Category Archives: Interviews with Writers

An Interview With Tyler Perry

Whatever your opinion may be about playwright/director/actor Tyler Perry’s work, consider reading the interview he did with Oprah for the December 2010 issue of her magazine.

When he started out, Mr. Perry’s plays failed six times in a row over six years (one play failure each year, and then he’d have to work odd jobs to scrounge up the money to start over the following year). It wasn’t until the seventh attempt that he wrote and produced a play that succeeded.

During those six years when he was trying to make it, there were times he was sleeping in his car to put together the funds for the next play production attempt.

Too often there’s a belief that one must be successful with the first short story, novel, screenplay, or play written. And that if one fails, that means one has no talent and should just give up.

It takes time to learn a craft and reach a professional level. An important lesson to take away from Tyler Perry’s story is that one must be willing to learn from failure.

An interview with Jane Yolen

No major post this Sunday. I’ve got a looming writing deadline this week that must come first.

However, check out this interview with Jane Yolen at School Library Journal as she celebrates her 300th published book.   She has valuable advice to give on how to be productive and happy as a writer.

Doses of Reality: TALES FROM THE SCRIPT, and a blog post from Scott William Carter

Peter Hanson and Paul Robert Herman have gone and interviewed 50 screenwriters to create the best (as well as the most brutally realistic) documentary on screenwriting I’ve ever seen, TALES FROM THE SCRIPT.   Even if one doesn’t write screenplays, this documentary is worth seeing as a way to understand the joys and hardships of writing stories for a living.

Here’s their description of the documentary:

Screenwriters ranging from newcomers to living legends share their triumphs and hardships in this probing, insightful, and often hilarious odyssey through the world of movie storytelling. Celebrated scribes reveal the fascinating creative adventures that gave birth to beloved classics (and notorious flops). By analyzing their triumphs and recalling their failures, the participants explain how successful writers develop the skills necessary for toughing out careers in Hollywood. Candid and unafraid to name names, they also describe their collaborations with stars including Tim Burton, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Stanley Kubrick, Adam Sandler, Joel Silver, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Bryan Singer.

Also, Scott William Carter has written a realistic thoughtful blog post on “10 Reasons There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be a Fiction Writer.” Here’s a very small taste:

When I replied that actually they’ve got it dead wrong, there’s never been a better time to be a fiction writer, that if I had a time traveling machine and could pick only one time to be a novelist, I’d pick now without question, I’m pretty sure he thought I was smoking something.
But it’s the truth. Seriously.
Don’t believe me? Here’s ten reasons why.

Go read this long post of his.  It’s better than many articles on “changing technology and the impact on writers” that I’ve seen in Writer’s Digest or Publisher’s Weekly.

Ray Bradbury and the Enthusiasm that Becomes a Writer’s Voice

Yesterday I stumbled across a 22 minute interview with Ray Bradbury done by the National Endowment for the Arts’ “The Big Read” program.   It’s well worth watching.  There’s even a loud car purr to relax by 😀

But, watching this interview, I was struck by just how vivid and alive Bradbury is compared to some people I’ve met.  He’s refused to be mocked by the world into disguising, hiding, and getting rid of his enthusiasms, and it shows.

How many people do you know go to Paris to walk the streets while stopping to read TENDER IS THE NIGHT along the way?  It’s the actual physical act of getting out into the world and colliding with it that can generate so many new ideas.

Enthusiasms can also act as road signs of what to write about as a writer.   They can help a writer find his or her voice.  For example, a passion for astronomy could turn into a science fiction story or a literary novel about an astronomer.  And I’ve noticed how “catching” enthusiasm is.  I’m not into cars, but by watching the hosts of “Top Gear” on the BBC talk with passion about cars, I’ve caught some of their enthusiasm and am starting to pay attention to the cars and trucks I see daily.

Bradbury has priceless advice to give on finding one’s voice as a writer, both in ZEN AND THE ART OF WRITING and in this “The Big Read” interview.  Check them out.

Jim C. Hines’ Terrific Survey on How Novelists Broke In

Writer Jim C. Hines has done a very helpful survey of 246 novelists to explore the following questions:

1) Do you have to sell short stories first to sell a novel?

2) Is self-publishing the way to go to sell a first novel to a publisher?

3) Are most first sales of a novel an overnight success story?

4) Do you have to have personal connections to the publishing industry to sell a first novel?

I’m not going to tell what the answers are, because I think it’s important to visit Jim’s website to read his detailed answers and analysis there.

Here’s what Jim says on his website about his survey:

For this study, I was looking for authors who had published at least one professional novel, where “professional” was defined as earning an advance of $2000 or more.  This is an arbitrary amount based on SFWA’s criteria for professional publishers.  No judgment is implied toward authors who self-publish or work with smaller presses, but for this study, I wanted data on breaking in with the larger publishers.

247 authors from a range of genres responded.  One was eliminated because the book didn’t fit the criteria (it was for a nonfiction title).  A random audit found no other problems.

The first part of the survey is Novel Survey Results, Part 1 (answers questions 1 & 2).   Second part has just been posted today as Novel Survey Results, Part 2 (answering questions 3 & 4).  There will be a third part next week.