An Interview with Derek Frey

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The World of Tim Burton, Mexico City. Photo by Leah Gallo.

Derek Frey is best known for his work with Tim Burton on such films as Big Fish, Mars Attacks!, Sleepy Hollow, Planet of the Apes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Alice in Wonderland, Frankenweenie, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Dark Shadows, Big Eyes, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. He has worked at the helm of Tim Burton Productions since 2001 as well as running his own film banner Lazer Film Productions, which has created several award-winning films, most notably The Ballad of Sandeep and Green Lake. His most recent endeavor finds him producing the upcoming live-action Dumbo film for Disney. Slated for 2019 the film features Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Danny DeVito, and Michael Keaton.

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Poster Design by Matt Saunders.

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Green Lake behind the scenes. Photo by Leah Gallo.

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The Green Lake Mo’o. Photo by Leah Gallo.

How has life changed most for you since we spoke last (while you were working on Big Eyes)?

Daily life hasn’t changed all that much. I continue to challenge myself and stay busy. I’m now a father to a three-year-old, so that’s a fairly new addition to my life. I view my life from project to project, so after Big Eyes I executive produced Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and am currently in post production on Dumbo. Tim’s art exhibition The World of Tim Burton continues to tour, which is always exciting to help put together and visit the different cities in support of his work. It just finished its run in Mexico City and will be in Genk, Belgium later this year.

On the personal side, I’ve made a few more films and music videos since then. I think right after Big Eyes I was deep into Green Lake, which was released in 2016. With Green Lake, I was inspired by my lifelong love for B-horror films, and also the mystical setting in Hawaii really spoke to me. I’ve explored B horror before but not quite on that scale. It was a tremendous amount of work, but I was really pleased with the result and surprised it received the recognition that it did.

Last year I directed the music video God Came ‘Round for a band from the Big Island of Hawaii: Professor T and the Eastside Shredders. When I first heard their new album the track really stood out to me. It has a lot of fantastical and paranormal elements in its lyrics by Trever Veilleux and immediately Deep Roy came to mind for the lead character. Luckily enough, Deep was coming to London and I pitched the idea to him. After that the whole project came together very quickly. Deep got to play a myriad of different roles with many costume changes and it’s been a success on the festival circuit. It was great to reunite with Deep. I’ve worked with him on a number of Tim’s films tracing back to Planet of the Apes, Corpse Bride and Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and then I had the opportunity to direct him in The Ballad of Sandeep. Working with him again was a great pleasure. He’s always game for whatever we throw at him… literally.

I’ve also continued to work with my friends and collaborators the Minor Prophets, with Motel Providence and Kill the Engine. I’m perpetually inspired by their writing which has been described as commentary on 21st century man. Poking fun and putting a spin on the meaning of manhood and the ridiculous things men do to sustain it. I try not to take anything too seriously and can relate to that.

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Poster design by Giulia Rivolta.

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Derek & Deep Roy on the set of God Came ‘Round. Photo by Leah Gallo.

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Deep Roy in God Came ‘Round. Photo by Leah Gallo.

How has becoming a father changed your outlook on the world and life in general? What do you love most about it?

I’d say you definitely reflect more on your own life. Seeing life through my son’s eyes, I look back and recall things from when I was young. We share a great appreciation for Godzilla movies. He knows the names of all the characters, whether they are “good guys” or “bad guys’, and he’s assembling quite a collection of vinyl figures. We have good vs. bad Toho-Kaiju smackdowns. He usually prefers the bad guys, I think because in the vast Toho universe, the good guys are unfortunately outnumbered.

Becoming a father hasn’t really change my outlook. I’ve always had a concern for the state of the world and unfortunately the times we’re living in only heighten that concern. Not only for today and tomorrow, but also the world we’re leaving for the future generations. That’s definitely something I think about more now and feel like the stakes are higher. Obviously past generations dealt with their own world threats, and personally I hoped our civilization had evolved to a point where we wouldn’t be dealing with quite as many issues. But with all the active threats and destabilizing forces at work today – the combination seems to make the future a more perilous uncertainty.

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Derek & son on location for Miss Peregrine’s. Photo by Leah Gallo.

Do you think being a parent encourages adults to revisit their own imagination?

It absolutely does, and more so it encourages me to channel it in different ways. One of the things my son enjoys most in our time together is telling stories. Each night I’m having to think up two or three thrilling tales, and while they’re not the most inventive he seems impressed by them. Ultimately what it does is allows me to revisit the things that inspired me. As I dig into the mental recesses to come up with all these sagas, I end up sharing with him the things that I was inspired by as a child.

What are you currently working on over at Lazer Film Productions?

I’m currently editing a music video, Pangea, that I filmed earlier this year in Hawaii for Professor T and the East Side Shredders. Like the title suggests we aimed to create something globally epic and I think it’s going to turn out great. I’m slowly making my way through the editing process but hope to have it finished in another month or two. I’m also developing a feature film with the Minor Prophets. We’ve had success with a number of short films over the years and are now moving forward with Awkward Endeavors which we’re planning to shoot next year.

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Filming Pangea in Hilo, Hawaii. Photo by Valery Richardson.

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On the set of Pangea. Photo by RaVani Flood.

What is the most challenging thing you face in continuing work on your personal projects and working at the helm of Tim Burton Productions?

When it comes to my projects with LFP, the greatest challenge is really finding the time. I usually find myself filming over breaks and holidays and the editing process takes a bit longer than usual. It’s always a cathartic experience but really that is the biggest challenge, just finding the time to do my own stuff. The flip side of that is because I’m involved with these projects on every level, I also have the freedom to finish on my own schedule. It’s a great thing to work without any outside pressures and to have complete control over something you call your own.

At Tim Burton Productions things are never idle. The projects are larger so the stakes are higher with many gears at work. One of my main responsibilities as a producer on Tim’s films is to help him carry out his amazing vision. It keeps me on my toes but is a welcome challenge to help him see that vision through, from development all the way to the release, through every stage of a film.

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Tim Burton conducts Dumbo. Photo by Leah Gallo.© Disney

How is the live action version of Dumbo coming along? What are some of the most daunting challenges faced with bringing Dumbo to life outside of the original animation people are familiar with?

Dumbo is going extremely well. We filmed last year and it’s a production I’m proud to be a part of. We’re in post-production now and eyeing a March of 2019 release. Every one of Tim’s films is unique and demands its own consideration. On this one, the approach was very much filming a practical movie on a grand yet intimate scale. We built the majority of the sets which enabled the cast to perform within real environments. The technology comes into play with the star of the film, Dumbo, and much of the effort in post-production is animating that character. A big goal for the character is maintaining the emotion that people love from the original film. It’s still early stages in the process but I’m confident that Tim will achieve everything he is hoping to.

Were you a fan of the film as a child? What about it stands out most in your mind?

I went to the movies often when I was a child and although I was really young, maybe four or five, I remember seeing Dumbo in the theatre. I recall feeling strong emotions, the heaviness of Dumbo being separated from his mother, and that melancholy sadness. I probably didn’t see it again until recently, when we began work on Tim’s Dumbo. I was completely taken by how potent the film is. Even at sixty-four minutes it is full of emotion and a beautiful, simple story. The impact it has is something that not only a child can experience. I think as an adult, and maybe as a new dad, I felt those feelings quite strongly again.

I also felt excitement at the prospect of Tim telling Dumbo’s story. The cornerstone being to maintain the same emotional bond between a son and his mother. Now, close to eighty years since the original was released, technology is at a point where you can believably recreate an elephant on-screen, and Tim’s expertise in animation will bring that lovable character to life. When the news first broke that Tim was directing a live-action Dumbo, people were sort of unsure about it and scratching their heads. But for me reading the screenplay for the new film, I realized that Dumbo is an outsider and an outcast. People accuse him of being a freak and he moves past those perceptions to embrace what makes him special. If you look back at Tim’s catalogue he’s a champion for these types of characters. And looking through the Disney canon of characters, I don’t think there’s a better fit for Tim to interpret than Dumbo.

Do you think traditional animated film will ever come back to forefront? 

Film is a broad art form, and there is room for stories to be told in every single form available. There may not be many films being made in traditional 2D, but there is still a place for it and I hope there will always be. It’s the same with stop motion. I know for Tim it’s a very special way of making films and he’ll continue to utilize that form. I don’t think traditional animation is dead, these things come and go. There is always interest in looking back at different storytelling mechanisms. Maybe we’re just in a lull now and we’ll see a wave of 2D crop up in a few years. Let’s hope so!

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© Twentieth Century Fox.

Will this film feature a lot of CGI or will it have more practical effects?

When Tim made Alice in Wonderland it was a virtual approach with completely green screen sets and a lot of computer-animated characters. Then fast forward to something like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which took a very practical approach, real locations and not a lot of CG at all. I think when things look so good these days people just assume that it’s a computer-generated set or environment. But Miss P was very much a practical film. I would say Dumbo sits somewhere between the two, but definitely closer to a practical approach. The sets and the world that the characters live in were all built and created, and although we did shoot on sound stages, that was mainly for the sake of controlling the light and not running into problems with weather. Dumbo needed to have a fable or storybook feel and shooting on stages helped create a heightened sense to the world.

As I spoke about before, the main character Dumbo will be computer-generated, and that is out of basic necessity. We can’t use a real elephant, nor would you be able to get the needed performance out of a real elephant. So, while Dumbo will be animated the goal is to create a truly believable elephant. An elephant who sits within this world and you don’t question it. The fantastic ability of this elephant is that he can fly, so it’s about making that believable too.

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Ella Purnell, Asa Butterfield & Derek Frey on the set of Miss Peregrine’s. Photo by Leah Gallo. ©Twentieth Century Fox

I understand this is the first time Michael Keaton has worked with Tim since the first two Batman films and DeVito since Big Fish. What is it like to have them on board for this project?

I was really excited for Tim to be working with Michael and Danny, two people that he’s had close collaborations with in the past, and I know it got him excited about the project as well. My initial thought was: Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, and Danny DeVito together… it’s like a Batman Returns reunion! But then seeing them get into their work with Tim, they have an instant shorthand on set, you realize this is not just a trip down memory lane. These guys are looking forward, creating exciting new characters, and working at the top of their game. I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people. It was quite an energy on set.

Aside from Michael and Danny you have Eva Green, who Tim worked with on Dark Shadows and Miss P, who is going to light up the screen in this one. And Alan Arkin who worked with him back on Edward Scissorhands. It’s almost like a greatest hits package of these wonderful actors that Tim has worked with in the past. I remember in one of the scenes we had Michael, Danny, and Alan all together. It was an incredible moment for everybody, myself included, to see them together again with Tim. At the same time, you have the talented Colin Farrell, who is an amazing and generous presence on set, working with Tim for the first time. They gelled immediately, and their shorthand was instantaneous. To see all of this talent assembled and fitting comfortably was a joy.

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Derek Frey & Tim Burton on the set of Miss Peregrine’s. Photo by Leah Gallo.                                    © Twentieth Century Fox

What do you enjoy most about working with Tim?

After all these years and all these projects, it’s still an honor to work with him. He continues to inspire everyone around him, because he’s always pushing his own creativity. While he does work with the same people from film to film I wouldn’t say it’s ever easy or repetitious, it’s always a fresh experience. You can never guess what he’s going to do that day on set or how he’s going to approach things, he will always surprise you. And that’s what makes Tim the real deal and why he is who he is. I feel that every day working for him. As a creative person you find yourself inspired by other creative people, and he’s the most creative person I’ve ever met.

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Poster design by Holly Kempf.

As someone who is a self proclaimed introvert what have you found are some of the benefits of being less social? What do you think extroverts could learn from the less socially inclined?

I think over the years I’ve had to break out of my introverted behavior, because it’s important in my work to be an effective communicator. That is not to say that being introverted is a bad thing, it’s just for what I need to do, I can’t be like that all the time. But I will say that some of my most fruitfully creative periods were times when I could sink back into myself and explore my own brain. That’s one of the challenges of my job. Because I have to communicate with people constantly it leaves little time to do that. So, although I have broken out a bit (which I think is a good thing for me personally) I pine for my more introverted days. There are benefits of going inside yourself, becoming self-aware and nurturing your creativity. I think ideally you can find the best of both worlds.

How have you changed most as an individual since your early days?

You think about that more as you get older, about how you’ve changed or how you were in the past. I hear people say they feel different from when they were younger. But the fact is I feel very much the same. I’ve often wondered whether something was wrong with me that I don’t feel much different? I’ve always been a high energy person, so maybe I have mellowed out a little bit. I’m probably still more hyper than anyone else I know, except for my son. If anything, I am shocked at how much time has gone by, I find myself trying to make the most of every moment. I guess that’s an important thing that I didn’t think about when I was younger, trying to take advantage of every moment here for the best.

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Poster design by Holly Kempf.

What projects are you looking forward to bringing into existence?

Aside from Awkward Endeavors, I’ve been developing a project called Quiet Fire. It tells the musical relationship between Miles Davis and pianist Bill Evans, and the recording of the album Kind of Blue. That’s something I’m very excited to see happen. It’s a story about the creative process, but it also covers themes about race and substance abuse so there’s lots to chew on. It gives new insight into Kind of Blue which is considered by many to be the greatest jazz album of all time. For Tim Burton Productions, I’m developing an anthology of shorts based on characters from his 1997 book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories. We’re looking to re-tell the stories using stop motion, which would be visually distinct and something for fans to get excited about.

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Derek & the Minor Prophets on the set of Kill The Engine. Photo by Brian E. Smith.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

Thank you again for the opportunity. It’s been a pleasure to take some time out of the daily grind to reflect upon the past four years.

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An Interview with Richard Ryan

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As an actor who has graced the screen in both film and television, Richard Ryan has worked tirelessly to perfect his craft. By the age of 23 his interest in various areas of film had led him to form the production company Ox Films. His latest project, the action film Art of Deception, currently in development, features Jackie Nova and Amsterdam actor Leon van Waas, and of course Richard Ryan as the male lead playing Joseph Markham.

What was it like to attend a high school that was art driven? Do you think today’s schools should place more emphasis on the arts?

I found it very fun and cool going to Sacramento Waldorf for two years while in high school, a school focused primarily on the arts. I really appreciate the influence it had on my life. The curriculum included dance, choir, theater, gardening, and many other options for arts. The school’s campus was like an oasis for artistic exploration and discovery. I took my first theater class, focused on William Shakespeare, while attending Sacramento Waldorf. I loved it! I performed a duo in front of the school, and one of my teachers came up to me and said, “This is what you need to do!” I continued with acting through high school and college, then I moved to Los Angeles to pursue it professionally.

I absolutely believe that there should be a strong focus on arts in every school from K–12. There should be at least one mandatory art class and exercise class every day. As primal beings, we are made to create and be active. We all need to learn a healthy way to express ourselves through art and movement that will be good for our mind, body and soul. We need to be teaching children that art is a spectacular and beautiful thing, and it should never be discouraged, which happens a lot. In my opinion a lot of people turn to illegal and legal drugs, alcohol and violence because they don’t know how to express themselves properly or comfortably. If you are hyper or angry or whatever emotion you are feeling, create and/or move your body! We all have emotions and we all want to express ourselves. If the fundamentals of art and movement are taught and experienced more at a young age, there would be even more advancement and far less violence!

What was it about the art of acting that drew you to it most?

I feel like being able to express myself as different characters and tapping into different parts of my mind and living out my imagination, emotions and experiences, and having it captured on camera or in front of an audience is wonderful. Being a part of the process with other passionate and professional artists and being able to learn from them is exhilarating.

Who were some of your influences?

My family has always been a great influence on me. Some influences from the film industry have been Quentin Tarantino, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Sean Penn and my acting teacher and coach, Aaron Speiser.

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What led you to form Ox Films?

I made my first three short films and realized that perhaps I should start a company since I really enjoyed the process, and I felt like it was something I wanted to continue to do. I felt like creating a brand or a name, and marketing all of my works through that entity was a smart decision, so I just went with it.

What is the most challenging thing you face in running your own production company?

I started something with high hopes, big talk and big moves, and people are very aware of them, so the challenge is to back it up. I feel like I have to learn everything and all things fall on my shoulders. My motivation and my family, friends and everyone who has ever been involved and wants to see me deliver are strong motivations for me. It’s a nice challenge.

What advice would you offer others wishing to do the same?

My advice is to educate yourself about the film making process and the film industry and learn as much as you can from others, from literally all the departments and all aspects of the process. Write and be a great writer. Just get out there and make a movie even if it’s zero budget and learn and grow a team. Do not overlook any aspect, and you need to be in charge of the workflow and have final say. Be smart about who you choose to work with, always have a good attitude, and be humble and respectful. Never think you are bigger than the process because you aren’t, and if you think you are, then your results will suffer, progress will be stunted and bad things will happen. Leave your ego at home, but be confident in the decisions you make, trust your instinct and vision. Be strategic and smart, lay out a solid plan, then execute the plan. As your education, knowledge of the film making process and industry grow, your movies will get bigger and better. Then the creativity and motivation to get your projects seen will grow, increasing your potential to make money. One more thing: when it comes to making a movie, do not rush any step of the process, for will be costly. Let it flow in a nice steady, thoughtful and efficient pace and make smart, planned out decisions.

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How does it feel to have the freedom to bring your own creative visions to life on film?

It feels incredible, and it feels amazing that other experts are involved in helping me to see my vision come to life. Finding others who are passionate about that and putting all of their experience and energies into making my vision come to life is ridiculously amazing. Introducing my vision to others, and them making it their vision, and being on the same page with this incredible creative chemistry feels like flying. I don’t for one second take it for granted and am highly appreciative of it, and I am forever humbled. Having it flow leaves me with butterflies and a rush when it happens. The process of collaboration such as this is borderline magical to me and even seems like an out-of-body experience at times.

What was it like to have produced and directed sixteen films by the age of 27?

It feels like a nice accomplishment with a lot of work and effort being put into making these movies. However, the work and effort needs to pay off in the way I intend it, which is for my movies to be seen world-wide.

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How do you think your experience in those areas has most helped you hone your skills as an actor?

I feel like the path of going behind the scenes, making movies gives me great life experience and life skills that I can translate to as an actor. As an actor I understand the perspective on the process from all of the other departments, so while acting, I can help achieve the best result for the movie. As an actor, I have my job and bring my creative aspect to the medium, but it’s important to know how and why to do different things. A casting director has a perspective and certain reasoning for what he or she asks for, as well as the director, the sound department, the cinematographer, hair and make up department, the lighting crew, production management dealing with time, budgets and finances, transportation department, etc. The theory and understanding of why and how things are done and respecting the decisions will achieve growth in your craft as an actor and longevity in your career. Being mindful, respectful and aware of the process is imperative to being a great actor. Production management wants an actor to be on time and be prepared so it won’t cost the company extra money. The director wants you to follow his or her direction and the script and live in the moment and create believable behavior. The cinematographer wants the actor to live within a specific space. Working in each department has taught me the psychology and theory behind certain aspects and to be mindful of the whole process. I bring that knowledge to the table as an actor. It really helps.

