An Interview With Writer M.T. Bass

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M.T. Bass is the author of Murder by Munchausen; here is a link to his website:

 

http://www.mtbass.net/

 

Q: What is Murder by Munchausen about?

 

A: Technology run amuck—but what’s new about that, right? Well, in the near future, artificial intelligence and robotics have converged. Siri, Alexa and Cortana are not just voices in pods that sit on the coffee table eavesdropping on your life and fetching stuff from the Internet. They have extremely human like bodies – in fact, they are called synthetic humanoids, synthoids for short – and act as “Personal Services Assistants” to free us from dirty jobs and menial chores out in “meatspace.” Of course, mankind being mankind, there are those among us who hijack that technology for ill intent and profit, turning synthoids into contract killers. The police unit that tracks down the hackers and repos the murderous ‘bots is the Artificial Crimes Unit.

 

Q: What inspired you to write the book?

 

A: It’s never just one thing with me. Zombie stories being done to death – so to speak – gave me pause to ponder what other incarnate form evil could take. At the same time, guys like Elon Musk and Bill Gates are warning us that artificial intelligence will be the end of life as we know it. Suddenly, I had a vision in my head of the police take down of an android assassin which opens the book. And from there the story started writing itself. The first two installments of the opening trilogy are done.  Murder by Munchausen came out in April of this year and number two, The Darknet, will be released February 2, 2018.  I’m working on the “compelling conclusion” now.

 

Q: There have been a lot of novels based on Jack the Ripper; what makes your book different?

 

A: I’m not trying to retell the story of Jack the Ripper so much as I am using it to tell my story. Spoiler alert – Jack might not be the only serial killer involved in the series.

 

Q: What makes Jake worth reading about?

 

A: Jake is a good cop, but not a do-gooder. His willingness to bend the rules to save his partner Maddie’s career got him reassigned—in his mind, exiled—to the Artificial Crimes Unit. So he’s not a techno-wiz, but just a regular guy stuck in a strange new world and trying to make the best of it.

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?

 

A: I’m a self-employed sales rep for electro-mechanical component manufacturers who sell into the aerospace, medical and industrial automation markets.  It doesn’t so much influence my writing as it feeds the beast by getting me out from behind my desk and into the real world with lots of impressions of people, places and (yawn) corporate drama. At one point, I managed twenty-five states and five Canadian provinces.  I got a lot of writing done sitting in a United Airlines aluminum tube at thirty-five thousand feet on my way from here to there and back again.

 

 

Q: What is the biggest difference between your books and those of Philip K. Dick?

 

A: I might be admitting blasphemy, but I’ve not read Philip K. Dick. I may have seen the original  Blade Runner when it came out, but it’s a far faded memory. Once I got into writing the Munchausen series, I didn’t want to bring similar stories into my head.  There’s probably more Elmore Leonard or Michael Connelly in the books than the usual Sci-Fi suspects.

 

Q: What kind of formal training have you had?

 

A: I was an English major and a Philosophy major at Ohio Wesleyan University. My focus of study in the English Department was creative writing under novelist and poet Robert Flanagan (http://www.robertflanagan.com).  My senior thesis for my Philosophy major was on the metaphysical aspects of language – like why Eskimos have so many more words for snow than anybody else.  After I got out of school, I just wrote and wrote and wrote and kept writing to this day.

 

With regards to self-publishing, though, my first job out of college was supervising the Text Editing Center at the phone company where we prepared all of the internal manuals and technical documentation for publication.  It was a lot of typesetting and formatting, which has definitely come in handy in pushing my books out into the world.

 

Q: What have you done to promote your book?

 

A: The second installment of the opening trilogy for the series, The Darknet, is being released February 2, 2018.  I’ve discounted the eBook fifty percent for pre-orders and I’ve priced Murder by Munchausen at $.99 for readers.  I’m promoting those deals in as many places as I can.  If the Bookbubbas smile kindly on me, the first book will be free for a limited time in January.

 

Q: What is the worst advice anyone has given you about writing?

 

A: “Write what people want to read.” Every time I tried that, it was crap and I hated what I wrote. So, how could I expect a reader to like it?

 

Q: If you could program an android to kill someone, who would it be and why?

