Today our guest on the blog is author Scott Fivelson, he writes both plays and books and has taken time out from his busy schedule to tell us more about himself.
1) Where is your hometown?
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, USA. City of the Big Shoulders, as the poet Carl Sandburg called it. He must have been an early Chicago Bears fan… The very mention of Chicago or the Bears probably sends an e-mail alert to Jim Belushi.
2) How long have you been writing? Where did your love of writing begin?
Nobody said anything about loving it… But yes, you guessed it, I like writing. I think it started as a kid as a way of being late for dinner. Wait a minute, that doesn’t speak well for my mother’s cooking. She made outstanding coconut pancakes. (I guess this is the first time I’ve ever written about them…) The truth is, I can’t actually remember why I liked writing, apparently gravitated to it without any sort of conscious decision. Maybe that’s one of the things that makes it interesting to me. Maybe that’s why I sometimes write mysteries – when I’m not writing satires or romantic comedies. Or sometimes my writing combines these elements. Speaking of which…
3) In October I reviewed your play “Dial L for Latch-Key.” Can you tell the readers a little about the play and where the idea came from?
Here is the link to my review http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-2LY
I loved Alfred Hitchcock’s film of the play, “Dial M for Murder.” A few years ago, while watching the movie again, I found myself quite caught up in the notion of a play inspired by just the last act of “Dial M,” where the detective employs all his brilliance and chicanery to bring Ray Milland to justice. It seemed a perfect little arena to revisit all of Hitchcock – or as much as I could fit into this stuffed bird of a play on the Bates Motel wall.
4) “Dial L for Latch-Key” has been performed in some big cities. Can you tell the readers where it has been seen on stage?
The play has been presented on a number of stages, including the Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre in Highgate Village, London, the New End Theatre in Hampstead, London, and The Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco, produced by Off Broadway West.
Off Broadway West
Upstairs at the Gatehouse poster
5) If someone downloads/buys your play and wants to put it on stage, do they need a license? Do you get any special royalty payment? Or do you only get the income from the original purchase?
My publisher, Hen House Press in New York, has the print rights, and they publish “Dial L for Latch-Key” as a paperback and as an eBook, available on Amazon, BarnesandNoble, et al. I hold the stage rights, and so I have the final word on where it gets produced. I get contacted by theater companies, or sometimes it’s one proactive actor or director who’s feeling inspired to mount a production. I can be contacted at: email@example.com. My publisher Hen House Press will relay offers as well. The payment for a license is ordinarily a per performance royalty fee. If it’s a very small theater troupe or school situation, I’ve been known to make an exception and waive royalties, but usually it’s a per perf fee, yes.
6) Tell us about some of the other plays you’ve written, what are they about?
Since “Dial L for Latch-Key” is a one-act comedy mystery, when it ran at the Upstairs at the Gatehouse theatre in London, we put it on a double bill with a one-act dramatic thriller I’ve written, called “Leading the Witness.” A young blind woman has been witness to a murder, and the only one who believes her is a blind New York City homicide cop – a detective who’s lost his sight in the line of duty. As I say, that one’s also a one-act, but it plays like a mini-movie. Very cinematic. Ironic, for having two blind characters as the leads. It’s fairly thrilling, I think. James Torme – an absolutely brilliant actor as well being as one of the best jazz singers on the scene today – his father was the legendary Mel Torme, and the talent shows – James played the “Inspector” in “Dial L for Latch-Key” and he also portrayed the “Det. Lt. John School” in “Leading the Witness.” James told me that he prepared by having a friend lead him around London, eyes closed, or something terrifically Method like that… He lived to tell the tale, and was wonderful in the part.
7) You’re multi-talented and have written books too, what genres have you written in?
You’re awfully kind. We ought to do these interviews more often… I started out writing a number of satirical pieces and short stories, and many of those appeared in Chicago Magazine, Playboy Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. I’m especially proud of my novel, “Tuxes” (BeachSide Press), a comic take on the classic rich-family, multi-generational saga. It’s like Edna Ferber’s “Giant,” TV series like “Dallas” and “Dynasty,” then throw in Albert Brooks and even a little Mary Shelley. Ask.com has compared it to Kurt Vonnegut, so I’ve got to remember to send them flowers or something. As a screenwriter, I’ve worked in other genres. The late, great David Carradine played a singer-songwriter in “American Reel,” opposite the very fine British actor Michael Maloney, whom you may recognize from his work in Kenneth Branagh films like “Henry V” and “Hamlet.” Mariel Hemingway was in it too, which was lovely. I co-wrote the picture with a great friend, Junior Burke.
8) Your short story , “A Farewell to Legs,” is also available as an audiobook. The reader is Mariel Hemingway. The book has been described as written in a Hemingway style in our time. How coincidental is the reader’s name?
Truth to tell, not too coincidental. The actress Mariel Hemingway (“Manhattan,” “The Contender,” many other films) is the granddaughter of the iconic author Ernest Hemingway. Of course, I knew Mariel from having worked with her on “American Reel.” Still, it was a real coup and an artistic blessing when she agreed to read what is essentially a tribute to and sendup of the classic Hemingway prose style. Standing in the recording booth before Mariel started the audiobook reading, she got off a good one: “Wait a minute… I’m channeling my grandfather.” Maybe she was. Her reading was good and true, as Hemingway himself might have written.
9) What are the biggest differences in writing a play as opposed to writing a novel?
I equally enjoy writing fiction and for the stage. For me, it’s like it’s the difference between living internally and living externally, in a creative sense. With a novel, you stay strictly indoors, but with all the accompanying pleasures of that. With a play, you get to go out of doors, you get to roam more freely. With a screenplay, you’re on Mars – if it’s a Will Smith film. Oh, excuse me, that’s right, it’s just another Earth…
10) What are you working on now? Have you any near future publication dates for fans?
It’s been an exciting year. I’ve been directing a feature, a very unique Hollywood biopic – “Near Myth: The Oskar Knight Story.” The film stars Lenny Von Dohlen (“Twin Peaks,” “Tender Mercies”), Oscar winner Margaret O’Brien, Joaquim de Almeida, Julianna Guill, Rudolf Martin, Kristina Anapau, Lawrence Pressman. And Lenny Von Dohlen is amazing as “Oskar Knight.” He really does the man justice. Watch for the movie later next year. To come full circle, “Dial L for Latch-Key” has just been released as “Dial L for Latch-Key: The Radio Play.” It’s available in both digital and CD formats from Blackstone Audio. The play is performed by the By The Time I Get To Tucson Players – Phil Gordon, Colleen Zandbergen, Jesus Limon, Brian Levario, and Douglas Grant. It’s quite witty fun. I don’t want to overstate it, but these actors would keep even Ralph Fiennes on his toes. Plus we recorded it at the JTG Studios in Tucson. Let’s see Ralph match that.
“Dial L for Latch-Key” at Amazon:
“Leading the Witness” at Amazon:
“A Farewell to Legs” audiobook at Hen House Press website:
“Tuxes” (novel) at Amazon:
“American Reel” (film) at Amazon and MVD Visual: