Interview with Screenwriter/Novelist Bill Steigerwald (30 Days a Black Man)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Bill Steigerwald: The true but forgotten story of a daring, pioneering and historic undercover journalism mission into the Jim Crow South of 1948 by two brilliant, accomplished, older men — one a star white newspaperman from Pittsburgh pretending to be black and the other a black political and social leader from Atlanta. Their unique collaboration created a nationally syndicated newspaper series that shocked the white North, pissed off the white South, pleased millions of blacks and started the first national debate in the media (print and radio) over ending Jim Crow legal segregation.


2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Nonfiction docudrama buddy movie.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

It’s a great story about America — white and black — set in 1948 in the Jim Crow South, Pittsburgh and New York City. Often shocking and crammed with historic characters like Eleanor Roosevelt, NAACP leader Walter White and young Martin Luther King Jr., ’30 Days a Black Man’ is also loaded with powerful dramatic events like bloody race riots and the country’s last mass lynching. It’s a timely and important subject, co-stars two brilliant, mature characters (think Jeff Bridges and Samuel L. Jackson), and deserves to be made into a sophisticated six- or seven-part Netflix-like series.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Shocking history.

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Tie: “1984” and “Brazil”

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Six months (it’s adapted from my own nonfiction book, ’30 Days a Black Man.’

7. How many stories have you written?

Thousands of newspaper articles, feature stories and op-ed columns over 35-plus years as a newspaper and magazine journalist. Two nonfiction books — ‘Dogging Steinbeck’ and ’30 Days a Black Man.’ Several attempts at screenplays.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

I’m old. Too many great ones to choose — anything by Hendrix, Pretenders, Tom Petty, Billie Holiday, Count Basie et al.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Not finished. I wrote three episodes of a series, written to show potential of the story and the rich historical setting.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Jazz. Journalism.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

In 1948 a daring white newspaperman from Pittsburgh disguises himself as a black man and goes undercover for a month in the Jim Crow South. What he sees makes him ashamed to be an American. What he writes wakes up the whole country. What he and the brilliant black leader who protected him from the KKK did strikes an important early blow against America’s apartheid. A true story.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Dobbs: Hartley O. Gyamfi
Sprigle: Joseph Ferrari
Dr. Vaughn: Sean Balantyne
Willie Kirkland: Sheldon Graham

Interview with Novelist Linda Palmer (SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your novel about?

Linda Palmer: A girl meets a guy who is way more than he appears to be.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

YA fantasy/scifi

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Alien invasion

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Divergent

5. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the
most times in your life?)

Perfect by Ed Sheeran

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

7. What motivated you to write this story?

I thought it would be fun and different.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would
that be?

JK Rowling

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Movies and books

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

I wanted to hear it out loud.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Never give up

http://www.lindavpalmer.com

Watch the Novel Transcript Reading: 

Performed by Norma Dawn Dunphy

BUY on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Somewhere-Middle-Linda-Palmer/dp/1499121377

Interview with Novelist Kathryn Schleich (Salvation Station)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your novel about?

Kathryn Schleich: In Salvation Station, three separate story lines come together, all being related. The initial mystery focuses on Captain Linda Turner’s obsession to solve the murders of a pastor and his two small children. The spouse is no where to be found. The second story line concerns a televangelist, Rev. Ray Williams, about to shutter his poorly performing Road to Calvary TV program, when he is approached by a mysterious woman claiming God spoke to her in a dream giving direction on how to save the program. The third story line concerns long-time program devotee, Ruth Perkins, and the tumultuous relationship with her only child, Emma, who sees the pastor as preying on the vulnerable. There is crime and mystery while commenting on the dangers of accepting religion blindly as truth.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

Crime, mystery, and suspense.

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Tough women.

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, an Alfred Hitchcock murder/mystery.

5. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

So many songs, so little time! Current favorite songs are Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”, “Born This Way”, “Shallow”, and “Pop Art”, Adele’s “Rumor Has It” and the theme from “Skyfall.” As well as almost anything Prince and Ella Fitzgerald.

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

More than one. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Moo by Jane Smiley, and The Dry by Jane Harper.

7. What motivated you to write this story?

I was married to a Catholic Deacon for over 20 years and witnessed first-hand the hypocrisy and dangers of religion. There is a very dark, sordid side to faith, especially when people just want to be told what to believe. On the crime side, my brother died under suspicious circumstances, and the more i dug, the weirder it became and I spent a lot of time working with law enforcement. I was confronted by true evil, so it’s relatively easy to draw on a real sociopath for the antagonist. People know evil exists, but what they’re not expecting is for it to come into their lives.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

Michelle Obama. She is gracious in the face of racist and nasty comments, incredibly smart, funny, and an amazing role model.

