 6th Street, was a walk I needed to take and I did. It was chilling.

—Steve Sporleder


Letty Samonte

Letty Samonte illustrated the chapter breaks in Gallivanting in the Gem City.

For the cover photo for From Sleepy Lagoon to the Corner of the Cats Letty took pieces from vintage photos and combined them until she came up with a representation of what she felt La Familia Reyes would be.

She received her BFA with honors in Illustration in 2001 from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.  She has lived and worked as an artist in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and most recently, Lake Como, Italy.  Currently, Letty resides in the Bay area working as a scenic artist for the theatre, a faux finishing artist and muralist, and illustrator.  She also continues to paint landscapes "en plein air."  Her landscapes have been exhibited in the national juried shows for both the American Impressionist Society and the Society of Master Impressionists.

To contact her drop an email to lasamonte@gmail.com

Gallivanting in the Gem City

Stories of Los Gatos California

by Steve Sporleder


Turning the pages of this book is a step back into small-town life in Northern California. These memorable stories vibrate with nostalgia and warmth as they share the lives of the generations of families living their tears and their laughter in Los Gatos, California. When Steve Sporleder uncovers the trials and triumphs of these characters, they are so real they could be your next-door neighbors.

The Dirty Boys of Boo-Gang ~ A bucolic 1933 summer day turns tragic at the town swimming hole along Los Gatos Creek, catapulting three young boys toward manhood. Their fateful decisions that day have terrible consequences across three generations. This story is a prequel/sequel to Sporleder’s first novel, A Fouled Nest.

Sheen on the Water ~ A father brings his grieving family back to his roots to heal when a tragedy leaves his son Bishop without a mother. Bishop finally starts his own path toward healing when he makes two new friends at middle school. Together, the three friends become entangled in a biker gang’s criminal scheme, which leads to murder.

Tales From the Top Cat Tavern ~ Slide on up to the bar and sip a drink while Tilson, the bar owner, and Milky, the bartender, share three tales of their lives and their redemptions at the Top Cat Tavern. Their post–World War II tales are rich in nostalgia and as cozy as your mother’s pot roast on Sunday.

Chief Spearmint ~ An aging Indian chief, feeling that time has passed him by, finds new purpose in his four grandchildren and in teaching them the lessons he has learned from life and nature. Little did any of them know just how valuable these lessons would be for the tribe one day when outsiders threaten their families and their village.

Il Vapore ~ A young woman in war-torn Northern Italy harbors a terrible secret. When she marries an Italian-American GI, she leaves behind her painful past and moves to Los Gatos to start anew… Until one day that past drives into town in a 1955 beige Chevrolet.

 

Gallivanting in the Gem City

288 pages, 5.5" x 8.5"

ISBN: 978-1-935125-57-0

with illustrations by Letty Samonte

"Gallivanting in the Gem City"—paperback available from Ingram Books or from any of the links below:

Gallivanting in the Gem City is an assortment of original short stories about Los Gatos, California, and some of the inhabitants that have resided there. Most characters in the stories are fictional, so for the most part, if you recognize people living or dead, it’s purely coincidental. There are, however, actual people in some of the stories. I hope you can recognize composites of people, places, and events from your past, and then let him me know that you did. Nostalgia can be a wonderful thing. — Steve Sporleder


Cindy Kalahar
I am the Daughter of Big Jim DeNoon. I was delighted to see my Fathers name in your book, How did you know he was a DJ on radio KEEN?

Man, this so cool! I heard about your dad from a co-worker of mine in the fire service. He would go and see shows at Napredak Hall in the 40’s and 50’s and Big Jim was the host. My cousin, Chuck, was a DJ for KEEN during the 70’s and maybe the 80’s. He went by the name of Bill England. He gave me some history about the station and Cottonseed Clark, who I do remember. I also found info about Big Jim on the internet. I think I was doing some research on Dude Martin. As a coinceidence, I heard from Dude Martin’s daughter too. Thank you so much for contacting me, Cindy. You made my day. Isn’t nostalgia great! Warmest regards, —Steve Sporleder

