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A Movie Mogul Progeny’s Debut Novel

A descendant of Hollywood royalty, Liz Goldwyn tries her hand at storytelling

Liz Goldwyn’s résumé isn’t light reading. She’s been a filmmaker, jewelry designer, fashion editor and art curator—and now she can add novelist to the list. Her October fiction debut, Sporting Guide, is a dive into the world of 1890s Los Angeles and its booming prostitution industry. Here, Goldwyn discusses the project. 

What was it like making your first foray into fiction?

I was nervous! This book is very much inspired by my own life, by people I know and conversations I’ve had. In a way the stories are contemporary, I’ve just placed them in this past world. 

What made 19th-century L.A.’s sex industry an interesting topic for you?

Most people don’t even know that there was an L.A. before the movie business. When we romanticize the past of California it’s all about Hollywood, but my grandfather [movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn] made The Squaw Man—which is considered the first Hollywood film—in 1914, and that’s almost 20 years after this story takes place. 

Do you have a strict writing process?

I’ve recently discovered writing standing up, which is a lifesaver. And even when I write at home, I’m not wearing sweatpants. I might be wearing a 1940s blue silk satin lounging robe, an Erdem dress or a 1950s print dress. It’s all about the kind of energy I feel at that particular moment in time. 

If there’s a recurring refrain in your work, what is it?

I think a general theme for me is highlighting women who have been forgotten or ignored by society, and trying to give them a voice.