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

My volunteer work, especially with the Wilder Foundation is St. Paul, Minnesota. I’m particularly proud of my endowment to provide every child enrolled in a Wilder program with all the necessary supplies to begin the school year.

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

I wasn’t sure Salvation Station would ever be published, and I wanted to witness the work in a different form besides being written on the page.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Write what you are passionate about and be patient, as hard as that can be. Immediately after entering the Novel Festival I found a publisher, for which I am truly grateful. Live the golden rule – treat others as you would like to be treated.

Interview with Novelists Mary Maloney & Ed Markel (The Menopause Murders)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your novel about?

Mary Maloney & Ed Markel: A codependent housewife who feels worthless and ignored is transformed into a confident, successful artist when menopause broadsides her. Trouble is, she happens to kill a bunch of people along the way, and her husband, lead homicide detective, is hot on the tail of the Tacoma Terror.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

Dark comedy/mystery/women’s fiction

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Insanely hilarious

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Strictly Ballroom

5. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

Psycho Killer by Talking Heads

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

Nope

7. What motivated you to write this story?

Four years of hell (menopause) and the need for some comic relief.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

I wouldn’t want to eat dinner or do anything with a dead person! How could you ask that?

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Labs, wine, chocolate, my grandkids. Not necessarily in that order.

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

To hear how someone might interpret and portray the character.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Do you have a few weeks? Short answer: learn the craft well before attempting to write a novel.

Watch the Novel Transcript Reading: 

Go to the website: https://www.themenopausemurders.com/about/

Performed by Danielle Nicole

Logline: When Debbi Dickerson, mousy codependent housewife and mother of two teens, enters the black hole of menopause, watch out. No one is safe from her hormonal rage, and when the dead bodies start piling up, her misogynist husband, Jerry—lead homicide detective on the Tacoma police force—starts to suspect his wife.

Genre: Dark Comedy/Caper

Interview with Novelist Aaron Dennis (The Adventures of Larson and Garrett)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your novel about?

Aaron Dennis: It’s about friendship. It’s about the struggle between good and evil, but it’s also much more than that. It’s about life, love, family, humor, and the struggles everyone has to face. The Adventures of Larson and Garret, Epic the First just happens to be set in a fantastical setting with magic, monsters, and mayhem, and I really think my blurb captures the essence:

A wicked daemon bestows great power on evil men in exchange for worship. An unlikely duo find friendship amidst war and chaos. Godly forces collide. Larson and Garrett are two simple, young men, yet they both have their own daemons. In the face of danger, of strife, they join forces and find friends among the elves, the dwarves, and the orcs. They find knowledge and faith among the Gods. Though an evil air has permeated the once great country of Ruvonia, the band of wizards and warriors join the cause of Prince Roan, for the Magickal Prince wishes only to vanquish that evil daemon called Lagos, that vicious daemon trying to gain enough worshipers to ascend as the new God of Destruction.

More than the blurb, The Adventures of Larson and Garrett is about a boy who loses his family, but he’s mentored into adulthood by a philosophical warrior who truly believes in doing the right thing, whatever that may be. Larson grows up and meets Garrett, who is also a valiant man, and together they find friendship by uniting against an evil daemon who is trying to conquer the world.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

Fantasy, certainly, epic, too, it’s also jam packed with action and humor.

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Amaze balls? Is that two words?

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Hands down, Army of Darkness. I have seen that movie well over a thousand times, and that is not an exaggeration. The kind of humor present in that movie is probably the kind of humor you’ll see in most of work–cheesy but but endearing.

5. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

That’s a tough one to answer, but I’ll just go with what came off the top of my head: Point Number One by Chevelle; I think the music sounds like a raging inferno, and the lyrics are great. I love the video, too.

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

I could honestly give you one of my own titles. If I didn’t think they were the best, I wouldn’t publish them, but I’ll be humble and say Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda. I’ve read all of his books numerous times, and I actually applied Don Juan’s teachings to my life and found them to be effective. Anyone who is familiar with Castaneda’s works will see a reflection of that in my own work.

7. What motivated you to write this story?

That’s an interesting question, and there’s no simple answer. It all began with playing D&D in high school. Larson was one of my characters, and Garrett was a character that the DM also employed, which I know is a rarity in D&D sessions, but oft times, it was just me and David playing, so Larson and Garrett had many adventures.