Do you enjoy one more than the other or do you love all aspects of creating film equally?

I enjoy acting the most, then directing and producing.

Can you tell us a little more about Art of Deception? What can we expect from this one? Where can our readers go to find out more about the project?

Art of Deception is an action suspense thriller that involves a fight for world dominance and a fight for love. The CIA creates a nano chip and a virus to obtain complete mind control over the human population. Scientist Joseph Markham overhears the evil plans, which prompts him to make a move and fights for his life as many CIA agents come after him. Joseph Markham has to think quick and is ultimately left with the decision to save the life of his wife or the lives of billions.

We expect Art of Deception to be in select theaters starting in June 2018 then after that be available for purchase in other various platforms worldwide. To get more information, go to www.oxfilms.us.

What do you enjoy most about creating action films?

Whatever the genre is I very much enjoy it. However, action sequences bring a great deal of energy and a rush of a feeling, which is exuberant. Action sequences are challenging and fun and seeing the scenes come together is very rewarding. There is a beautiful aspect of strength, power, emotion, movement, and physicality, which can be put to great use during these types of scenes.

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What is it like to work alongside your partner Jackie Nova? Do you find it helps to have someone to share your artistic vision with?

Being able to work with my sweet heart Jackie Nova is very cool. She offers a lot of great ideas and fresh perspectives on things, and she has a strong work ethic. I like to get her opinion a lot on certain aspects of the process, so I don’t just see it my way. Her perspective is very accessible for me, and I value that a lot. I am able to trust her perspective, and that she has good intentions behind her input, which is nice. It’s very important to have a smart team around you, for it will only make the result even better.

You also brought Amsterdam actor Leon van Waas on board for this project.  What was it about his abilities as an actor that first sparked your interest?

I met Leon through Facebook about a year before we shot Art of Deception. He reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be in his movie. Then I asked him a few weeks later to be in my movie, which turned out to be Art of Deception. At the time when I asked him to be a part of my next movie I had no idea what that movie would be; however, I knew he had to be a part of it. When I looked at Leon’s Youtube videos and pictures on Facebook, he appeared to be a true artist who was very passionate about acting, music and art in general. I thought he had a very classic Hollywood type of look, and his abilities as an actor were great! He looked like he could tap very deeply into his emotions and passion just like me, and it seemed like it would be a good showdown between us, playing opposite each other on screen. So we made it happen. Finding people who are passionate about the craft is important because they will go the extra mile and do what it takes to get the job done and achieve the best results.

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Do you have an interesting story from the set that you’d care to share?

There are actually two stories that I would like to talk about. I will try to be as brief as possible. We shot the dream sequence in the snow and on the lake, both locations being in South Lake Tahoe. I had previously envisioned that scene a couple of years previously with the exact locations and musical score in mind. I saw the meadow full of fresh powder snow, bright blue skies, sun shining, and warm weather. When we traveled to Tahoe to shoot that’s exactly what we got after a two week storm. We got all the shots after hiking and shooting in the snow all of the first day. The very next day we shot the end of the first sequence with a storm picking up, and another storm warning coming in. That worked perfectly for the scene. Jackie and the crew and I then took a thirty minute ride on the very narrow road around the lake as the storm grew ever more fierce by the second. All we heard on the radio was a storm warning. The only thing on my mind was to get the shots and what perfect weather it was for this portion of the scene just as I imagined. Our three cars finally parked at the location, and we had no time to spare as the skies were getting greyer and the mist was getting heavier, turning into rain. The camera operator and I got out there on the dock and had a blast! I had my shot list in my pocket which consisted of twenty shots, and we just raced through each one very quickly, trying to finish ahead of the change in the weather and got them all in about an hour and a half. Mission accomplished! Our footage worked great when we later edited the two dream sequences.

Here’s the second story. It was summertime with a 7:00 am call time as our crew slept on location at the scene where we shot my brother’s house. We wrapped up there by 1:00 pm then drove an hour and a half to Lake Tahoe and rented a boat and shot in the boat from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. We then packed and drove back down the hill in an hour and a half, all ate barbeque that my dad made at his house. The whole crew then drove to where we shot the boxing scene with Jackie and I, in my home town of El Dorado Hills and were there from 8:00 to about 11:30 pm. After the scene we packed all of the equipment into our Budget rental truck, then Jackie and I and the rest of the crew drove back down to Los Angeles and made it there by 8:00 am. The crew went their separate ways as Jackie and I dropped off the camera equipment to our vendors, drove to another place to drop off lighting equipment, then returned our Budget truck and got home at 11:00 am. That was one of our classic 28 hour days. We had been shooting for four straight days and got all of our shots. We shot about eight days in my home town, and it was amazing shooting there. It was wonderful being able to see family and friends while shooting. We shut down the town center while we were doing our motorcycle scene and everyone was watching. It was very intense and super fun.

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Is there anything else you’d like to add?

If you have a vision and a desire to achieve a goal, go after it with full force and let no one and nothing stop you. Be honest with yourself and others in your pursuit so you can get the best results. Never get discouraged, nor listen to others discouraging words, but only let their opinions and thoughts make you a better person and gain clarity on your goals and vision. Work well with others and respect other people’s perspectives, being successful is a team sport. Everyone is one decision away from being a millionaire or going to zero, so be smart and make wise decisions.

I feel like Art of Deception is more than a good story on screen. Jackie Nova and I put it all on the line to make our movie a success. We showcase a strong, powerful and talented female with Dominican descent as the female star and producer of Art of Deception, Jackie Nova. I am very proud about that. We also have an international multi cultural cast and crew. Our lead bad guy, Leon Van Waas, lives in Amsterdam, our composer lives in Italy, and we have several Visual Effects Artists who live in India, Egypt and Persia. Art of Deception is a story-driven action suspense thriller that involves a fight for love and world dominance that has a subject of government conspiracy, which a lot of people are fascinated with. Jackie Nova and I, along with the rest of the Art of Deception team hope that you join us to continue our journey together. Thank you to my family and friends for all the help and support, and those who ever believed in me and stayed in my corner. I am truly blessed to have an incredible and smart family that values and believes in what I do, who inspires me, and is always there for support and encouragement. I am also blessed to have inspirational and true friends that show support and encouragement. Thank you for reading.

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An Interview with Jackie Nova

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Jackie Nova is best known for her appearance on the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris and the upcoming action film Art of Deception(Ox Films).

What was it that first sparked your interest in the world of entertainment and acting?

I am an American Dominican Latina born in NYC, raised in NJ. I’ve been a part of Performing School of Arts since I was in grade school, and I have always been a part of dance, theatre and music. Since I was a little girl I always knew that acting, dancing & singing was my destiny. What surely sparked my interest was this aha moment when my parents took me to see my aunt “Belkis Concepción- Las Chicas del Can” perform with her band and she pulled me up on stage to perform with them, from that moment. that spark, I knew I was an entertainer. Everyone was going wild over how I sang and danced- the feeling was exhilarating which is how I feel whenever I’m on set as an actress- when I perform on stage singing and dancing. While I was attending high school, I was also in Performing School of Arts during the afternoon hours where professors there pushed me to work hard and taught me that quitting is not an option. I have played the roles of Mimi as an understudy for the Broadway musical Rent. The first producer I ever auditioned for was Mr. Bill Cosby, and I was a kid, and he was nice to me. He picked me and another girl from our Performing School of Arts. Cosby said, “She’s got it.”

I was excited to have co starred on Everybody Hates Chris opposite Terry Crews and also co starred on the show Insecure. I’m also a comedian and I’ve done stand-up comedy at the Haha Café, Comedy store, Improve with Groundlings and LA Connections. I’ve worked with Dane Cook, Jamie Foxx and Andrew Dice Clay. I’ve done lots of national commercial spots in Spanish and a few in English. For the past four years, Richard Ryan and I have heavily focused on finishing our movie Art of Deception, which has put a stop on any other projects. My passion is in film, preferably where you can travel all over to shoot with incredible actors/filmmakers. I love the art of acting and becoming different characters on television and commercials as well. I’m big on athletics and I excel in gymnastics, baseball, flag football, Ice skating and rollerblading. I’m all about my family and they are number one for me. My profession and my passion is being an actor/dancer/singer in movies and television.

What do you find most challenging about working in front of the camera? Do you ever feel self conscious?

I never found anything to be challenging and I never felt self- conscious in front of the camera. Perhaps when the director calls action, I’m so deep into my character and I never notice any cameras. That’s how deep and lost into the scene I am.

Mr. & Mrs Markham PROMO

What advice would you offer other females of all ages in regards to self image?

My advice about self-image is to love yourself just the way you are. I say this in all sincerity. Be you because you’re unique and special, no matter what age or size or color or shape. Let’s just say you aren’t happy with your body, well then work out hard and put the work in. Do not take the route of plastic surgery. Love who you see in the mirror and tell yourself, “I am beautiful, and thank you for making me so extraordinary”. Just love YOU! Go to a spa and get pampered if you’re feeling blue and work out because that takes away any icky feelings.

Who do you consider to be some of the most talented actresses past and present? Why?

Who inspires me as an actress are actors who move me such as:

Lucille Ball my mentor icon comedian

Katherine Hepburn, who is an icon, and I feel that I’m feisty with conviction much like her.

Frances McDormand is powerful and I admire her qualities.

Jodie Foster is admirable and I love her qualities as well.

Hillary Swank is intense and I enjoy her performances.

Reese Witherspoon is well rounded and playful, which I love.

Rita Moreno (West Side Story) musical queen and I love her.

Natalie Wood (West Side Story) also a musical queen whom I love.

All of these women I’ve mentioned have had an impact on me. I admire all of them as artists, and I strive as an artist to enlighten others just as these women have enlightened others.

V Markham PROMO

What are your thoughts on the current state of the film industry? Do you think the recent events and controversies will lead to an overall more positive working environment for actors and actress of the future?

My thoughts on the current state of the film industry is that the decision makers are not as opened minded as they used to be in the past, which has made it harder for us as actors and filmmakers to break through. I do understand that for these studios, it’s all about the status quo and making the most money possible. But let’s not forget how important it is to let the artists shine and allow for new opportunities to break through. Seeing new talent on screen is very cool and audiences enjoy that. It would be nice to allow more fresh faces on the scene and to allow even more opportunities. However, it’s unfortunate that most studio heads want name actors, and even the film festivals are starting to follow the same path, not all but unfortunately, most are. Studio heads and film festivals used to want to give newcomers a shot and help artists out, but that has changed. Richard and I want to make a difference once we make names for ourselves and our movie reaches the masses, we want to help other unknown artists make their dreams come true.


I do think that with the recent outbreak of “Enough is Enough” and “Stand Up” and “Stand Together” and “No More Silence,” changes will happen, especially for us women. We hopefully won’t have to continue to endure the lack of opportunities and mayhem. I have my own stories about this and this this subject, and this is why I know most women have kept silent, as women are scared of jeopardizing their careers, but with this idea of “no more silence” we can grow stronger and less of this disgusting behavior will occur.

What would you say is the most important thing to learn in your line of work?

The most important thing to learn in my line of work as an actor is to be an impeccable listener, love to read and be open-minded.

A lot of your roles stem from your work at Ox Films. What is it like to work there?

I love working with my soul mate Richard Ryan, who is the founder of Ox Films, which is why we will always work together on more projects to come. We also will be working on other projects as well which is fundamental to our future as artists. Working with Ox Films is fun, invigorating, there is lots of talent, and plenty of knowledge to gain on a daily basis. Always new adventures pop up.

Do you have a dream role you’d most like to bring into existence?

Richard made my dream role come true because he definitely allowed me to shine as a powerful, strong and action-packed leading lady for Art of Deception.  For future projects this is the track I’d like to stay on as leading lady, the powerful, ninja, action hero and bad ass roles, take charge type of character, which is a lot like who I am.

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What did you enjoy most about working on that particular film?

What I enjoyed the most about working on our movie Art of Deception was the production phase, shooting on set, especially while doing my scenes because transforming into my character gives me pleasure and brings me joy. I love the gift of giving the audience an experience while they watch our movie, but also being in charge as a producer and behind the scenes is fulfilling and exciting!

What was it like to work alongside the rest of the cast?

It was amazing, effortless, always a learning experience, and it was a transcending experience working alongside our incredibly talented cast and seasoned professional crew.

What do you enjoy most about having the chance to work in action film?

