Have there been any authors who have influenced your work? If so, who?
As a newbie filmmaker, my primary focus is to write material that I can later turn into animated work once I am more established. If anything, nobody influences me. My influence is creating stories that treat young people as the intelligent adults they are. Children have brains. They deserve good storytelling, less artificiality on the way things are presented to them, and a lot more jokes.
And yes, answering the most common question, my very own big bad wolf penned his memoirs long before some Leonardo DiCaprio movie came out called The Wolf of Wall Street. My story is a lot cooler and funnier for younger audiences! Sorry, Mr. Scorsese!
Out of all the characters you’ve written, who is your favorite? Why?
Aladdin Todd Jackson, the title character in my book The Big Bad Wolf Strikes It Rich! Fairy Tale Wall Street Memoirs, is really relatable. He isn’t perfect. Animated movies and children’s literature right now is about these fantasy, cutesy characters. We don’t have anyone with a real life profession. Aladdin has been poor and rich. He knows what it’s like to struggle, but he relates to being disrespected because he is rich – which many stories don’t talk about either. Regardless of his wealth, his richness is never part of the story. His personality is really vibrant and out there. He is nice and moody. Aladdin loves making money on Wall Street, soy milk, friendship because he’s been lonesome, and living at his Ritz-Carlton hotel condo in lower Manhattan.
He doesn’t eat pork and was wrongly accused of triple homicide with the three little pigs’ murder at the start of the book. We get to see how he ends up changing around his incorrectly bad reputation smeared by the pigs onto a real career path. He starts out not knowing how to make do with how skilled he is with money and makes a career out of it. And, he’s really silly! The book is like a children’s ridiculous take on those old 80’s Donald Trump money saving books all of America bought then. Aladdin is sweet though, unlike Mr. Trump, and his quirks make him a lovable friend to all at the end.
Are there any types of scenes you find more difficult to write? Which ones and why.
A lot of what I write is based on my own reality or something I have witnessed in someone else’s reality, good or bad. Everything gets changed a lot to where you don’t know what I am talking about. Some of the things that happen to Aladdin in the story are real. I once had a guy where I just gave him my cell phone number, and he called me a minute later in front of me. Of course, this got written into Aladdin’s story!
Aladdin is a lot like me in some aspects, despite our clear differences like how I am not a stockbroker. Someone might think with Aladdin the big bad wolf’s situation he should be out partying at clubs and being a total snob, yet all he cares about is where he can find a good slice of pizza or doing something stupid with a fellow group of immature people. He could hang out in his office, or he could go through time into 1800’s Manhattan and meet a green witch. Aladdin isn’t entirely me. He is a true New Yorker, therefore, he has really rude remarks and blurts out all kinds of things you shouldn’t say. He almost got fried by a laser beam for asking someone her age!
The Evil Queen in the Snow White portion of the story is, unlike me, from Europe, yet like me, complains about everything. Can you believe she ordered a huntsman to go after someone because the diner waitress brought mustard instead of ketchup? How dare they!? Looking back, I hope to expand upon some of these characters the day I get the film version of The Big Bad Wolf Strikes It Rich! going. They are all so unique and human-like. Every one of them has good and bad. The Evil Queen is based on me during my worst moments.
What would you say the most rewarding part of being an author is?
Authors have copyright legal protection you don’t get with a screenplay. Of course, anyone can always steal elements of your work. Stealing your work at large, down to detail, as many people have had happen? You can really take someone to court for doing that if you have a pre-existing novel and audiobook out.
What advice do you have for authors just starting out in their journey?
First, know that if you are of the female gender, your chances of being rejected by a major publishing house are leaps higher. You can find an article I read online somewhere how a girl submitted her fake book everywhere as male and female aliases. The fake male author received responses almost right away; the female fake pen name received rejections or was ignored.
Secondly, be like a businessperson. Know your legal rights and financial rights with a contract. Everyone thinks they should not speak their minds. Authors are willing to give up everything to see their book on a shelf somewhere. With most sales being online, few if any books ever make it to the marketplace.
Point three, know that New York Times bestselling books are misleading. To get on that list, you have to be with a specific publishing house, selling your book in a small number of bookshops. You can really skew the results. Have your boyfriend come and buy all the books with his friends in these shops, and you’re a “bestselling author!” Congratulations! The real bestselling label comes from sales. Sell a million dollars worth of books, and you have real bragging rights.