One day, I decided that since my writing career was taking off, I was going to do an homage to David and D&D by writing some short stories based very loosely off our gaming sessions. Once the stories were written, all that really remained from our sessions were the characters’ personas and the sense of humor rampant throughout our gaming.

I used to just give the short stories out for free, but then I decided to compile them, rewrite them in novel form, and fill in the blanks, so to speak. The first epic came together very well, so that’s what I called it: The Adventures of Larson and Garrett, Epic the First. More epics will come once I’m done with my Dragon of Time series.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

It would have to be Don Juan from Castaneda’s books. I sincerely believe he was a real person, whether or not his name was really Juan Matus is irrelevant; he was real, and I’d love to have dinner with the nagual himself in order to better understand the intricacies of the second attention. That probably means very little to most people, but it means everything to me.

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Life in general and living it. I live my life professionally. I am fully aware, I mean I truly comprehend that there are no survivors on this earth. That sounds morbid, but it isn’t; since we’re all going to croak at some point, why not live life fully? I only do what I want to do when I want to do it.

Sure, I’ve scrubbed toilets when I needed a job, and no, I didn’t enjoy it, but I still wanted to do it because I knew it was going to help me get where I wanted to be in life. Just because I don’t enjoy something doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it, you know? But I’ll only do something I don’t enjoy if I know it’s going to get me where I’m going in life.

We could totally get into a whole philosophical discussion here, but the short answer is that I just want to experience what life has to offer and that includes problems and struggles, because that’s how we learn what kind of people we really are. Then, if we don’t like who are, we know that we need to change, so that we can love ourselves, and only after that can we truly love others.

Ya’ might see a little of that in The Adventures of Larson and Garrett….

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

Actually, you guys did a great performance of The Dragon of Time, Gods and Dragons. I know Gods and Dragons, and the Dragon of Time series as a whole, will make a great movie.

Obviously, it’s very difficult to turn a book into a movie, but I think you guys are really helping us indies out by offering your service, and since that first performance was marvelous, I figured I’d get you guys to take a crack at The Adventures of Larson and Garrett.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also trying to get more exposure for my work, all of my titles. As a writer, and an indie writer, I don’t have the luxury of an entire corporation. I don’t have teams of people from numerous departments doing all the legwork for me, so like all indies, I came to you, a trusted team of people with the proper resources and connections.

I certainly hope that together we do succeed. People will really like seeing my stories the way I see them when I write them.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Absolutely. I wrote an entire book on how to become a successful writer. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ll be short with my answer, though.

Rule, the first: Do not deal with negative people. Anyone can find a nice way to tell a writer that they need to improve their work, and some constructive criticism should be accepted with an open mind, even if the writer chooses not to employ the advice. Only a jerk will try to make someone else feel bad for following a dream or accomplishing a goal. DO NOT DEAL WITH NEGATIVE PEOPLE, and that really goes for all aspects of life.

Rule, the second: Success does not come overnight. I don’t care who it is in question. George Martin didn’t succeed overnight; he worked tirelessly on A Song of Ice and Fire, and he didn’t see widespread success until Game of Thrones. Dude’s been at it a long, long time.

Even Justin Bieber, like him or not, he did not blow up overnight; his dad put up YouTube videos for years before he was discovered, and even then, he worked very hard to become successful. You gotta’ keep plugging away especially when you think it’s hopeless.

That goes right into rule, the third: The only way to fail is to stop trying, so don’t stop trying. Once you quit, it’s over. Don’t quit, but do listen to other people especially if you’re a writer. People are the ones who buy your books. If people don’t like your books then maybe you’re the problem, but it’s a problem you can remedy.

I certainly don’t like it when someone trashes my cherished work, but you know, everyone has their own world view, and I won’t get down on myself just because someone else doesn’t like what I like. On the other hand, if no one likes what I’m writing then I can always write for me. Then, of course, I hire an editor to help transform my work into a story for a broader audience.

I mean if Rowling, King, and Martin have teams of editors, who am I to declare that my stuff is perfect as is? Furthermore, the versions of Harry Potter, Dream Catcher, and A Song of Ice and Fire that everyone’s read and enjoyed are not the versions those authors wrote; they are the versions their publishers released after editing them to make them more palatable to more people, so writers, drop your egos; open your minds; keep plugging away.

You all have my support, and I have plenty of free articles talking about all this stuff on my website http://www.storiesbydennis.com. Just click on the editing and free resources tab.

