I want to thank you. I appreciate you
taking time from your busy schedule so I can interview you. Doug, you know I just adore you
and I’m certain my readers will too!
1.To begin, how would you
am a romantic dreamer meaning, basically, that I'm a sad person who laughs a
sort of actor are you?
oI am an instinctive performer much like Spender Tracy, whose one
piece of acting advice was "Learn your lines and don't bump into the
furniture." I have been told by three separate directors that I can
"change characters faster than any actor (they've) ever worked with."
I played three characters in 20 minutes in a Wild West Stunt Show, and did a
stage comedy (Leaving Iowa) in which I played 12 characters in the same show. I
do voice work, accents, radio (including the Left Behind and Left Behind: TheKids shows), film and theater. I have directed quite a bit of theater (though I
find directing too nerve wracking; particularly once the show has opened). I
have no acting method; acting classes and theory bore the hell out of me.
2.Let’s talk about DRACULA’S
DEMETER for a moment. In your own words, can you tell us what this
book is about?
is the tale of Count Dracula's voyage to England hidden in the hold of a
sailing ship. Bram Stoker gave the bare bones of this story in Chapter 7 of the
classic novel Dracula, the unnamed captain of a Russian schooner takes on board
50 boxes of soil bound from Varna to Whitby. No one on board realizes that
inside one of the boxes is the king of vampires. I took those few scant journal
entries and created the crew and events aboard the ship, Demeter.
oIt's an epic, romantic fantasy, with simmering horror beneath. I
wrote in detail about the origins of the book for the great folks at Vamped.org.
If anyone's interested, that article is here: http://vamped.org/2014/01/29/old-vampire-sea/
you involved with writing the script or will you be performing in the
production? Why or why not?
oI've signed to co-write the film with Brian. As is always the
case with projects in development, a lot of elements are still up in the air.
Brian is deep in production right now as writer/producer with a ThunderBalltelevision project based upon his series of Jack the Ripper books. It looks
like it will be a great show! (And several great films after that.) And I'm
very busy trying to finish my next novel.
oAs it stands, Brian has written an opening scene for Dracula'sDemeter. Several talented actresses have been cast for prospective roles. I
have written a number of sequences that I feel will be amazing when, and if,
they make it into the script and onto the screen. But nothing has been
finalized and we're certainly a long way from a shooting script.
oIt is tentatively scheduled for production in 2017. Movie making
is a wonderful business where anything can happen. We'll just have to see. I
must say for Mario and Brian to even ask about bringing the book to the screen was
3.Tell us about your acting
know you have been a theater actor for over forty years now. In addition to your stage performances, you
have been involved with films.
sort of actor are you?
oDo you consider yourself a
stage performer or a film actor?
oAre you a character actor,
physical comedian, or don’t you have a particular style you prefer?
By this, I mean, Johnny Depp is a
character actor; he becomes each character, while Nicholas Cage is basically
the same guy in each movie. Both are great
actors, but their styles are different.
Going a step further, though Johnny Depp is a character actor, just as
Robin Williams was, Robin was also a physical comedian. His comedy was full-bodied; he literally
threw himself into whatever the joke demanded of him.
ØAny actor that's any good or has any staying power is a
performer that can play whatever the situation calls for. It's necessary
because, not only do the venues and mediums change, but so do audience tastes.
I am, and always will be, a stage actor.
ØI've done broad comedy (stunt shows), stage comedy, thrillers,
and musicals (playing Oscar Madison to Li'l Abner). I once played a singing
ØI enjoy television. There you can play more naturally, but the
material is usually fairly broad. I love making films, but delicious film
making opportunities are few and far between, particularly now that I'm middle
aged. I get a lot of offers to play alcoholics wearing wife beaters and
dropping the F-bomb every other word. (I turn them down.)
ØAmerican films are made with young people for young people. In
England, brilliant actors work well into their eighties with no slow down.
Here, former stars sell aspirins and hearing aids if they want to
did you first get into acting? Were you
in theatre first or film?
oI got into stage acting in a serious way at the age of fourteen.
Four family members, including my father, were killed in an arson house fire.
The school drama teacher took me under his wing, became a second father to me.
Dan Danielowski taught me everything there was to know about theater, acting,
directing. Both Dan and Mark Jansen, a fellow class mate and director, lighting
and art director, teach professionally today and run their own theaters. The
friendships have lasted a lifetime. I had the great privilege of appearing in a
show for Mark just last year. (The Sunshine Boys, I had the Walter Matthau
an amateur actress myself, having worked in theatre, as well as, on television,
I get the different demands of each performance style. However, not everyone will know how these two
disciplines compare. Can you explain the
different demands required for each?
oFirst, all require the ability to perform. Beyond that, theater
requires a strong memory for lines with a lesser reliance on technique. You
take the stage and live the performance from beginning to end. Film requires a
precise memory for technique and far less reliance on lines. You must be
exacting in your movements to hit marks (so you stay in frame and in focus) and
key lights (so you look right for the camera.) But film is shot in individual
set ups, usually lasting less than two minutes. You need only remember that
much dialogue at a time. Theater requires a presence; the back row of a theater
seating 400 deserves the same performance as the front row. In film, the camera
will come and find the performance in you, if you let it. It's much more
intimate, but difficult to put into words.
you prefer one discipline over the other and if so, why or why not?
oAs a performer, I appreciate the intimacy of film acting. I love
being on a film set. But it is a very personal thing. I have had friends and
family on the set with me and all of them have been absolutely bored to tears.