Final point I can think of, most major book publishers pay you an advance because they take most of your royalties. I know a guy earning $20 per month from his popular book because he took an advance. Please, know your financial rights. Your art is worth something. You’re better off renegotiating with that big publishing house, finding a smaller place, or going solo.
Do you have a writing ritual? If so, please explain.
My brain functions primarily via other artistic formats. Paraphrasing an awfully corny music meme I saw the other day, writing is not my forte, music is! I’m an amazing composer and was always good at flute and stuff like that. And, I think I’m going to be a pretty good movie director, particularly once I get to the point where I have a big animation house with animators doing all the work in my head one person cannot pull off. As a writer? Well, oh, perhaps a SCREENWRITER, where things are direct to the point. Writing an actual literary work, in which one needs to be descriptive of everything and not so much what’s going on in front of the camera or animated world? Wow, a struggle for me! My only solution was imagining myself talking it out verbatim, as one might hear real conversations. How might a sleazy stockbroker wolf who’s actually really sweet at times write his book? Like this. Exactly, like this! The real conversational flow one might hear from the mouth of an actual New Yorker, someone born and raised there, who now works on Wall Street.
Was being an author something you always wanted to do?
Are you kidding?!?! No way! I felt so bad this one day at school. I was in second grade, paying full attention to a local children’s book author from Chicago in our school cafeteria. She came in to tell us what being a big time author is like. Because I was paying attention – and I always did, always do to people who deserve respect – she called me out in front of everyone. “That girl over there in the pink jogging suit? She looks like she’s going to be a writer when she grows up! She’s paying attention. And wearing glasses!” I sat silently. The very nice writer said: “Whoops. I think I embarrassed her!”
I hated glasses before that. This, being called out as looking like a writer, made me despise them. I began breaking my glasses all the time. Who wanted to look like a writer? I felt like shouting, “WRITER?!?! Me!??!?! I want to be like….!!!!! Marilyn Monroe, her, or those old movie stars! Making movies and writing them, and, ohhhhh!!!!” Because I thought Marilyn Monroe and all the old film stars got to wear sexy makeup and glamorous retro dresses but were writing and directing the movies. I didn’t know what being a movie director was called. I also wanted to be like Madonna in the “Human Nature” music video, slithering around in a latex catsuit for a music video, or Janet Jackson, dancing and looking so carefree as she sang.
Writers weren’t glamorous!
When I got to meet Jackie Collins when she went to Chicago, and I interviewed her, I told her this story. She was like, “What?!” And, “Writers do lead lonesome lives…I don’t get to meet people when I’m writing. I stay inside or write by the pool.” I did clarify to her, “No, this was me when I was SEVEN YEARS OLD. I don’t feel this way now! And you’re so pretty. You are not my seven year old idea of what a writer looks like.”
So number one off that, we need to teach kids, being a writer doesn’t equal ugly. And wearing glasses can be cool. I’d love to see media portray intelligence as attractive. But yeah, my honest first impressions of being an author were not good. The nice author coming to my school being so frumpy didn’t help. Again, I was seven. I’m a lot more feminist minded today and don’t judge women by appearance anymore as an adult; please understand this. 😉
If you could have a conversation with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Wow, I would love to meet Peter Jackson! I imagine taking him to Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills, which is probably close to his house. First, because I’ve been professionally bothering Thomas Keller the chef who owns all the Bouchon’s since I was 20. I’m the biggest fan, definitely of him, Wolfgang Puck, and Emeril Lagasse because I dream of having healthy food products that taste good and their staffers are so amazing. So get that out of the way. After I tell Mr. Peter Jackson of how awesome the tomato soup combo is and we go all foodie on everything on the menu, I would talk to him about his Lord of the Rings trilogy and ask him questions about his amazing cartoon he did with Steven Spielberg called The Adventures of Tintin. Quite possibly the most lifelike cartoon I’ve ever seen. He seems really shy but entertaining to chat with. We could talk about his house in New Zealand. All kinds of stuff. How he sold his apartment to Taylor Swift. I mean, it’s his conversation. I’m really Mr. Jackson’s guest, therefore, having to do whatever he wants. I wish he would do more animated movies. Mr. Jackson set the bar really high for film trilogies. What I love about him is he left it there. No “Lord of the Rings Go to Malibu and Strike Back” situations. A good story needs to be left as is.
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