My favorite genres are action, comedy, and thriller, so working on our action suspense thriller, Art of Deception was a treat and a delight every step of the way, no matter what challenges arose.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

“Never give up and follow your dreams” is what I was taught my whole life, without this you will always wonder.

AOD Promo 2

An Interview with Jim Davis

JD2

Photo courtesy of M Magazine, The Star Press.

Forty years ago the artistically creative mind of Jim Davis brought the world the ever fun feline Garfield. His comic strips have been delighting readers of all ages ever since. In celebration of forty years of light hearted fun and fantasy we offer up this interview to our readers.

Can you tell us what it was like growing up on the farm in Fairmount, Indiana? What did you enjoy most about your time there? How do you think coming from there has influenced you to be who you are today?

I had a charmed childhood. There was a pond for fishing and swimming, trees to climb, and plenty of cows for tipping. It was hard work too. Mom and Dad raised  milch chows. I started doing regular chores on the farm by the time I was 10. In fact, my brother and I couldn’t wait to be old enough to help Dad in the barn. My dad was a hard worker and he taught me the important life lessons: Work hard, be honest, take care of your family. If Dad said, “Take two or three bales of hay to the barn”, he meant “four”. The manure from the barns was spread on the fields, and, after rotary hoeing, we weeded the corn rows by hand. My dad was  the first  farmer  in the county to get over 100 bushels of corn per acre. Those are the values of the people who live in the Midwest and it makes me very proud to say I am from this area.

Is the farm in your strip influenced by there? I’ve always wondered, when Jon goes back to the farm is he actually going back to Fairmount or is the farm in Garfield located elsewhere?

Yes, Id say the farm in the comic strip is heavily influenced by where I grew up. As they say, write about what you know.

Your mother played a major role in your becoming the artist you are today. What was she like as a person? Did she ever get angry when you drew on the bottom of the kitchen table or the walls? Are you glad she encouraged you to develop your drawing skills?

Mom was about the sweetest person ever. I loved trying to make her laugh and she was an easy mark. I dont recall ever getting scolded for drawing under the kitchen table — probably because she didnt find the drawing until many years later when it was too late to take me to task. I have to give my mom credit for my drawing skills. She was pretty talented herself and having her encourage me and admire my drawings had a huge impact on me. She and Dad were both hard workers.

JD

Did you ever have Adeline Nall as your teacher there? What was she like as a person? What do you think was the most important thing she taught you?

Yes, I was fortunate enough to have Adeline as a speech teacher. She was vibrant, flamboyant, and fun!

Growing up were you a fan of James Dean yourself? Why do you think his appeal is so timeless?

In Fairmount, youre born a James Dean fan. I think its imprinted on your DNA. I was just 10 years old when he died so I discovered his films a bit later in life. He was the epitome of the cool and disaffected youth and we love our rebels, dont we? I think his timeless appeal is in part due to the mystery of James Dean.We were only starting to know him and then he was gone.

Do you ever get back to Fairmount? Do you think it is important that the town try to preserve its rich history?

I get back to Fairmount every now and then — sadly, its to visit the funeral home. I guess thats all part of life. I have so much fondness for Fairmount. Its an iconic Midwestern town with a fascinating history.

JD1

Was the “Cruiser” character on Garfield in Paradise inspired by Dean?

Yes.

When you first created Garfield did you ever think he would have lasted forty years?

I was just thrilled to get syndicated. I didnt think about 40 years ahead — or even 25. I just knew I was thrilled to get the comic strip in 41 newspapers when we started and the rest has been gravy.

Why do you think the characters in the strip have been such a comfort to readers of all ages throughout the years?

Everyone can relate to Garfield in some way because most of the humor is about eating or sleeping, something we all do. Also, he is a pet and most people can relate to the pet-owner relationship which makes Jon relatable. And Odie, who hasn’t known an Odie? He is the stereotypical dumb dog — lovable but brainless as a brick.

What do you love most about creating comics ?

I love to make people laugh — or if not that — just to give them a smile. Theres a lot of bad news in the world. Im proud to be able to lighten things up a bit.

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Do you think creativity and imagination are more important than ever in such busy times as today?

Creativity is in part about  problem-solving. And problem-solving is looking for different angles and finding imaginative and inventive ways to address the problem. I dont know that creativity and imagination are more important today than they were thousands of years ago — you had to be kind of creative to make fire.

What do you do when you need to slow down and unwind?

I love to golf when the Indiana weather allows it. I also enjoy fishing and playing with my grandchildren.

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

Loving what you do for a living helps.

Do you hope your characters outlive you?

In a word, yes. For as long as Garfield can continue to make people smile, I hope he’ll hang around and that means long after I’m gone. 

 

 

 

 

An Interview with Graham Masterton

GM GRAVETYE

Before becoming a novelist author Graham Masterton worked as editor for such iconic publications as Mayfair and the British edition of Penthouse. His first novel, The Manitou was later adapted into film, starring Tony Curtis and featuring Susan Strasburg. Over the years his works in horror and fiction have delighted readers all over the world. In his latest offering, the Katie Maguire thriller, Dead Men Whistling he writes of revenge being taken against whistleblowers in An Garda Sicochana the Irish Police.

For those that might not be familiar with your background, can you tell us a little about your childhood? Did you have an active imagination as a child?

I didn’t see too much of my father when I was young because after a brief spell as a council architect after the war he rejoined the Army and was posted to Antwerp. He loved the Army because he loved shouting at people. Up until I was a teenager I thought that was the way you got things done — shouting at people – and to some extent it works, but I learned that it doesn’t make you any friends and it doesn’t win you long-term loyalty. My father had an affair with a Belgian girl in Antwerp and my parents divorced when I was seven. My mother remarried soon after. My stepfather was always very good to me, and used to take me regularly to Farnborough Airshow and other treats, but he was mentally unbalanced after his experience as a prisoner during almost all of World War Two and he had an explosive temper. In those days nobody knew much about PTSD.

I was always drawing and writing when I was young. After I was taken to see the film of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea I wrote a novel in an exercise book about a harpoonist called Hans Lee and his fight with a giant squid. I bound it in cardboard, drew a picture on the front, and sold it to my friend for a penny. That was my first-ever royalty! After that I wrote numerous books in the same way, as well as a comic called Flash which featured a spaceman called Don Kenyon. When I was about nine or ten I discovered Edgar Allan Poe, and began to write short horror stories which I would read to my school friends during morning break. One of the stories about a man who decorated his country mansion with pieces of his murdered wife won the school magazine prize. Years later I met an old school friend of mine, a City trader, who said that one of my stories had given him nightmares for years. It was about a man who had his head chopped off but continued to walk about singing Tiptoe Through The Tulips out of his severed neck. When I was about 13 I wrote a 400-page vampire novel which is sadly (or perhaps not-so-sadly) lost, but I still have another novel set in the time of the Napoleonic wars about giant crabs (which pre-dated Guy N Smith by at least a decade).