 

A: “I hereby invoke and refuse to waive all of the following rights and privileges afforded to me by the United States Constitution. I invoke and refuse to waive my 5th Amendment right to Remain Silent. I invoke and refuse to waive my 6th Amendment right to an attorney of my choice. I invoke and refuse to waive my 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If I am not presently under arrest, or under investigatory detention, please allow me to leave.”

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

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An Interview With Writer Alexander M Zoltai

Alexander M Zoltai

 

 

Alexander M Zoltai is the author of the novel, Notes From an Alien; here is a link to his website:

 

https://nfaa.wordpress.com/

 

Q: What is Notes From an Alien about?

A: Notes is the history of an alien family and the role they play in their worlds’ struggles to attain lasting peace and tranquility. It’s also about the final stages of a 500 year war between two planets that are in sharp contrast with each other; one a drippingly greedy Corporate world; one a completely superstitious Religious world. It’s also about a third planet that is, in its structure and function an Alien Being. So, there’s the ending of war, the beginning of peace, and the interaction of a number of different aliens. Ultimately, Notes is about what people can stand, how long they can stand it, and what they’d really rather have…

Q: What inspired you to write the book?

A: Well, I actually tried to write it four different times over an eleven year period—each time was a different way to deal with the major themes of corporate greed, religious fanaticism, justice, and peace. The first three attempts died of swift stillbirths; number four turned into the novel. My deeper desires for writing the book were all tied up in how people relate to each other—the power-grabbing types, the overly-passive types, the rational types, and the mad-as-a-hatter types—how they interact and what might be necessary for them to achieve some form of unity…

Q: What makes Sena a character worth writing about?

A: Well, her ancestors—who appear in the story well ahead of her—are part of what makes Sena a worthy character. The other thing is she’s my “co-author”. She wrote the Prologue for the novel and she gives folks the option to believe she’s real, or not… Within the confines of the book’s reality she’s the character who reaches out—in “electro-mental” ways—with us folks on Earth. The connection to Earth is my way of letting readers know, for sure, that what’s happened in their worlds clearly applies in our world…

Q: What made you interested in interviewing authors?

A: My blog’s primarily about writing; but, also about reading and publishing. I began the interviews because some of my early readers left such interesting comments on posts that I thought they deserved a spotlight post, so other readers could get to know them and their way of working. After the first five or so, I began to range wider—folks I’d met on Twitter, people I’d blogged about, friends I’d made in the Virtual World I visit every evening… I have, as of right now, 84 interviews—people with many books to their credit, many not yet published, many struggling with how to best publish, a few who seem to have figured it all out—the whole enterprise is totally fascinating…

Q: Who was your most memorable interview subject?

A: That has to be Jane Watson. There are two interviews now and I’m hoping to have a third, soon. The best way to indicate why I think her interviews are memorable is to quote just a few of her comments — On why she writes: “To find out, to access an inner world, to explore the possibilities of an image (because I think am a very visual writer), to process my experience.” — On her source of inspiration: “I find inspiration everywhere. Someone once said that a writer’s own life experience is like the piece of grit in an oyster, which the writer’s art and skill then transforms into a completely different and wonderful pearl.” — On what blocks many writers: “It’s my experience that many writers have a wonderful story that they could tell but they go out of their way NOT to tell that story. I believe this is because we are often fearful of recognising our own true authentic self that the story contains; i.e., we are fearful of accessing our own Inner Worlds.”

Q: Who are some of your writing influences and how is this evidenced in your writing?

A: My main “writing influence” comes from C. J. Cherry, Hugo award winner of over 60 Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels. This is “evidenced” in my writing by the way the experience of reading her has bolstered my commitment to write—not “like” her; but with the same devoted attention to character, theme, and plot she exhibits. Also, reading her helped set my mind free of the many misconceptions about writing that the Internet “Experts” poison minds with—she showed me how to write from “vistas” that aren’t derived from what other people are doing. Then, there are John C. Gardner, Robert Heinlein, and Ursula K. Le Guin. They “influence” me by the integrity and passion they exhibit in their work; which, I hope, is noticeable in my own work…

Q: What is the most successful thing you have done to promote your book?

A: Stopping the production of the print version through FastPencil (which stopped the book’s appearance on Amazon {except for a very few copies that are selling for exorbitant prices—prices set by God-knows-who…}) and publishing it on Smashwords for free; which is in concert with making it freely available on my blog and on Wattpad. Then, tweeting about it, in amongst all my other tweets that are about interesting Writerly things…

Q: What kind of formal training have you had?

A: I assume the “training” is about writing? If so, my training (which is “formal” to me but probably not others) is a life-time of reading everything I could get my hands on; plus, years of actually sitting down at the computer and writing, every day…

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?

A: My day job is writing; and, it influences my writing because writing, if pursued faithfully and regularly, will always positively influence one’s writing; but, I live on a small military pension…

Q: If you had a close encounter with an alien, what questions would you ask him or her?

A: Well, I feel like I’ve had a “close encounter” with an alien in my novel; but, that’s another story… A “real” alien? Hmmm… Assuming we could communicate, I would have to ask them for any advice they could share about writing. Then, I’d want to know their opinions on what could help Earth attain lasting peace and tranquillity. Then, ask if I could have a ride in their spaceship…

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Actor Mark Valeriano

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Mark Valeriano is an actor who appears in the web series #CaptchaLA; here is a link to his reel:

 

 

 

 

Q: What made you interested in acting? 

A: I had the most incredible, life changing experience when I was in school at FAU in Boca Raton FL. I had no idea what I was doing with my life, I was just going to school for a communication degree and then I found this opportunity to be a feature extra on Craigslist. When I showed up to the location they put me in basketball attire to play ball with Lil Romeo on the Miami heat court along with the rest of the cast of the reboot of Charlie’s angels. Which ended up getting cancelled, but when I was on set meeting all of them and watching this “whole thing” happening, it clicked in my brain. “This is what I am going to do the rest of my life.” And from that day until this very moment I have been working on this career non stop day after day and I absolutely love it.

 

Q: What is #CaptchaLA about? 

A: #CaptchaLA is an Instagram series that is currently in the states of being picked up so we can finish the rest of the first season. But we shot ten episodes all going to be a minute long for viewers on Instagram. Which I believe is a brilliant idea. When I got brought on to play “Mark” I was so stoked. The audition was different than many others but I loved the concept and loved my character. It follows two sets of friends living in LA and how they end up coming together. I don’t want to release too much now as we have so much planned for the future! Kareem Cox (Director) in my opinion has struck gold with this idea.

 

Q: What role do you play? 

A: So I play, ironically, “Mark” which was a perfect fit. I honestly like when my character name is my own name. I play the goof who thinks he’s too cool for school. He thinks he has a ton of game and in some ways I think he does. At least the confidence is there. But it isn’t always received well. But that doesn’t bother him. If one thing or move doesn’t work there’s ten more where that came from. Kind of douche but in a way that you still root for. Or at least I do. Definitely a character I connect with when I’m in my zone.

Q: What common characteristics do you share with the character? 

A: The common characteristics I share with my character are almost a mirror image. I am pretty much a comic relief character, always messing around thinking I’m cooler than I actually am but do have confidence in myself. It’s so fun because I get to goof around on set which is “in character” the whole time. And Kareem allows us to improv which I wish I could do all day long!

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your acting?

A: My day job is cashier/food prep for a vegan cafe called Fala Bar. We have two locations at the moment and I bounce in between both: one on Abbot Kinney the other on Melrose. Both locations are so dope and have different customers, but it is the regulars that I love. So many characters so much life and when you meet around food everyone is in a great mood! Our food I will say hands down is amazing. Nearly everything is made in house and I do believe we make it with love. If you get a chance please stop in. Look out for me and I’ll make sure to give you that neighborhood discount! My job influences my acting in that I am constantly interacting with people. All day long. And how their experience is relies on me being able to adapt to whatever they are feeling. It allows me to examine and explore different types of people every shift. I am constantly learning new things from our customers and from the people I work with, which I believe is important just in life. Always being open to learning and growing as a person.

 

Q: Are vegans better or worse tippers than meat eaters?

A:  I can say, AT THE MOMENT, that from my experience meat eaters tip better0_o I use to work at a different cafe, which went out of business, but tips were boomin there. Here not so much. Just being honest. But the free food offer makes up for it for sure;_)

 

Q: Of all the characters you have played with whom do you have the least in common?

