Thursday, October 2, 2008

October '08: David Dean Bottrell

New feature.

Once a month I will interview an author or playwright, or screen writer and have them talk about their journey as a writer. So, it is my pleasure to introduce David Dean Bottrell

1. What is the most challenging thing facing writers today?
I don't think the plight of writers has really changed that much over time. The question is what to write and what form to write it in. You have stay in tuned in to the world around you. Writing is always a response to lives we are all collectively living.

2. Where do you find your inspiration to write?
Funny, but I don't put much stock in inspiration anymore. It's great to feel excited about what you're writing, but unfortunately that feeling can evaporate in a milisecond. The greatest trick I ever learned was to keep writing after that initial excitement disappears. I try to trust my imagination as much as possible. I try to be ready to act on ideas that excite me. I also have to trust that something that I find engaging, funny or interesting will find an audience. Writing isn't for everybody. It's hard to start. It's hard to continue. It's hard to finish. I guess that sounds a little grim, but there's a strange reward that comes along with writing that's hard to describe. It somehow makes you want to try again.

3. What current projects are you working on?
I'm writing my first ever TV pilot. It's exciting and scary. Although I've acted on TV, I've never written for it. All my screenwriting experience has been for films which is a very different beast. At least I'm learning something new. I always like that. I just finished writing a book proposal based on my blog and there seems to be some interest in it. So that's exciting.

4. Who are some of your favorite writers?
There are so many. In the screenwriting world -- William Goldman, Scott Frank, Steve Zallian, Alan Ball, Charlie Kaufman, Pedro Almodóvar, Larry McMurty, Billy Wilder and Horton Foote. When it comes to fiction, I'm always amazed by writers who can bridge genres -- Especially those who can weave fantastical elements into their stories. I wish I had the breadth of imagination to pull that off.

5. What's your favorite genre and/or medium to write in?
I guess I'd have to say screenwriting since it's the medium that I have the most experience in. It's challenging and incredibly difficult. There are so many rules and you have to corral all your big ideas and distill them down until they can pass throught the eye of a needle. When I started writing my blog I was thrilled to have a place to stretch out a little as a writer. It's great to have a forum to tell all my show business stories. God knows I've got enough of them. I'm so excited that the blog has found an audience.

6. What is your ideal writing sanctuary?
I'm not sure I have one. I used to be intensely private and needed a lot of solitude to get anything done. But these days, I'm fairly flexible. Last summer, I wrote an entire screenplay in a local coffee shop and it was a terrific experience. I do what I can to make writing fun. If I'm feeling giddy, I might camp out in some joint with cool music and a lot of human traffic. If I'm feeling vulnerable, I'm more likely to take refuge in my home office. Someday, I'd like to go rent a cottage somewhere and write in some gorgeous, bucolic location. Hasn't happened yet, but maybe someday.

7. Do you feel that being an actor influences your writing?
Absolutely. By the time I started writing, I'd already been a working actor for over 11 years. My early scripts were technically a mess but all that performing had definitely given me a voice as a writer. It still helps me a lot with dialogue. All I have to do is read a scene out loud and I usually get a sense if it will work.

8. As of right now, what are you most proud of with your writing?
I adapted a book last year called "How to Cook Your Daughter." It's memoir by Jessica Hendra about her very troubled relationship with her father who molested her when she was a kid. When it was first sent to me, I thought it was too dark to succeed on screen. And then I had a small brainstorm about how the story could be told. Fortunately, Jessica was willing to let me take her book, put it in a blender and reinvent it while keeping the essential truth of her story in tact. The resulting final script is probably the best thing I've ever written. I'm hugely proud of it. It's out to talent right now, so hopes are running high. I guess when I boil it down, I'm most proud that I'm still a writer after all these years. I'm grateful that it has continued to evolve and grow. It still fits me.

You can check him out here at:

David as Lincoln Meyer on the set of Boston Legal

No comments: