Where do you live (City, State, or Country)?
I live in Los Angeles, California.
Your script stood out among hundreds of others. What was the inspiration for your story and why did you write a script instead of a short story or a novel?
I’ve always been a Dillinger buff, but I was inspired to write this by an elderly woman by the name of Elizabeth Butler Klungness, a book editor who worked on a couple of my early novels. She told me a story about how her newspaper reporter father was called out to the Dillinger farm in early July 1934 to talk to John Dillinger and help plan his safe surrender. Lizzie, then ten years old, accompanied her father. She didn’t meet Dillinger, but that’s where my imagination took over. What if, I thought, she had met him and told him that he didn’t look like a bank robber—that he looked like a movie star. This in turn gets him to thinking and he surrenders outside the Biograph Theatre, rather than dying in a hail of bullets. From there, after a brief prison stint, he ends up in Hollywood. That is the premise of Starring… John Dillinger.
How long did it take you to write your script...and what is your writing process? Do you outline...use index cards...white board...or just start with FADE IN?
Actually, the novel came first and then a feature version, which was one of the 2019 winners of Scriptapalooza. My writing partner and I thought there was so much good material that was left out of the feature script, I suggested that we ought to develop the property as an eight-hour limited series, and that’s what we did. As for my writing process, I don’t outline. I also don’t write treatments. I literally just sit down and start writing the screenplay. While outlining serves other people well, it takes all the fun out of creating a story for me.
What is your ultimate ambition as a writer?
My ultimate ambition is to continue to write my novels, publish them, and then adapt them into features and television shows that are irresistibly entertaining. And to be well-paid for doing so. To me, making someone forget their troubles for an hour or two is a writer’s highest calling.
Was your entry at The Wiki Screenplay Contest a full script or “the first ten pages”? Why did you make that choice?
I was a freelance story analyst for seven years when I first came out to Los Angeles. I must have read over 3000 scripts and books, writing coverage for all of them. I learned how NOT to write a script. But the one thing I did as a reader was read every word of every script. I felt that someone who had put their heart and soul into writing a screenplay deserved the respect of reading it in its entirety. And while I believe a writer should grab the reader in the first ten pages, it’s not enough. A LOT happens in a script, and it’s especially important to see that a writer can handle all the vagaries of the form. Thus, I wanted the readers and the judges to get the full picture by reading my entire script.
What’s your all-time favorite movie or television show...and why?
My favorite movie is A Clockwork Orange. My number two film is Somewhere In Time. I have eclectic interests, so I write in a variety of genres, Thrillers, Romance, Time Travel, and Horror, to name a few.
What advice do you have for writers hoping to win a contest or place as a finalist as you have?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself and your work out there. After all, you’re not writing it just to place it in a drawer, are you? That would be tragic. Take a risk, it will be worth it.
What else are you working on that the world needs to know about?
I’m working on a feature length project called Whiskey Mountain Days that is a coming-of-age romance between a twenty-year-old man and a thirty-seven-year-old woman set against the backdrop of an independent motion picture production in 1976. It’s based on my own experiences.