In my mid-teens I came across the American Beat writers like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, Allan Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and William Burroughs. When The Naked Lunch was published in England in 1965 I wrote to William Burroughs who was then living in Tangiers, and we corresponded for two or three years before he eventually came to London seeking a treatment for his morphine addiction and we became friends. He and I spent many days and evenings discussing writing techniques, and in particular how to write so that the reader felt they were ‘in’ the story, rather than just reading it, and how to become invisible as an author, which is much harder than it sounds. William called it ‘El Hombre Invisible’ – the invisible man.

What was it like having Thomas Thorne Baker, the first man to transmit news photographs by wireless and inventor of dayglo as a grandfather? What was he like as a person? What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned from him?

‘Daddy Tom’, as my sister and I used to call him, was a remarkable scientist. Not only was he the first person to send photographs by wireless (a picture from a court case in Birmingham to The Daily Mirror in Fleet Street) but he worked on early television and colour photography. I have one of his books on photographic emulsions but I can’t understand a single word of it. He was not only clever but very amusing. He told me a bedtime story about people on another planet whose heads were made of bread rolls and whenever they got hungry they cut a slice out of their head, buttered it and ate it. I remember when I was about eight years old being beckoned into his dining room and given a glass of Chateau Lafite and asked what I thought of it. I also remember a story of his about one of his friends who prided himself on his wonderful salads. When he invited my grandfather to supper he ostentatiously tossed his salad at the table, but as he was doing so his nose dripped into it, and my grandfather was then faced with the awkward situation of having to say that he wasn’t hungry after all. The most important thing I learned from him was showmanship – how to entertain people and keep them happy and amused. I think he learned that from his own father who was a theatrical impresario in Victorian London, and was involved in music-hall and comedy.

How did you make the transition from editor to author? What led you to do so?

I was editor of the UK edition of Penthouse for three years (after having been deputy editor of Mayfair for three years) and it was a dream job in many ways. Not only was I surrounded by gorgeous girls with no clothes on, I had a substantial editorial budget and I could afford some of the very best writers and artists and photographers. Kingsley Amis wrote our wine column and Humphrey Lyttleton wrote our food column and I also ran articles by Brian Aldiss and John Steinbeck Jr. But after six years of editing monthly magazines I began to grow bored, quite frankly, and after visiting New York regularly and getting to know American publishers I had already written and published my first sex how-to books, How A Woman Loves To Be Loved and How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed (still in print, incredibly). Both books sold really well and I began to realise that I could make a living out of them. Something else happened, too. At the Penthouse Christmas party 1973 I started an affair with my editorial assistant, Wiescka, although I was already married. I fell in love with Wiescka and left my wife and the stress was all too much. I quit Penthouse and Wiescka and I went to Stockholm for a while, to get as far away from the turmoil as possible. Our affair was even splashed in the Sunday People – ‘Sex Mag Boss’s Marriage Blues’.

I carried on writing sex books until my editor at Pinnacle Books told me that ‘the bottom has fallen out of the sex book market’ and that he didn’t want the new book I was working on. I told him that he still had a contract with me which he had to honour and so I sent him The Manitou, which I had written in about a week to keep myself amused in between sex books. It was inspired by Wiescka’s first pregnancy and a story about Native American spirits which I had read in The Buffalo Bill Annual 1955. Pinnacle Books liked it, and the rest is horror novel history.

What was it like to see The Manitou come to life on the screen? Where you a fan of Tony Curtis’ work prior?

I liked the film, and in particular I thought Tony Curtis was perfect as the phony fortune-teller Harry Erskine. I had obviously seen one or two Tony Curtis films before, such as Some Like It Hot, but I wasn’t a special fan of his. The only part of the film that I wasn’t so keen on was the Star Warsy climax, but then Star Wars had just come out at the time and the director Bill Girdler was deeply impressed by it. Unfortunately you couldn’t remake the film with the same director and cast because Bill Girdler died in a helicopter crash soon after The Manitou was released, and Tony Curtis and Susan Strasberg and Burgess Meredith and Michael Ansara are all brown bread.

What led you to form the Graham Masterton Written In Prison Award (Nagroda Grahama Mastertona W Wiezieniu Pisane) for the inmates of all of Poland’s penal institutions to enter a short story contest? Do you think people who find themselves in such situations are often overlooked by society as a whole? Why do you think it is important to encourage creativity even in adverse circumstances?

At the end of a promotional tour of Lower Silesia in 2016 I was taken to Wolow Prison by my friend Marcin Dymalski who works for the Wroclaw Agglomeration (an association of towns around Wroclaw to promote sports and the arts and culture in general.) Wolow is a facility for serious criminals and recidivists security is very tight. I gave a talk to the inmates and once I had told them a few Irish jokes they really lightened up and became very responsive. Some of them spoke very good English and all of them had read a great deal (not much else to do in Wolow). It occurred to me while I was having lunch with the Warden Robert Kuczera afterwards that the inmates might benefit from entering a short-story contest. It would give him them a chance either to explain their situation or to let their imagination fly beyond the walls of their cells, or both. The Warden liked the idea and it was taken up by the whole Polish Prison Service. Last year (2017) we had 130 entries, which were translated for me so that I could judge the best. We have run the contest again this year and expect to get at least as many entries, if not more. What I have found especially heartening is that so far this year 11 entries have come from women inmates. Last year the second prize was won by a woman and her fictional account of the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her partner rang horribly true.

Can you tell us a little about Dead Men Whistling? What can your readers expect from that particular work? What led you to create the character of Katie Maguire?