Jackie Hinds
Hi Steve; Just finished reading your second book. So enjoyable and nostalgic. I was born in Los Gatos, November 21, 1926, in my grandparents home at 50 Cypress Ave. (now Roberts Rd.). My parents, Ralph and Marion Allen Phillips graduated from local schools, as did I and my 3 children. My oldest son, Roy Bailey, was in the last class to graduate from LG Union Elementary. In 1977 when my husband, Randy Hinds, retired from LGPD we moved to Arizona to be Rockhounds. None of my family live in Los Gatos now. My youngest son is a Police Sergeant in Santa Cruz and my sister, Joyce Pearce, lives on the cliff above the cement boat in Aptos. I live in Las Vegas with my daughter Cyndi. Looking forward to "In the Corner of the Cats." Say “Hi” to any who might remember us. Best wishes, Jackie Phillips Hinds

How nice to hear from you. I remember your father, husband and son. Roy and I graduated from LGHS in the same class. I don’t know if you have looked at the web site Hooked on Los Gatos; it has thousands of photos that you will enjoy. Thanks for your kind words and best regards. —Steve Sporleder

Pages from the book  ~ Copyright Material ~
Pg 8-9

Gallivanting in the Gem City is an assortment of original short stories about Los Gatos, California, and some of the inhabitants that have resided there. Most characters in the stories are fictional, so for the most part, if you recognize people living or dead, it’s purely coincidental. There are, however, actual people in some of the stories (as is listed hereafter). I do hope you can recognize composites of people, places, and events from your past, and that you let me know about it. Nostalgia can be a wonderful thing.

Actual Places in My Stories: 

Los Gatos is my hometown. It was my father’s hometown, also. Many of the locations that are long gone may be familiar to you senior grade citizens. I’ve taken liberties with some sites and features. For example:

  • Los Gatos has no Water Street or Waterside Bar and Grill. They’re made up. Verducci’s Boat Works doesn’t exist; the building, however, is Forbes Mill. “Forbes Mill? Where is that?” some might ask. Well, that’s the present location of the History Museum of Los Gatos behind Old Town. If you’ve never been there, you are missing a real chance to soak up the ambiance of Los Gatos and its history.
  • Oak Meadow Middle School is a fictional name. The school building is the site where University Avenue School once stood. That’s where Old Town sits today. The footbridge behind Old Town is described as a wooden bridge that leads to the other side of the creek behind the McKeever home. It’s nice to write fiction and move or remove things so they adapt to the story, don’t you think? For instance I don’t mention Highway 17 by name, and I put back the railroad tracks.
  • The fictional El Gato Hotel is patterned after the Lyndon Hotel. Lyndon Plaza stands on the actual old hotel location.
  • The Top Cat Tavern is a fictional name for a long-gone watering hole on Santa Cruz Avenue. Years ago, it was called Club Gato and the last drinking and dining establishment in that place was Mesa’s Saloon. CB’s of course, is CB Hannegan’s, a long-established enterprise that has become an institution. You can learn a lot there if you listen.
  • The gravel quarry was real and was situated where Vasona County Park is today. There was a hobo jungle there, too.
  • The municipal park described on Los Gatos Creek was real. It had a swimming pool and sand playgrounds with swings. The sand led to the creek, which for a lot of us was more fun to play in than the swings and slides. Highway 17 runs right through it today.
  • The Plunge on the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz is long gone. The museum described does not exist.
  • Boo-Gang was real also. My brothers Doug and Bert and I fished there. My father swam there. Take a walk up the Los Gatos Creek Trail toward Lexington Dam to a spot where the cement channel no longer lines the creek and the banks become more natural. Around that location, give or take a few yards, might be where Boo-Gang was. (In 1933 there was an actual kidnapping, murder and lynching that took place in St. James Park in San Jose, California.)
  • Napredak Hall is still in operation. I have not heard of any country and western singers performing there in years.
  • The Butcher’s Scale is based on a true story out of Greenfield, California, and told to me by my friend Bill Cotton.
  • The Gem City Gypsys did not exist. They were made up by me.
  • I don’t know if the Nazis invaded Cernobbio, Italy, or not. I visited Cernobbio and conjured the image that they did. The Hotel Regina Olga and Villa d’Este exist.
  • The Live Oak Inn and the 5 Spot were actual places. Double D’s now occupies the building where the Live Oak was, and the intersection of Santa Cruz Avenue and Saratoga Avenue is where the 5 Spot stood.
  • Saratoga Springs is still in operation and is located above Saratoga, Ca
  • Swanson’s Ford Dealership and Templeman’s Hardware existed.

