Shortly after World War II, a 130-person production crew from Warner Brothers Pictures arrived in Naples, Florida, having arrived to shoot Everglades action scenes for their feature-length thriller, Distant Drums, and, in so doing, increased the sleepy fishing village’s population by nearly ten per cent. I arrived in Naples as a Yankee child two years later. Though the Warner stars and film crew unit had vanished, the place was still abuzz.
You see, Gary Cooper, the “world’s most handsome man,” had walked among the natives and, they were certain, things would never be the same.
Twenty-five years afterward, I returned to nearby Fort Myers, Florida after living and working in Texas. Having never quite forgotten the fuss that the Naples citizenry (read, women) had made in Naples decades earlier, I drove to Naples and began to research Hollywood’s momentous visitation. After discovering in microfiche archives an odd but intriguing coincidence concerning two female Warner extras—they were, apparently, sisters—I was inspired to write a novel about two fictional sisters I very well may have known.
Sunny Side Up! to be released in March of this year, is the resulting lighthearted, retro-romance based on those fleeting days in Naples during which Hollywood actors, administrators and technicians haunted its restaurants, bars and environs, set in the imaginary town of Vireo, Florida.