As the world tunes in to the Summer Olympic Games, some may be looking for a name that will never appear in the column showing who won medals in London.
“Lori Lewis is a fake,” said Bill Orton, 50, and someone who would know.
As a novelist, he made up US Army Sergeant Lori L. Lewis. He also created her best friend, Larry van der Bix, and Lewis' lover, the hyper-curvy web diva known as Miss Milkshakes.
Lewis and the others come together in Hope for Change, But Settle for a Bailout, a novel with a plotline that includes Lewis scrapping her way to a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, as a distance freestyle swimmer.
The novel is based around Larry van der Bix, whose fictional forebear came to Long Beach penniless, and made a fortune developing Naples and other parts of the fledgling city. Larry’s family history is woven into the fabric of the Harbor Area, with trips by motorboat across the bay almost a century ago to shop in San Pedro and party with the Scandinavians in town and on the Hill. Larry turns his back on the family's name and money and lives a small life, until he hits an enormous lottery jackpot, and his life suddenly is filled with towncars, penthouses in Vegas, yacht drama on the high seas and a circle of advisors who steer him, but don’t answer the question of whether hitting it big changes a person. Lewis also faces that basic question in her Olympic quest.
“Someone made of the right stuff can hold together in tough times,” said Orton, “but look around and it seems like everyone in America is just looking for a bailout.”
The novel touches on tough times, broken families, and uncertainty about the future. Though not a political book, the book's narrator -- a shaken banker who nevertheless defends his industry -- expounds on capitalism, as others assail the government money poured into banks.
"Lori is the real hero,” said Orton, who said Lewis and other characters jumped off the page in ways he didn’t expect as he wrote the novel, using an ancient manual typewriter he bought at a yard sale. “I expected the two female leads to despise one another, and they became the principal romantic pairing in the book,” said Orton. “Didn’t see that one coming, but their romance is one of the best parts of the book.”
Orton began his novel last September and cranked out 400 typed pages by April, working nights and weekends on his manual typewriter. He then spent three months editing an electronically-scanned version of the typed manuscript, putting the book online. After the first 1000 copies are given away, the e-book will be priced at three dollars. Orton is seeking a literary agent or publisher for a print edition.
“Hope for Change, But Settle for a Bailout” can be found HERE. Anyone wishing to invite Orton to speak to their organization can reach him at email@example.com.
PHOTO CREDIT: Author's photo by Michael Palmer