A: Of every character I have ever played I am not sure I can say any have really been of least in commonality. I believe every character that I’ve played has slightly been similar to myself. I am still very young but have experienced so much in my life and that allows me to explore those things and feelings over and over again and relive them in a new light. Which is amazing. I believe the reason I book the roles that I do is because I can make them all very personal and can feel what they are going through. Which allows me to tell their story with real honesty. And I love as well. I have come to terms with the fact that any experience you have good or “bad” is ultimately great and very necessary to our growth not only as an actor but as a human being.

 

Q: What is your strangest Los Angeles story?

A:  Strangest LA story… Wow, this is tough. I have been out here for two and a half years now and it feels like a lifetime. So many first times, so many new things but the strangest would have to be a dream I had at my old apartment. I was sleeping on my stomach when I felt someone grab my shoulder and pull me over out of bed and when I opened my eyes to see the person it was Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I physically felt the grab and pull and he was standing in the middle of my room, and then I woke up. I didn’t really know how to react besides getting up to turn the light off then falling back asleep. Then I woke up just opening my eyes and noticed a dark shadow in the corner of my room. I tried not to look at it as I could feel it’s presence and thought if I locked eyes it would consume me. Out of my periferials I saw it move to the bottom of my bed in which I began to pray hard until I fell back asleep. Only to later waking up standing in the middle of my room arms out to the sides and my head looking straight up at the ceiling. I was so scared and freaked out for two days I felt so out of it. I didn’t even know who to tell until I finally talked with a best friend from home that really brought me out of my funk. I have very intense dreams every night but this was by far the most intense and physical as well.

 

Q: If you could change one thing about the film industry, what would it be?

 A: If I could change one thing about the film industry it would have to be that we should focus more on character driven movies for the theatre. It feels as if there has been this shift or change to mainly focus on the effects or the so out of the ordinary or fantasy instead of grounding these characters. Because I believe every single person goes through so much in their life and to not touch on many of these things or to leave out so much emotion it just seems too simple. Every one is so complex I guess I just think we should explore that more, instead of some of the storylines or plots that we see hit the theater every Friday. That seems very generalized but movies like “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” or “A Guide to Knowing Your Saints” or even “127 Hours” are just real people going through real life situations. And I love to watch and try to connect with that.

 

Q: What makes for a compelling web series?

 

 

A: To me, what makes a compelling web series is one that has strong characters. You need to dig deep with each character because again, watching someone that is real do nearly anything can be entertainment. If we follow a character that knows exactly who they are then it allows us to go on a journey with them or almost as them. Great actors I believe can pull this off. And that’s why we watch them. For me at the moment, “Peaky Blinders” does this impeccably. You get to know who these characters are from the immediate beginning and we want to see what they go through without taking a break…#bingewatchtilltheend

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer Tony Jerris

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Tony Jerris is the author of Marilyn Monroe: My Little Secret; here is a link to the books Amazon page:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Marilyn-Monroe-My-Little-Secret/dp/1475101406

 

Q: What made you want to write about Marilyn Monroe?

 

A: As a former New Yorker, I’ve always had a fascination with “all things Hollywood.” Actually, one of my first term papers in college was on the conspiracy theory surrounding Marilyn Monroe’s death and the Kennedy’s. So, when I was introduced to Jane Lawrence, who started Marilyn Monroe’s first fan club, I thought, “Okay, this is kismet.” I always found Marilyn to be groundbreaking in so many ways, including one of the few actresses of her time to start her own production company.

 

Q: How is your book different from other stories about Ms. Monroe?

 

A: The story of Marilyn Monroe has been told many, many times and from many different angles. This is not what “Marilyn Monroe: My Little Secret” is about. The book is twofold, in the sense, that it’s a human interest story about two kids from the same orphanage, thirteen years apart, who would become friends, and grow to love each other. When Marilyn died, it took a failed marriage, and many years for Jane to come to terms with her feelings for Marilyn, their relationship, and the big question about Jane’s own sexuality. The book also debunks the Marilyn that the public knew, you know; unpredictable, flighty, talented, ambitious and naughty. Instead, “Jane’s Marilyn” is soft, attentive, gentle, fiercely protective, and loving. That was the Marilyn Jane wanted people to meet, her Marilyn. The Marilyn who used to call her “my little secret.”