Actual People in My Stories:

  • Chris Benson and Johnny Hannegan are the proprietors of CB Hannegan’s.
  • John Baggerly was the editor of the Los Gatos Times Observer and a fantastic Los Gatos character. Rest easy, Scoop.
  • Hugh Welch was the first director of the recreation department in Los Gatos.
  • The character described as Buster was patterned after Bus Benson who owned the Live Oak Inn.
  • The baker Ray Robertson owned the Polly Prim Bakery.
  • Dude Martin was an actual cowboy singer. He and his band may have come to the area to do a show. Where or when, I can’t be sure.
  • Jim DeNoon was an actual radio personality in San Jose.
  • Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, unfortunately, were real.

If you have any questions about any of this, let me know and we can talk. I’d love it! Email me at losgatos.stevesporleder@gmail.com

 

Los Gatos Weekly Times
December 15, 2009

Sporleder's 'Gallivanting' subject of book

Los Gatos inspires lifelong resident
by Marianne L. Hamilton

    Much has been written about the vivid history of Los Gatos.  Steve Sporleder, though, has actually lived it.
    Those experiences have provided the inspiration for the Los Gatos native and author's books.  His newest, Gallivanting in the Gem City: Stories of Los Gatos, California, has just rolled off the presses, and Sporleder will share excerpts and insider's tidbits from its pages at an event hosted by the Los Gatos Public Library on Dec. 17.
     Like A Fouled Nest, his first title, Sporleder found inspiration for Gallivanting in the town where he was born and raised, and from his 30-plus years as a firefighter.
     "Steve Sporleder is a member of one of the 'founding families' of Los Gatos," says Peggy Conaway, library director.  "His paternal great-grandfather came to town in the 1880s.  For more than 100 years, the Sporleders have been firefighters.  Steve spent 32 years in the fire service before his retirement in 2000.  His grandfather, father, uncles and brothers all followed the same calling."
     Sporleder's new book is a collection of eight short stories written about Los Gatos.  All contain a combination of actual and fictionalized characters; some are composites of notable, real-life figures from the town's history.
     "Most of the stories take place in the '40s and '50s, which are eras I absolutely love," Sporleder says.  "They include bits from actual events, like the lynching in St. James Park in downtown San Jose.  I wasn't alive when those events took place, but I remember seeing newspaper articles that my father had."
     Half the fun of reading the book is trying to figure out who's who and where the action originally took place, says Conway.
     "The rich history of Los Gatos is filled with triumph and tragedy, and Steve incorporates many of those events, in a fictionalized manner, in his books," she notes. "For Los Gatans who remember the Lyndon Hotel, dined at the 5-Spot Drive-In or got a snack at the Polly Prim Bakery, Steve's stories evoke a great sense of nostalgia.
     "Tales from the Top Can Tavern, an unexpected death at the Boo-Gang that reverberates for generations, the Gem City Gypsies, the cops, the firemen, an Italian war bride who meets up with her past in Los Gatos... it's all here!"
     Of course, some Los Gatos "institutions" are so colorful in real life that they don't warrant fictionalization: In his author's notes Sporleder lists CB Hannegan's proprietors Chris Benson and Johnny Hannegan among those who appear as themselves in the book ("You can learn a lot there if you listen," Sporleder advises, referring to CB Hannegan's), along with recreation department director Hugh Welch, Los Gatos Times Observer editor John Baggerly and Polly Prim Bakery owner Ray Robertson.  Coincidentally, the latter's son, Jon Robertson, the proprietor of ProColor in downtown Los Gatos, designed and published the book through his subsidiary company, Robertson Publishing.
     "Many of the people and events in the book were inspired by my having lived in town, and by my friends," says Sporleder. "But I got the idea for the last story, 'Il Vapore,' when I went on vacation to Lake Como in Italy.  Walking on those cobblestone streets, I could almost hear the clicking of Nazi boots.  I don't know whether they actually invaded that region or not, but I was inspired just by being there."
     Local history buffs and book fans can hear Sporleder reading from his new title and have him autograph their copies at the Dec. 17 event, which is being presented by the Los Gatos Public Library... The library will have copies of the book available for purchase at the event (Amazon carries the title as well). 
     Sporleder's third book, In the Corner of the Cats, which traces the trials and successes of a fictional Hispanic family living in World War II-era Los Angeles, will be published in 2010.

