East Texan Author May Cobb Kills in California

Texas writer brings mayhem to the Hollywood Hills

photo courtesy of May Cobb

“This one is for Liz, my incredible mother, who taught me from a very young age that it’s best to aspire to be an unlikable woman,” is the dedication at the start of May Cobb’s 2023 thriller, the ironically titled A Likeable Woman. It’s also the type of advice that many of Cobb’s female characters, pro- and antagonists alike, heed with a little too much gusto. The dedication serves as a window into a writer who admits to having felt, especially in her youth, at the mercy of pressures that run contrary to who she really is or wants to be. You know, the stuff of life – and drama too. To step outside one’s assigned roles is to court disaster: another feature of the troubled souls peopling Cobb’s page-turning murder-thiller books.

This year’s The Hollywood Assistant will be Cobb’s fourth novel and her third foray into her last two books’ fertile soil of rich people behaving badly – and those who aspire to such strata and liberties. But unlike those characters, most of the folks in Cobb’s latest offering aren’t from her neck of the woods, if you’ll pardon the preemptive pun. Those East Texas forests tend to haunt the treacherous twists of Cobb’s other novels.

“I wanted to task myself to do something different,” Cobb explains, “to see if I can create a setting that doesn’t involve pine trees.”

Cobb combined that desire with her love of the L.A. in noir media, particularly the Hollywood Hills and their “twisty streets and switchback roads, [where] you don’t know what’s coming around the corner.” She also used her experience as an assistant for an actual Hollywood couple as a springboard for a self-described homage to Eighties and Nineties erotic thrillers such as Fatal Attraction, Unfaithful, and A Perfect Murder.

“I love that genre so much,” Cobb says. “I wanted to re-create it in a book!”

That she has: First with an opening straight out of Hitchcock and – more importantly – with perfectly flawed main character Cassidy Foster. As a used-to-wannabe fledgling writer with a debilitating inferiority complex, Cassidy gets sucked into the toxic relationship of a young Hollywood couple on their way up the marquee: Marisol Sterling, a sultry Spanish model-turned-actress, and her husband Nate, "tasty treat" of a talented, troubled, and independently wealthy director, with a wandering eye that mirrors his suspicious soul. "Part of the inspiration was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf," Cobb says, "because I like that idea of how a toxic marriage ends. In that instance, it's the young couple that comes to their place. But I like that feeling of the minute [Cassidy] steps away there's another argument that she would've never predicted could happen."

Cobb’s success to date – features in O, Book of the Month, and The Today Show, and not one but two interviews with Nancy Grace – predict The Hollywood Assistant as another sizzling hit summer thriller. If that weren’t enough, recent social media selfies show happily “unlikeable” Texas mother and daughter Liz and May Cobb visiting North Carolina for the filming of The Hunting Wives, the author’s second novel turned into a Starz series now in production.

The Hollywood Assistant hits bookshelves on Tuesday, July 9, and Cobb will be in conversation that evening at Central Library, 7pm, with fellow suspense author Gabino Iglesias (House of Bone and Rain). 

The Hollywood Assistant

Releases July 9


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May Cobb, The Hollywood Assistant, A Likeable Woman

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