Denise Hamilton writes that Barbara Seranella, who died this week, was the rare mystery author who didn't have to rely on second-hand observations to create gritty, realistic characters and scenes. Though raised a nice girl from Pacific Palisades, she had walked the walk. Denise offers a tribute to her friend and colleague at Native Intelligence:
She ran away from home at 14, hung out with outlaw motorcycle gangs, lived in a Haight Ashbury commune, partied hard and generally led a life outside of societal conventions, cramming a lifetime’s worth of experiences into a few crazy years.
From what I understand, by her 20s she had gotten sober, reconnected with her family and found a career that suited her idiosyncratic personality – she became a female auto mechanic. Eventually, she rose to service manager and married the boss....
In 1997, her first book “No Human Involved” featuring Munch Mancini, came out....Over eight books set in the 1970s and ’80s, biker girl Munch would give up hooking, get straight and sober, adopt a child, work as a mechanic, find love and lose it, open her own limousine company and struggle to walk the path of righteousness.
Munch lived in a ‘starter house’ in the slums of Santa Monica, back when blue-collar people could still afford to buy there. Barbara’s books are a gritty but nostalgic ride through a Westside that has changed so much in a mere handful of years that it’s almost historic – the only sawdust-floor biker bars in Venice today are faux retro ones.
Tod Goldberg also remembers his friend with a nice story from the night of the Southern California Book Awards last October.