Wiescka and I lived in Cork for five years. Cork is a fascinating city with an extraordinary history. It is the second-deepest harbour in the world after Sydney and because of that it has attracted all kinds of invaders and visitors over the centuries, including Vikings and Sir Francis Drake. Cork was the last port of call of the Titanic before she set out for America. The culture and the slang in Cork are unique. People will still say ‘take a sconce at that’ when they mean ‘take a look’ although of course a sconce is a candlestick. Horror was going through something of a decline in the late 1990s and publishers were bringing out a fewer horror novels and paying less for them. It occurred to me that there was a wider audience from crime fiction, and so I thought of setting a crime novel in Cork. I created Katie Maguire because I find it a challenge to write from a woman’s point of view, and in particular a woman who has been promoted to a high rank (detective superintendent) amongst resentful and misogynistic fellow officers. The first novel I called A Terrible Beauty to quote from the Irish poet WB Yeats, but that was published only in America. After Wiescka sadly died in 2011, I was taken on by my current agents, Peters Fraser and Dunlop, and they sold A Terrible Beauty to the new publishing company Head of Zeus. They changed the title to White Bones because they thought that the original title wouldn’t resonate wth a UK readership. I was already halfway through writing a sequel, Broken Angels, and Head of Zeus commissioned me to write more. Dead Men Whistling is the ninth, and I am now working on the tenth.

Dead Men Whistling is based on the ongoing controversy in An Garda Siochana, the Irish police force, about officers who have blown the whistle on various corrupt activities, such as penalty points being surreptitiously removed from the driving licenses of favoured individuals, and the figures for roadside breath tests being grossly exaggerated. In my novel, the whistleblowers are being murdered before they can give evidence to the judge who is running an inquiry into Garda corruption.

You have also re-released The Hell Candidate that was originally penned during Reagan’s era. Can you tell us more about it also? What led you to revive it at this point in time?

I think the reasons for reviving The Hell Candidate in the time of Trump are fairly obvious. I wrote The Hell Candidate after making friends in California with Ronald Reagan’s older brother Neil Reagan. He filled me in on a lot of the background of how his brother was running for President, and since I was fully into writing horror novels at the time, I thought it would be entertaining to imagine that a candidate could win if he were possessed by the Devil.

You have also written poetry. What do you enjoy most about poetry? Do you do much of that these days?

I have always believed that writing poetry is a great exercise for novelists. It helps you to understand rhythm, clarity and simplicity of language, and how to communicate emotion in the fewest number of words. I still write it from time to time when the mood takes me. I wrote several poems when Wiescka died, which helped me to come to terms with my own feelings.

M&B

Graham Masterton & William S. Burroughs

What was it like to work with William S. Burroughs on Rules of Duel back in the 70s?

Hilarious, most of the time. Although William dressed like a bank manager and spoke with a gravelly Mid-Western drawl, he was very droll and sarcastic. I used to go round to his top-floor flat just off Jermyn Street or else we would go out to dinner somewhere and talk about literary ideas and politics non-stop. We got thrown out of a Lebanese restaurant in Covent Garden once because William got drunk and starting shouting out ‘Bomb the Ay-rabs!’ Rules of Duel was written in what he called ’intersection writing’ – that is, writing a sentence and then cutting it up and mixing it with other sentences so that it took on a new and different meaning. The only problem is that this makes Rules of Duel untranslatable into any other language.

What do you personally remember most about the Beat Generation?

What was most important for me about the Beat Generation was that they were unafraid to speak their minds about anything, and unafraid to express their emotions. Apart from William and Brion Gysin and Alexander Trocchi I didn’t meet too many of them personally, although Allen Ginsberg dropped in to William’s flat one evening when he was visiting London. He said that he was ‘bushed’ after flying from New York and he lay down on the floor to rest. He spread his greasy black locks all over my pale suede Italian shoes (I was an obsessive Mod at the time) and for that I have never forgiven him, regardless of his poetry.

What are some of your most fond memories over the course of your life so far?

Wiescka and I were together for 37 years and all of those years with her were bliss. Being an author and working at home, we could be together 24 hours a day. Of course we argued but arguments are a healthy part of marriage and treating each other equally. I can remember us sitting together in a restaurant in San Francisco watching the sunset. We both ordered lobster but we forgot how huge the lobsters are in America. I can remember her looking up to the ceiling and putting her hands together and praying, ‘Dear Lord, when I look down at my plate again, can there please be no more lobster on it?’

What projects are you currently working on?

I am writing the tenth Katie Maguire novel. This one is about organized begging which is a scourge in many cities in Ireland and the UK at the moment. It is also about puppy farming, which is a serious scandal that Irish politicians with one notable exception are choosing to ignore. I am also promoting my new horror novel Ghost Virus which comes out as an ebook in May and as a hardback in October. I have more ideas but they haven’t gelled yet.

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

Kindness. Listening to other people and understanding their problems and their ambitions. Smiling at old people to show them that they are not invisible.

What are your personal feelings on life and death and what may come after? How do you hope to be remembered when your time comes?

I am not religious. I believe that when you die, it’s just like going to sleep. Blackness. The end. I think that promises of heaven or threats of hell are absurd. Because of that, I have no particular hopes about how I might be remembered, because I won’t be there to enjoy it. It’s quite satisfying, though, to think that I will have left behind a considerable amount of published work which can be read after I’m gone.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

Only the advice I gave to our three sons: don’t turn on the tap full blast when there is an upturned teaspoon in the sink.

 

“Empty Near Haiku” by Kelley White

haiku

Empty near haiku

 

 

She opens the door.
Silence. No dog to greet her.
He’s been gone three years.

She holds a wallet
sized picture, bent, creased faded.
It’s no one she knows.

He squinches his mouth
around his leaving. Swallows
the last bits of love.

The cabinets still full
of his favorite foods.
His toothbrush unused.

She searches her purse
for reading glasses. Return
address-no one known.

Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her recent books are TOXIC ENVIRONMENT (Boston Poet Press) and TWO BIRDS IN FLAME (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

“Before the Beginning” by Megan Mealor

eve

Before the Beginning

God without Eve:
watercolor wanderlust
a blizzard stoked with stones

She smoothed in
vicious strokes of sea
lit reclusive hillsides
with bellflowers and begonias
etched herself at awestruck angles
tangled Adam’s warring bones
climbed and climbed forbidden skies
slept forgotten in the mosses

Serpents sweetened and riddled
deafening star-stunned sparrows
left unfeathered, undefined

Previously published in Liquid Imagination, November 2017

Megan Mealor is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has been featured widely in numerous journals, most recently Really System, The Opiate, Fowl Feathered Review, The Lake, The Mystic Blue Review, and streetcake. Her debut poetry collection, Bipolar Lexicon, is forthcoming in October from Unsolicited Press. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her teens, her main mission is to inspire others stigmatized for their mental health.