Tag Archives: Why Writers Should Watch Authors Anonymous

My Interview with David Congalton, writer of “Authors Anonymous”

3 May

Three announcements before we begin today:

My progress bar is updated on the right side of my page. You might notice that my next manuscript – the mysterious “TMT” – is now named: Take Me Tomorrow. More information is coming soon!

Confessions of a Book Geek will be featuring Minutes Before Sunset, and you’ll be able to read a review and interview soon. I will keep everyone posted.

Life OK – Star TV’S new Hindi GEC Channel – quoted Minutes Before Sunset on Twitter.

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As you know, I recently posted Why Writers Should Watch “Authors Anonymous” – a review of a new movie that I recommend to everyone, especially those who love the craft of writing. What you may not know is what happened the day I posted my review.

get-attachment-2.aspxDavid Congalton, the writer of “Authors Anonymous”, contacted me about my review. We began talking, and he kindly agreed to an interview. I am sharing that interview today. “SAT” will be me (of course) and DC will be David Congalton. I had a great time interviewing him, and I think it’s important for readers and viewers of the movie to see what happened behind the scene. This is just another reason to watch “Authors Anonymous.” All photos shown are credited to Screen Media.

SAT – Why did you want to create this film?

DC – The short answer is that I tried screenwriting in two phases. During the first phase, I wrote 7 or 8 really bad “high concept” scripts, all designed to be commercial. Then I stopped and took a long break. When I finally decided to try screenwriting again, I opted for something more personal. I wrote what I knew. I wrote from the heart.

SAT – Many, if not all, writers can relate to the characters of this movie. Were all of these characters based on real people or were they created from a combination of experiences?

 DC – I was a director of a writers’ conference for 12 years and I’ve seen aspiring writers up close. John K. Butzin and Henry Obert are based on real people, but the others are really combinations of writers I’ve come across, i.e. the writer who can never get beyond the idea stage, the writer who thinks self-publishing is the answer, etc. They’re out there.

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SAT – Was there a certain character you feel more connected to? One you dislike the most? Why?

DC – I will always have a soft spot for Henry Obert, played wonderfully by actor Chris Klein, because Henry is based on me (except for the football stuff). I don’t dislike any of my characters. If I did, I wouldn’t write them. 

SAT – What are some of your pet peeves that take place in the writing community?

DC – My biggest pet peeve has always been those writers who present themselves as “nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.” ANY AUTHOR can nominate themselves for something like $50. It means nothing, absolutely nothing, and when I see an author trying that, it tells me he or she is a phony.

SAT – Writers often have an expectation for other writers to be very well-read. This can create an unrealistic pressure for writers to say they’ve read nearly everything out there. “Authors Anonymous” shows this with Kaley Cuoco’s character, Hannah. What was the hardest and easiest part about portraying this conflicting issue?

DC – You’re right. Writers are assumed to be well-read and up to speed on all writers in all genres. But that’s rarely the case. As I like to argue, a writer must also be a reader—you’ve got to be out there reading other people’s stuff. So we have a little fun with that in Hannah’s character. She really doesn’t have a favorite writer. She hasn’t read the classics, but she still manages to succeed by drawing on her own experiences.

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SAT – What is the reason behind the title?

DC – My title for the script has always been Scribble. The producers changed the title to Authors Anonymous strictly for marketing purposes. Research shows that Video on Demand movies get more downloads if the title begins with A, B, C, or D.

SAT – What is your favorite quote from the movie?

DC – I don’t have a favorite quote, but I have a favorite scene—it has to be the one where, during the meeting of the writers’ group, Henry is talking about the evolving relationship between his characters Scotty and Kristy, when actually the conversation is about Henry and Hannah. It always breaks my heart when Hannah says the characters are just friends.

SAT – All great stories have a lesson hidden in them, waiting to be interpreted. Do you think writers can take different meanings from the lessons in the story?

DC – No two people are going to react the same to Authors Anonymous. I hope that all writers who see the movie appreciate my message that you have to do the work as a writer. There are no shortcuts. But I’ve been to multiple screenings and each audience reacts differently in terms of humor and raw emotional response.

SAT – As a writer, what was the most nerve-racking part of sharing this story?

DC – The most nerve-racking part was wondering if this movie was ever going to get made. First draft written in September 2005. Production finally in August 2012. Theatrical release in April 2014. Do the math: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 years from page to screen. I think that’s more than sufficient cause for anxiety!

SAT – Are there any new projects in the mix?

DC – Yes, thank you for asking. I have a second script, Seven Sisters, currently under Option. I’m doing the final rewrite now, and we hope to be in production this fall.

SAT –  Last question: Who is your favorite writer?

DC – That’s easy. My favorite writer is Richard Brautigan, a humorist and author of such classics as Trout Fishing in America and Revenge of the Lawn. Keen observers of Authors Anonymous will note that the famous author there is named Richard Brodwell.

SAT – Thank you for speaking with me, David! I enjoyed your movie tremendously, and I will keep my eye open for your future works. 

~SAT

Why Writers Should Watch “Authors Anonymous”

25 Apr

Two announcements before we begin:

An exclusive excerpt from Seconds Before Sunrise can be read on Making My Mark as well as a review. “The first book, Minutes before Sunset was a great hook to the series and I couldn’t wait for the second book to be released.” Read the rest of the review and excerpt by clicking here. You can also check out Minutes Before Sunset and Seconds Before Sunrise.

Speaking of my novels, I asked you all on my Facebook page if you wanted me to have a progress bar for my future projects. Since you said yes, I have added a progress bar which you can see on the right side of my website. (And below this paragraph.) I’ll update it every two weeks. Once “TMT” is turned into my final editor, I will release more information on the name and what it is about. “Death Before Daylight” will be released after TMT, so the order shows the order of the releases.

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It will make you laugh. It will make you nod. And it might even push some of your writer pet peeves – which is exactly why you should take 93 minutes out of your day to watch it.

“Authors Anonymous” is a mockumentary about aspiring writers.

Before I explain in detail (without spoilers, believe it or not. Never mind, I’m using spoilers, but they aren’t awful) about why I think you should watch it, here is the synopsis and trailer from IMDB:

“When a dysfunctional group of unpublished writers accept Hannah into their fold, the last thing they expect is her overnight success. Can these lovable misfits achieve their artistic dreams and avoid killing one another in the process?”

Yes. That is the girl from The Big Bang Theory. Her name is Kaley Cuoco, and she does a good job.

If you think this movie is going to be a serious, deep discussion of a writer’s life, this isn’t for you. This movie is for the writer who just wants to laugh at all the ridiculousness that happens in this writing world. I am one of those writers. I even giggled in delight at the things that normally make my blood pressure rise.

Being able to laugh at myself is how I stay sane (to the best of my ability anyway.) Being able to laugh at this is how I remind myself that we are – in fact – in this together. Even then, the film is simple, light-hearted, and not to be taken too seriously, but…

“Authors Anonymous” tackles a lot of clichés, stereotypes, and exceptions in the publishing world, which is why it’s so fantastic. In fact, I AM some of these clichés, and I think it’s okay to be some of these stereotypical writers. The sad part is when writers try to hurt one another. The good part is that we can be honest about these things, and we can laugh, knowing that we’ve faced many of these issues together. 

Here are just some of my favorites:

Writer Groups:

We hear about them. We attend them. We love them. Then, we hate them. (In private, of course – and not all of the time. Only when we have been judged too harshly or someone else’s work was too perfect. And we only tell our “non-writer” friends how we secretly feel about this confliction.)

It’s a cliché we all know.

Writers help other writers until one writer gets too good. Then, shit jealousy hits the fan, and no one knows who “deserves” to be published more. It’s all a game of luck anyway…wait, did we seriously just say that out loud?

Note: I love you Kansas City Writers Meetup Group

“Who is your favorite writer?”

If you’re a writer, you’ve definitely been asked this. It’s one of those top five questions you find yourself explaining over and over because you answered it once and you’re too afraid a dedicated reader will see you contradict yourself in a new interview. So you have this script, and you are now forced to keep for LIFE. Unless you get a new pen name and start all over.

Note: Why do we ask questions like this? I can’t fathom having a single favorite of anything, let alone a favorite of something I’m incredibly passionate and borderline obsessed with. Please don’t make me pick my favorite color (merlot) or my favorite drink (merlot.)

The I-never-actually-write writer

“I’ll write a book one day.” “I have a great idea.” “I’ve started something that is going to be a best-seller, but I’m just stuck for now.” “I know what you should write.” Need I explain any further?

Note: I’ll fill in this note later.

Storyboards and other writing methods:

The great part of this movie is how they never come out and say everything. In a couple of scenes, you see one author’s storyboard in the background. It’s little things like that where I found myself laughing (for no apparent reason to my friend in the room who isn’t a writer.) There was also this fantastic moment I wish I could share but it would be too big of a spoiler, but I will say this: there is a limit to “researching” for a novel. I think we’ve all heard of a writer who’s taken research a little too far.

Note: “I may have a restraining order, but it happened when I was doing research” is not a line someone wants to hear from you on a first, second, or thirty-fifth date.

Traditionally published vs. Self-published

I am published. You are published. She is published. We’re all published! Why does there have to be a label in front of “published”? This movie had no fear in exposing that writers are often the worst offenders of this – and sometimes at the expense of their own friends.

Note: This is where I shamelessly link to one of my previous posts about this topic because I just want this publishing world to be a better place: Why Are Authors “Hating” On One Another?

The Awful Author Mills

So, wait. You’ll publish my book, but it’s going to cost me $6,000 and the name of my first born? Oh, you mean my character’s first born…Well…okay. If that’s my only option…It isn’t? You’ll do it for free? But I won’t see any of the earnings or marketing or anything? I…Uh…Okay. That’s better than the first deal. I’ll take it.

Note: We’re sorry. You own no rights now. Ever. And this phone service has been disconnected or is no longer in service.

Sitting in a café, park, etc. sipping on coffee while writing:

There’s a scene where this author is showing her “peaceful” garden that she writes in. At first, it’s this beautiful little couch with a desk, photos, and flowers. And then she puts in ear buds to block out the construction less than one foot away from her. Sitting in public isn’t for everyone. Neither is sitting at home.

Note: I am guilty of this. I totally sit in public when I write, and Instagram is filled with my coffee photos. No shame.

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That is all.

The showcasing of a successful writer who isn’t “well-read.”

This was my favorite part. I loved this. The writer who is deemed the most successful person in the group doesn’t even know what The Great Gatsby is. I only thought this was funny because – let’s be honest – there is a constant pressure on authors to have not only read all of the classics but to have also read everything that’s ever been released. (Which is ridiculous.)

It’s great to be able to read, and I think we would all agree when I say we wish we had more time to read. But it’s okay to tell people you haven’t read that novel everyone else has read, even though it’s popular, sitting on your bookshelf, or even the best author in the genre you write in. It’s also okay to say you do or do not like something.

Note: “Best” is subjective anyway.

Note 2: I dislike The Great Gatsby novel, mainly because Nick’s narration was as annoying to me as Toby Maguire was in Spider-Man 3. On the other hand, I loved Kristen Stewart as Marylou in On the Road, a movie adaptation of one of my favorite Kerorac novels. This seems to blow everyone’s minds. We are all allowed to say how we feel, aren’t we?

Note 3: No. No, we are not.

Note 4: Did I just participate in the whole “well-read” cliche without realizing it?

Note 5: Yes. Yes, I did.

In the end, this isn’t about a movie. I’m not reviewing a film. I am sharing a movie that reviews some of the very cliché moments that happen in our publishing world every day. But the movie itself is amateur…Wait. No. No, it’s not. It’s absolutely amazing – but again, don’t expect something deep. It’s simply a good story to sit back, relax, and have a good laugh at when you think, “Been there. Done that.” We authors aren’t alone. We’re sitting in parks and coffee shops filled with one another. (Just kidding.)

We’re in this writing adventure together, and we should support one another as we venture along. The publishing world will continue to change, but we can handle any challenge in the future. In fact, we may even have a good laugh as we overcome it.

~SAT

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