 

Q: What makes Jane an interesting narrator?

 

A: I think it’s important to first say how I met Jane Lawrence. I was introduced to her to assess her collection of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia and help her get it on eBay because she needed money to buy a new pacemaker. In the first few weeks of our relationship we spent a lot of time sifting through various items, with me guessing what they might go for. Jane had what Sotheby’s or Christie’s would characterize as a “collection” because it was so extensive. Some of the stuff, through years of neglect, wasn’t in the best of shape, jammed into boxes or what-have-you, but some of Jane’s items were pristine and, perhaps, priceless. She also had the most bizarre collection of little odds and ends of Marilyn discards: tissues, napkins (with lipstick and not), notes, matchbooks, and other such dreck that had real value because of the provenance. And as we took our journey through this detritus of memory, I was treated to all of the stories that went with it. Memory can be cruel, but for Jane her recall was spot on, and as her story poured forth about her Marilyn, I began to visualize her story in a bigger context. She always wanted to tell her relationship with Marilyn, only never trusted anyone to tell it “her way.” So, who better to have as a narrator than Jane.

 

Q: What kind of research did you do for the book?

 

A: A lot! You know, one of the biggest challenges I faced when writing “Marilyn Monroe: My Little Secret” was to never second guess myself as I delved into the life of probably the most celebrated of all actresses. But I’m only human and, at times, feared how some people might react to the book, especially the diehard Marilyn fans. I knew what I was up against, and knew I had to verify everything Jane told me so they wouldn’t tar-and-feather me! (Upon the book’s release, I did receive a few death threats from a couple of “those fans.”)  Jane struggled with her sexuality growing up, and claims how Marilyn taught her “how to make love to a woman.” But that is not the core of the story. These two women had a special bond for ten years, and I have hours of audio-tape with Jane telling her story, and contacted those – who were still living – to verify what she said, including actress Polly Bergen, Patrick Miller, who headed FOX’s archive department, archivists at RKO, just to name a few.

 

Q: Several actresses have played Marilyn in plays, movies and biopics; who do you think did the best job?

 

A: I think we can all agree that there’s only one Marilyn, but Michelle Williams did a decent job playing her in “My Week With Marilyn.” There was also a 1980 TV movie titled “Marilyn: The Untold Story” starring Catherine Hicks. I thought Hicks did an amazing portrayal of Marilyn. I also think Charlize Theron would be a perfect choice to play Marilyn.

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?

 

A: I’ve been lucky enough to be a work-for-hire on a couple films, which are finally going into production, and also a ghostwriter for a couple stand-up comics. I did start my own catering company a few years back called called Mangia, Mangia! That means Eat, Eat! in Italian. Growing up, my family owned an Italian restaurant in Upstate New York, where my mother was the head chef. Over the years, I’ve been mastering her recipes, which includes her homemade bread dough recipe. In my spare time, I’m working on a cookbook called “If You Can Make Bread, You Can Make Dough!”  Mama’s words, so you can’t steal it! I’m also the in-house caterer for AMIA’s (Association of Moving Image Archivists) annual events at The Mary Pickford Building. I’ve always said, if I wasn’t a writer, I’d be the Next Food Network Star! As far as how this influences my writing, I believe you write what you know from experience. I’ve drawn upon a lot of my “survival jobs” to create characters that represent “me.” Especially the early years when I bartended, waited tables, or worked as the “dreaded telemarketer!” But I never followed a pitch, and actually developed a loyal client base who looked forward to my calls, which is rare for a telemarketer!

 

Q: What was the most surprising thing you learned in the course of your research?

 

A: One of the most surprising things I learned over the course of my research was, “Old age can be cruel.” It’s actually a chapter in the book, where Marilyn tells Jane how hard it is for a woman in Hollywood to find work as she gets older, and Marilyn was only 36 upon her timely death. The same held true for Jane. I would discover that Jane, at 61 years old, had few friends and lived a guarded life. She had learned that in Hollywood many people will befriend you for what they think they can get from you or what you can do for them. There’s a real cynicism that informs many relationships in this town. Jane knew that all too well, and while she knew a lot of people, they were mostly just acquaintances and not true friends you could confide in or lean on when things got tough, especially as she got older. In other words, she was very lonely, but when I entered her life, she had a new reason for living.