For all of you writers out there struggling, or aspiring writers who are just mulling it over: just do it, yo! The last thing you want to do is add another regret to your life. Even failure is better than missing an opportunity; you can learn from failure.

Watch the Novel Transcript:

Performed by Danielle Nicole

BUY on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Larson-Garrett-Epic-First/dp/1731228902

A wicked daemon bestows great power on evil men in exchange for worship. An unlikely duo find friendship amidst war and chaos. Godly forces collide. Larson and Garrett are two simple, young men, yet they both have their own daemons. In the face of danger, of strife, they join forces and find friends among the elves, the dwarves, and the orcs. They find knowledge and faith among the Gods. Though an evil air has permeated the once great country of Ruvonia, the band of wizards and warriors join the cause of Prince Roan, for the Magickal Prince wishes only to vanquish that evil daemon called Lagos, that vicious daemon trying to gain enough worshipers to ascend as the new God of Destruction.

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Interview with Novelist Scott Meehan (DESERT ROCK)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your novel about?

Scott Meehan: In 2003, a female soldier approaches Major David Allan and gives him a crystal marble, telling him that he must keep it with him at all times. When he goes on Christmas Leave from Balad, Iraq, the C-5 Air Force jet is shot down in the wasteland of Iraq…and he is the only survivor.

After being in a three-month coma, David wakes up in a hospital bed at Walter Reed, his wife, Sherry, looking much younger than when he left for the war zone, at his side. Along with the television shows, news magazines, and general talk, David comes to realize that he is back in the year 1991.

History is on track just as David remembers it so he makes wiser decisions, but on the side, he takes on a fictitious name and bank account to gain wealth through investments and betting on Super Bowl and World Series winners at Vegas.
Life is flowing smoothly until he remembers that the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing is about to take place in 1995. Faced with the decision to save lives or change the course of history, David tries to warn the FBI without implicating himself of the upcoming disaster.

Later, when on a vacation in Aruba with Sherry, the mysterious girl appears with the crystal marble and gives it back to David…then walks out into the sea. When he tries to follow her, David discovers a new world as the unexpected takes hold of him in a reality beyond what is perceivable to his mind, body, and soul.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

Science Fiction / Fantasy / Time Travel

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Perceived reality

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Star Wars or Back to the Future (first ones).

5. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

“Time Waits for No One” – Rolling Stones

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

“Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara

7. What motivated you to write this story?

After retiring from my 25 years in the military, I thought back many times, “What if…?” to the many paths I did not take at the crossroads.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

Jesus Christ

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

My family, especially my grandchildren.

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

Broadened exposure.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

If you love writing, don’t ever quit. Write because you want to…write because you like to.

Watch the Novel Performance Reading: 

BUY on Amazon

 

Performed by Elizabeth Rose Morriss

In 2003, a female soldier approaches Major David Allan and gives him a crystal marble, telling him that he must keep it with him at all times. When he goes on Christmas Leave from Balad, Iraq, the C-5 Air Force jet is shot down in the wasteland of Iraq…and he is the only survivor.

Interview with Novelist Sharon Bennett Gandy (Catlips Incorporated)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your novel about?

Catlips Incorporated is about Argyle and Pap along with their friends met along the way, who join together to put a stop to the nip drug usage and the violent cat gangs who sell it.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

The genre is urban fantasy fiction (I think)

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Entertaining and enthralling

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

There are a few movies: John Carpenters, The Thing, Scarface, Goodfellas, Color Purple

5. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

Prince music-especially his less radio, public music. It’s the best!!

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

Stephen King’s It

7. What motivated you to write this story?

My cat (Pap in the story) got into a stashed away supply of catnip, I had put in the drawer. He had too much and his normally peaceful friendly attitude, turned much more aggressive under the catnip “high”. From that incident, the story formed in my mind and grew from there.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

It’s 2 people actually: Maya Angelou and Stephen King

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m also a real estate agent and passionate about buying and selling real estate.

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

I hope to get Catlips on audio file so this seemed like a good first step

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Above all else, keep writing. We all bring something to this table we call life, so don’t deny your gift and share it with the world. 🙂
Check out my new fiction novel Catlips Incorporated
http://www.catlipsbook.com

Watch the Novel Transcript Reading: 

BUY on Amazon

 

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Performed by Elizabeth Rose Morriss

Catlips Incorporated exemplifies the strength of friendship, perseverance and the unwavering sheer determination and courage to stand proud and do the right thing, despite the odds.

Though the feline and canine characters may be a bit unconventional for some, their struggles against the undesirables within their community is a familiar scenario to many.