Dark Tale Inspired By ‘Suicide Bridge’

Author and journalist Chip Jacobs and his recently published first novel, “Arroyo,” which is set in Pasadena with many local reference points.
Courtesy photos

The Colorado Street Bridge is a famous — and infamous — concrete arch that rises 150 feet above Pasadena’s seasonal Arroyo Seco river. It was built in 1912 to ease travel between Pasadena and Los Angeles, but has been dubbed “Suicide Bridge” due to the numerous people who have jumped to their deaths from it over the years.

Author and journalist Chip Jacobs, who was born and raised in Pasadena, recently published his debut novel, “Arroyo,’’ which was inspired by the Colorado Street Bridge. On Wednesday, Jan. 8, Jacobs will discuss his book at the Woman’s Club of South Pasadena.

“The premise of a young inventor and his mischievous, slightly psychic dog was something that slowly fermented as I contemplated my debut novel around 2011,” Jacobs told the Review.

“Then, after researching a feature article about the origins of Pasadena’s Colorado Street Bridge, I realized that I had the backdrop for which I had been searching. It was the most challenging story I’d ever tackled.”

Readers will recognize many local attractions that made the Pasadena area so enchanting, including the Ostrich Farm, the Hotel Green, and more.

“Nick Chance, my anti-hero protagonist, was an extension of me,” Jacobs said. “His dog, Royo, was an exaggerated version of my now 16-year-old Lab-boxer, Auggie. I’ve always been attracted to tales about a boy and his dog, so that came naturally. Adoring Mark Twain as I do, I wanted to parachute the two into entertaining, illuminating adventures on their paths to reveal the good, bad, and ugly — not just about Pasadena’s landmark bridge but also the soul of America’s Rose Parade city.”

Jacobs’ upcoming talk at the Woman’s Club of South Pasadena Clubhouse is open to the public and will be followed by a luncheon at noon. Book sales and signings will also be available.

“I hope readers will be entertained by a book following an early-Pasadena homer who falls upwards into his dream job installing at the base of the Colorado Street Bridge solar lamps he’s invented,” Jacobs said.

“Sunny optimist Nick believes his hometown is Eden, and the bridge the most glorious engineering modern civilization has ever seen. When he uncovers more about the concrete structure’s roots than he imagined, he’s thrust onto the horns of a dilemma, where he needs to make a choice. Sometimes it takes two lives to get it right once.”

Jacobs has received numerous accolades and awards for his writing, and has been honored by the Independent Publishers’ Book Awards, the Indies Book of the Year Contest, the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature and the Southern California Book Festival. He’s also won seven Los Angeles Press Club/Southern California Journalism Awards.

“Pretty much everything in the book about the city, bridge and its environs are true, based on endless hours of research I owe so many thanks for providing,” Jacobs said. “ ‘Arroyo’ is not your typical historical novel that stays inside the usual genre guardrails. I wanted to pen something different, something both provocative and full of heart and whimsy. In a perfect world, my follow-up novel will center around Pasadena and will reflect my own growth as I strive ahead in the city I still treasure.”

The club meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. and Jacobs’ program starts at 11 a.m. Cost is $15 per person. The Woman’s Club of South Pasadena is located at 1424 Fremont Ave. For reservations, call (626) 720-6503. For more information about the novel, visit chipjacobs.com.