 

Q: There has been a lot of talk about sexual harassment in the news recently. Do you think being a woman in Hollywood is better, worse or basically the same as it was in the 1950s?

 

A: I think sexual harassment in Hollywood back in the 1950s is similar to today – for both sexes – only, nowadays with Social media, it’s like a flood gate for both genders to spill their stories of sexual harassment to entertainment and cable shows. It’s like everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and have their fifteen minutes of fame. Back in the ‘50s, stars didn’t reveal these things in fear of being blacklisted.

 

 

Q: Why do you think Marilyn is still interesting to so many people?

 

A: Marilyn is still so interesting to many people because she was one of the cultural linchpins between the simpler, naïve world of the first half of the 20th century, and the loss of innocence in the second half. She wasn’t as “shocking” as some celebrities of today, as she was a breath of fresh air with a naughty streak. There’s a mystery about both her personal life and death that people will always find intriguing.

 

Q: What is your personal theory about Marilyn’s death?

A: I’ve always had my suspicions that there may have been a cover-up surrounding her death, however, after what Jane’s told me, I tend to believe that Marilyn accidentally overdosed. Jane said Marilyn used to break capsules of Nembutal (a short-acting barbiturate) into her champagne because it would digest in her bloodstream quicker. Leading up to her death, Marilyn was very lonely and in a fragile state. She had just purchased her first home in Brentwood (which I had the privilege of actually going through), and had a lot of time to think. She was fired from “Something’s Got To Give” and wasn’t sure what the future held for her because she had a reputation of not being reliable. The four special tiles in the walkway leading to her front door might have foreshadowed things to come. They read: Cursum Perficio. It’s Latin for, “My journey ends here.”

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer Chris Minnick

 

 

 

Chris Minnick is the author of Ferment; here is a link to his website:

http://ferment.chrisminnick.com/

 

Q: What is Ferment about?

 

A: Ferment is about a guy who grows up in the circus, and then spends his adult life running away from it.

 

Q:  What made you want to write about carnival life?

 

A: I spend about 5 years writing the first chapter about a depressed and scared guy who drinks too much. Then I got over myself and decided to just have fun with it and write a novel. The first thing that came into my mind was a fireside scene I had a dream about that involved dwarfs. I just took off from there.

 

Q: You decided not to do any research for this book; what was the reason for your decision?

 

A: I wrote the book in short bursts every morning right after waking up. Many of the chapters are based on dreams or whatever I happened to be thinking about at the time — eating, showering, going to the bathroom — these things are all featured prominently in the book because these are the things that go on early in the morning. It wasn’t so much a decision to not do any research as it was a decision to not slow down my writing to think about what I was doing. Once I had a few hundred pages written, I went back and spent several months editing it, rearranging it, and chopping out the lame parts. But, when I was editing, I liked how it was coming together and how you just didn’t know whether to believe the narrator or not. It added a level of depth to the book that I never intended, but that I’ll happily accept when it falls onto my lap.

 

Q: Your biography says you have been compared to Kurt Vonnegut and Charles Bukowski; who compared you to these authors and what was the basis of the comparison?

 

A: My sister’s husband’s mother was the first to make these comparisons. I thought it was cool that I could say that I’ve “been compared to” Vonnegut and Bukowski and that it doesn’t really mean anything positive or negative to have been “compared to” something, so I ran with it. I’ve certainly been influenced by both, and I think they are good points of reference for anyone who might be wondering if they’ll like my writing. But I would never go so far as to claim that I’m in the same universe as either. I haven’t been compared to John Steinbeck yet, but while I was writing this book, I was reading nothing else and I became pretty obsessed with his writing.

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and does it help or hinder your creative efforts?

 

A: I make a living by teaching computer programming and writing computer books. Until 3 years ago, I ran a website development company. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked for myself (I haven’t had a boss) for the last 20 years, but it wasn’t until the last 3 years that I really figured out how to not be a jerk to myself all the time and to let myself have creative efforts that weren’t related to my money-making efforts. Writing computer books has taught me to be disciplined with my writing time and to stick with it and finish big projects. But, lately, I have to travel pretty often to teach and that throws me out of my writing routine. So, I’d have to say that my day job both enables my creative efforts and hinders them.

 

Q: How would you describe your creative process?

 

A: The only way I can get anything done is by making it into something that I do habitually and that I feel superstitious about not doing. Once I convince myself that if I don’t finish writing 3 page every morning someone I love will get sick, I’m unstoppable. It’s messed up, but that’s my process. If I’m writing, things come out and I enjoy the process. But, sticking to it and doing it every day takes extraordinary efforts.

 

Q: What is the best and worst advice any instructor has ever given you about writing?

 

A: Best advice: You can’t edit what doesn’t exist. This wasn’t actually an instructor, I think it’s from Stephan King’s book ‘On Writing’.

Worst advice: Wait until you’re older and you understand life better before you write a novel. I spent a lot of years waiting and I eventually figured out that I’d never know anything. I wish someone would have told me that would happen.

 

Q: What trends in literature annoy you?

 

A: I wouldn’t say that I’m annoyed by anything, but I generally don’t like magic or supernatural things or rare diseases or overly sappy stories. I’d like to see a trend towards people ignoring trends, but that’s probably not going to happen!

 

Q: What are some of the things you have done to promote yourself as a writer?

 

A: Lately, I’ve been reverse shoplifting. I bring my book into bookstores and put it on the shelf in the appropriate place. I don’t know how effective of a promotional technique this is, or what would happen if someone tried to buy it, but it makes me feel like I’m doing something to be seen by more people.

 

Q: In what ways is Los Angeles like a circus?
A: I haven’t spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, actually, so I can’t speak to it too much except to say that the old saying about the grass is always greener applies everywhere you go. Any sort of job or lifestyle — whether as a clown or an actor or an electrician — can get to be a routine that you need to run away from. Running away to the circus used to be the ultimate escape hatch dreamed of by kids growing up in small towns everywhere. Running away to California replaced the circus dream at some point. But, for people who grew up in the circus or in show business in L.A. — where do they go when they can’t stand their environment? Do they dream of having a quiet desk job or a stable family? This is the main idea that Ferment tries to explore. The book is also a lot of fun — like the circus should be, but probably really isn’t all the time.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Actor Basil Hoffman

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(Originally published on Act.Land)

Basil Hoffman is an actor who appears in the film The Pineville Heist; here is a link to his website:

 

http://www.basilhoffman.com/

 

 

Q: When did you know you were an actor?

 

A: When the audience loved me is a partial answer to a question that actually has two parts that need to be answered.   When I was in college, in the business school, two girls talked me into trying out for the annual original campus musical play (on the premise that I would meet a lot of girls, which I did).  The joy of performing for an audience and the laughter and applause I got as a reward completely changed my life’s direction.  I knew from that point that I needed to be an actor.  Even though it took me ten years after making that decision until I made a livable amount of money as an actor, my determination to pursue an acting career never waned.

 

Part two of my answer is this:  My career and the respect I get from those I respect in my industry let me know that I’m an actor.   I know there are many people in my line of work who feel comfortable calling themselves actors, which makes perfect sense.  Still, I feel better having other people call me an actor.  I can’t explain why.

 

Q: What is “The Pineville Heist” about?

 

A: “The Pineville Heist” is a suspense film about a teenager who witnesses a murder and subsequently becomes embroiled in the killer’s quest to retrieve the missing proceeds from his bank heist.  The boy is caught in a web of danger and deception until the end.

 

Q: What made you perfect to play the role that you play in the film?

 

A: The writer/director’s choice for me to play the part made me know that I must be perfect for it.  I didn’t audition (as often happens) for the role, so Lee Chambers, who created the project, left it up to me to find the qualities that he saw.  As a character kind of actor, I only become “perfect” (if that is possible) for a role by immersing myself in the material.  I don’t know how to play a part until I get to work on it, and then I usually find the man I’ve been hired to play.

 

Q: You have appeared in four Robert Redford projects. How does Mr. Redford communicate with actors?

 

A: In my experience, Redford hires those actors who he considers to be good actors he can trust to bring something good to the project.  He doesn’t do a lot of directing of the actors because he trusts his casting instincts.   He might do a lot of directing in some circumstances, but I haven’t seen it.  The direction he has given to me was always succinct and enhanced the truthfulness of the moment at hand.  I don’t know what he says to actors in an audition because I never auditioned for him.