 

A Fouled Nest

by Steve Sporleder


Venice Webb fled the family nest in Los Gatos, California, as a young man, never understanding the reason for his father’s neglect or the other bizarre family dynamics—and knowing he probably never would. Now, some thirty years later, the truth is closing in on him like a freight train at full speed.

A former firefighter and recovering alcoholic in his mid-fifties, Venice normally spends his days tackling the endless maladies common to most aging baby boomers, trying to remain sober, and working a well-established career as a fire-cause investigator for a Seattle-based international insurance company. But his daily routine is interrupted by a phone call from his older sister, Lydia Webb. Their father, Wendell Webb, has died.

Although apathetic about his father, Venice feels obligated to help his sister and uncle with funeral arrangements and estate issues, and he heads back to Los Gatos. Before long, Venice’s bittersweet homecoming turns into a complete life change when he moves back home.

The abrupt decision allows him to reconnect with his high school girlfriend, Kate, but it also exposes more than one dark family secret. In a starting mix of abrupt confessions, resurfacing memories, and disturbing clues, Venice is left to piece together the incidents that have forever marked the Webb family.

A Fouled Nest

180 pages, 5.5" x 8.5"

ISBN: 978-1-935125-56-3

"A Fouled Nest" —paperback available from Ingram Books or from any of the links below:

Those readers familiar with Los Gatos are probably scratching their heads about locations depicted in my stories. I took liberties with street names and various areas. Though all of the characters depicted in the book are fictional, they are also composites of persons I've met throughout my life. The Webb clan is totally fictional. Their actions and demeanor are made up. The only things that I gleaned from my parents for these stories were their nostalgia and insight into life in Los Gatos during their formative years.  —Steve Sporleder

Pages from the book  ~ Copyright Material ~
Pg 8-9

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Hobo AsheseBook ISBN: 978-1-61170-150-0   

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From Sleepy Lagoon to the Corner of the CatseBook ISBN: 978-1-61170-085-5    

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Gallivanting in the Gem City eBook ISBN: 978-1-61170-064-0    

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A Fouled NesteBook ISBN: 978-1-61170-058-9 

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Benefit Luncheon for the Tech Trek Science & Math Camp for Girls.

Hello Friends,

My editor, Parthenia Hicks and I spent a terrific afternoon with some very incredible people at the Palo Alto AAUW luncheon. It was a benefit for Tech Trek Science Camp for Girls. AAUW sponsors middle-school girls at a week-long camp at Stanford. The camp instills in the young women that science and math are cool. I was honored to sit on a panel with three charming and well respected authors; Rhys Bowen, Tracy Guzeman and Michelle Richmond. The moderator for the event was Heather Haven, another fantastic author, and her questions were timely and provocative. It was insightful to listen to other writers talk about their craft, process and research techniques. Barbara Evans was the chair for the event and she was spot-on with her preparations and presentation. And it was wonderful to meet her sons, Ted and Arthur. Palo Alto Books, Inc.was there to handle sales. I'll be forever grateful for this opportunity, and it is always nice to meet new friends.

Best wishes and stay well, Steve Sporleder



Robertson Publishing
Fremont, CA 95030 USA

510-573-6625 or Toll Free 888-354-5957