Film brings personal satisfaction. Satisfaction from a public reaction to film
is always months and months down the road (if ever). If you need a crowd to
like you, then stage acting is the thing.
oOn stage, you do a bit, tell a joke, or take a fall and the
audience responds immediately. Theater brings instant gratification. But your
memory is the only record.
did you move from acting to writing and which came first?
Obviously, I laid this interview
out with the assumption that your acting career began prior to your writing
career, but is that really true?
oI didn't really move from one to the other. I still do both.
They’re two different professions with little in common other than they fulfill
the need to get inside strangers, figure out what makes them tick, and present
those strangers to others for entertainment purposes.
4.Tell us about your amazing
You are an award-winning, Amazon
best-selling author. You have published
titles individually, as well as, co-authored the book APPARITION
with your brother, Dan
awards have you been nominated for and which have you won?
oI put awards and contest wins in the same category. In fact,
winning a contest as a writer is better than winning an award because in a
contest, you get something in the end. And that's what professional writing is
all about (according to Stephen King). You write, they give you a check, you
pay the light bill = success.
oMy first success as a writer was a contest win and publication
in an issue of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. Today, it would be called flash
fiction, but back in the 80's, it was just a short story. I got a check for
twenty-five dollars! My flash fiction story, The Gardener, also netted a nifty win
at 99fiction.net. When you're eating a sandwich bought with writing money it
just tastes better.
oWith awards, you just get an award (and the bitter
congratulations of fellow artists that did not win). For the remainder of your
career you'll need to dust off both the award and the fellow artists. LOL!
Besides, I'm usually the bridesmaid as far as awards go. I have been nominated
for a Rondo Hatton Award and a Pushcart Prize. My second solo novel, Dracula'sDemeter, was nominated for Best Vampire Fiction of 2012 by the Lord Ruthven
Assembly. I contributed to two Rondo nominated non-fiction books on horror
films, Horror 101 and Hidden Horrors. The latter won the Rondo for Book of the
Year in 2014 (congrats, editor Aaron 'DR. AC' Christensen).
you prefer to write solo or with a co-author?
Why or why not and what are the differences?
oTruthfully, you end up writing solo whether you're collaborating
or not. You discuss the project with your co-author, you make plot and
character decisions with them, you argue about moments you feel passionate
about, and you give and take constantly. But the writing you still do alone.
oThe big difference: when I write solo, nobody sees the work
until I'm ready to show it. Collaborating means you have to turn your raw work
over to someone who will not only be critical, but has the power to change the
words. Collaboration requires absolute trust, not just in the writing, but in
the character and motivations of your co-author.
oWorking with my brother Dan on Apparition Lake was a breeze, an
absolute walk in the National Park, because I don't just trust him with my
words, I trust him with my life. When we decided to bring that book back to
life in a new edition from Creativia, we agreed on a goal, and met it. It
helped that he is an extremely talented writer!
working with your brother make is easier or harder, in your opinion, to
co-author a novel? What challenges did
you face and were they more or less manageable since you were related? Will you be collaborating again in the future?
oAs stated above, it was clearly easier. I didn't have to get to
know him, I knew him already. I didn't have to wonder what he was thinking, he
told me in no uncertain terms. The worst thing about collaborating with someone
you don't know well is wondering what they are thinking, feeling the need to
walk on egg shells, trying not to rub the other the wrong way. It is a BS way
to write because writing is about exposing yourself! Dan is well aware of my
strengths and weaknesses.
oWe will be collaborating again. I'm certain the dark side of
nature has more to show Glenn Merrill and Johnny Two Ravens and there will be a
sequel or, if not a direct sequel, a companion adventure to Apparition Lake.
5.What can we expect to see
from you over the coming year?
soon, a new horror novel, and after, a new Nod Blake mystery (with lots of
murders, twists, and laughs), and later in the year the already mentioned
follow-up to Apparition Lake.
is your current WIP?
oA novel that I believe will really thrill my horror readers.
It's called 'When The Tik Tik Sings'. It's based on an interview I did with a
fellow from the Philippines over 30 years ago.
oHe claimed to have witnessed an incident that, from his telling
it, has brewed and haunted me ever since. And, finally, the time was right to
develop that 'moment' of horror into a sequence of events in the lives of a
group of characters that readers will absolutely be able to relate to.
oAfter all these years, it's coming to life on paper. I don't
want to give any details. Just let me recommend, When The Tik Tik Sings, coming
you be doing more films and if so, will they be based on any of your other novels?
oWho knows what evil lurks in the heart of me?
again, Doug! I love chatting with you and I’m so pleased
to have the chance to share you with my audience! I pray you all the best, my friend!