 

Q: What is your creative process?

 

A: I begin by reading the script over and over again to absorb all of the information the writer provides about the story and all of the characters.  Then I reread all of the scenes in which my character appears.  Then I learn the lines, word for word.  It’s important for me to learn the lines as they are written, because the writer has created a character who speaks in a certain way.  To arbitrarily change the words would be disrespectful to the character, for the purpose of making the actor comfortable with the script.  Scripts aren’t supposed to be comfortable.  After I’ve mastered the words, I begin to behave as the character behaves.  To do that requires that I know everything the character knows.  (I address this process in more detail in my book, “Acting and How to Be Good at It”)

 

Q: What kind of day jobs did you have when you were a struggling actor?

 

A: When I went to New York to study I got a job on Wall Street doing statistical work from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. five days a week.  $1.50 an hour.  I had to keep that job (with some promotions and raises) for ten years.  I also took additional jobs like passing out fliers advertising plays and movies.  It was important that I never take a job that would interfere with my studies or my ability to audition or take an acting job.

 

Q: What advice would you give to a struggling actor?

 

A: I suggest that beginning actors understand their goals and not get confused about that.  Every actor has two goals. The short term goal is to get an acting job, and the long term goal is to get an acting career.  Other pursuits are directed toward achieving those goals.  Those pursuits include making a living, training, photos, being seen by casting directors, directors and producers, getting representation, publicity, etc., etc.  But jobs are the goal.
Q: What is the worst advice anyone ever gave you about acting?

 

A: There were two pieces of bad advice I got.  One of my first acting teachers in New York said that I needed to give up all of my preconceptions about acting.  That meant giving up my instincts, which turned out to be disastrous for me.  The other bad advice was the admonition that when I went to Hollywood I would have to have an agent.

 

Q:  What characteristics make a compelling war movie?

 

A: Humanity!  “Hacksaw Ridge” is a prime example.

 

Q: How does a guy from Houston, TX get a name like Basil Hoffman?

 

A: I don’t know where my name came from.  I do have a distant cousin in Birmingham, Alabama, named Basil.  My mother’s parents immigrated from Ukraine, and the name Basil (Vasily) is a somewhat common Slavic name.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Actor Scott Vinci

scott v

 

(Originally published on Act.Land)

Scott Vinci is an actor who appears in the film, High and Outside; here is a link to his IMDB page:

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1328866/

 

 

Q: When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

 

A: When I was a kid, I remember I dressed up as Groucho Marx for Halloween one year. Most kids didn’t even know who he was. I just wanted to make people laugh.

 

Q: What is High and Outside about?

 

A: High and Outside is a Baseball film. I had a small part and was never handed the whole script. So, I’m not totally sure.

 

Q: What role do you play?

 

A:  I played the part of a salesman at a used car lot.

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how did you draw from it when playing a salesman?

 

 

 

A: At the time I was working in the coffee biz (Starbucks) so I drew from that by talking to everyone. That’s what salesmen do. They don’t know who their next sale will be! My current day job is managing an apartment complex. Dealing with all types of tenants has helped with every role actually.

 

Q: What is your most memorable audition story?

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A:  I remember in college, I was auditioning for a play, and I forgot part of my monologue. I tried again and was a little too nervous. I still couldn’t remember. I felt terrible and my audition wasn’t that great, BUT I got the part anyway. The director and producer, at the time, had seen my previous work. They knew I could deliver, and I did.

 

Q: What is the best and worst advice anyone has ever given you about the pursuit of acting?

 

A: The best advice was, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” The worst advice was to crash auditions.

 

Q:  How would you approach playing a character that you did not like?

 

A: I would realize the thing I didn’t like about the character and find out why they were that way. Then I would remind myself, that’s not me and it’s ok to be this guy for a moment.

Q: What famous role would you like to attempt?

 

A:  In theater, I think Felix in the Odd Couple.

 

Q: What one thing would you like to change about the film industry?

A: When we go to the movies– free popcorn!

Q: What makes you castable?

 

A:  The fact that I work well, respect everyone’s time, and know how to build a character make me castable.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.