February 15, 2009

Writer Brian Spaeth Talks Writing, Movies, and Airplanes

The Writer

Brian Spaeth was raised in Hudson, Ohio, and attended The Ohio State University, where he went to class twice in two years. Anything else he would write here would be a lie or a joke, because he is very exciting and enigmatic in that way. His hobbies have all been abandoned, but he likes watching professional basketball and working out. Brian lives in Los Angeles, which is on the Western coast of the United States, right next to either Nevada or Arizona. He always gets those two mixed up.

Check out Brian at his blog, at his Twitter and Facebook pages, and at the official book site.

The Book

In the year 2012, These United States of America is politically divided to a degree not seen since the Civil War. On one side stands the fast emerging pro-flying car contingent; on the other, the stubborn and traditional pro-airplane members of the populace. At stake? The entire future of airborne leisure and transportation.

Set against this tumultuous backdrop, a young screenwriter has written a book about the only thing that can save the airplane riding industry - an impossible to conceive, 47-story airplane of such power and wonder, the world will have no choice but to submit to its glory.

The world’s first comedy/political thriller/mystery/drama/romance/action/adventure/science fiction/showbiz insider/horror/family/energy drink industry insider/holiday/autobiography, Prelude to a Super Airplane weaves the lives and destinies of 40 people together in astounding and unexpected ways, as they all find themselves facing the future of airplane riding…the Super Airplane.

Click the cover above to order Prelude to a Super Airplane today!

The Interview

I can't even start this interview the way I would do most because your book truly is out of the ordinary - but in a good way, LOL The back cover of your book - PRELUDE TO A SUPER AIRPLANE - offers the story of how this book came to be, but I'm not sure it's completely true...or is it? Tell us how this novel idea came to you.
The entire thing is fictional, but there are HEAVY layers of truth throughout. My parents really did own a chain of high-end retail furniture stores, for example. Certain elements of my brother are accurate, although he doesn’t work for the government. The second-to-last “deleted scene” is so true I almost didn’t include it. My “character” – that’s pretty much me. Everything with Jennifer is based on a real experience, minus the curse.

As to how this came to me, two days before Thanksgiving 2008, I woke up in the middle of the night, and Prelude to a Super Airplane was more or less fully formed in my head. Obviously it evolved, but the big picture just kinda appeared out of nowhere.

Did you really write the book in seven days? And if so, how was THAT experience for you?
First of all, allow me to apologize to any and all who have struggled for years with their respective novels.

If you want me to tell the absolute truth…it’s a lie. I actually wrote it in five days. I changed it to seven because I didn’t think anyone would believe me.

It was an amazing experience, and it was really just a 5-day cycle of write/gym/sleep, in a ratio of about 18/1/5 hours. I was home with my family around Thanksgiving when Prelude unleashed itself in my brain. My parents were really worried about me – they’d never really seen me in this state - but I knew I couldn’t break the cycle until I was done.

By the way, this has happened to me two other times in my writing life. Those two screenplays and this book are by far the best things I’ve ever written, so I know when it hits, to get it out.

In an odd contrast, it took me two weeks to teach myself basic Adobe InDesign and figure out how to format the thing.

The front and back covers of your novel look like movie posters. How much of your background as a screenwriter went into the development of this novel?
Totally and completely, this was a novel/movie. I make no secret of it in the book itself. And truthfully, I never, ever wanted to write a book. I’ve never really had any “book” type ideas, and the idea of detailed prose goes against all the rules of screenwriting, so I’ve never actively said, “Hey, I could write a book if I wanted.”

For whatever reason, this particular idea formed itself as a book. I’ve been told several times it reads like it wants to be a movie, and if you’ve read it, you know I’m pretty aware of that myself, and make no apologies for it. If it’s entertaining and tells a good story, I consider it a successful piece of writing.

In conclusion, I have no idea if I answered your question.

I know you have probably already envisioned your book as a movie, so tell us the logline of PRELUDE TO A SUPER AIRPLANE.
It means trimming a lot away from the book, but the movie would have to come down to this:

As the country is divided by the debate over airplanes vs flying cars, a young writer has his design for a revolutionary 47-story airplane stolen by a desperate airplane ride company.

Expand on that logline by pitching us PRELUDE in 75 words or less.
Two main converging plotlines, one main subplot:

Brian designs a world-changing 47-story airplane, and his oldest friend steals in order to save his crumbling airplane ride empire.

Peter Ovaire is running for office, promising to be the country’s first pro-airplane President in over 30 years, and he’s determined to destroy the flying car movement.

Brian meets a young pop/rock singer, but a curse only allows them to be in love while onboard an airplane.

What are you doing as an author to promote PRELUDE?
I just wrote a post about this on my site where I go into more detail, but for me, it’s basically about building awareness of my blog, on which I write irreverent nonsense every day. If people like my site, they’ll like the book. If they stick around long enough, they’ll buy the book.

In addition to that, I’ve put it out for some reviews in various places, and am doing the occasional interview with nice people, like what’s happening right in this sentence.

I’m avoiding the HARD SELL, because I just think it’s a bad vibe in 2009. I’ve made the first 55 pages available as a free download, with more to come.

I’m also writing what might be called a spin-off or companion book that I’ll be giving away in whole as a free e-book. It’ll also be available as a paperback through Amazon.

PRELUDE TO A SUPER AIRPLANE: The Soundtrack. What three songs would have to be on a soundtrack for PRELUDE?
Funny you should ask this, because there already is a soundtrack to Prelude. There’s a link to it inside, and readers are asked to listen to it during one section of the book. I have three composer friends who put it together for me - Dan Coe, Rob Gokee, and Kevin Samuels. They’re also characters in the book.

If you were asking for songs that are already out there, I’d go “All These Things That I’ve Done” (The Killers), “The Imperial March” (John Williams – from Star Wars), and definitely, 100%, without failure, “Welcome to the Jungle” (Guns N’ Roses).

If you’ve read the book, this last one is obvious.

What has been the response from readers for PRELUDE?
Really, really, good actually. I mean, most of the feedback I’ve gotten so far is from people who’ve been reading my work for a long time, so they totally “get” me. They accept my use of improper contractions, such as “who’ve”.

A couple people who aren’t exactly in the demo for it have said it’s clever, the story kept them engaged, and it was worth reading.

As mentioned earlier, you are a screenwriter. Talk to us about your screenwriting journey - what has been some of the highlights?
The absolute highlight was being able to get my first feature produced, Who Shot Mamba?. As a bonus, to have it come out good was phenomenal. It was a battle to get done, and there were plenty of times any sane person would’ve given up.

I mean, other than that, there are a ton of highs and lows. The second week I was in LA, somehow I was pitching a movie to one of the producers of Forrest Gump. I was sure I had made it, right? That didn’t work out.

When I got my first agent was cool. Then the second agent was less so. The third one you realize you’re gonna be doing as much for yourself as they are, so the coolness wears off.

The low lights are any of the times you talk to your friends who are lawyers and/or other successful things, and get those brief moments of self-doubt.

Overall, I’m one of those people who will never be satisfied, so I really don’t get too high or too low. Not that I don’t love the book to death, but already I’m kinda like, “Well, I wrote a book. That was fun - what’s next?”

Since starting your journey, what have you learned about screenwriting and the business that you think aspiring screenwriters should know?
It’s not easy, nobody’s gonna go out of their way to help you, most people are lying about what they have going on, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme, and if you only have one idea, don’t bother. It just doesn’t work like that.

Also, as soon as you can, do two things. One, spend time on a real movie set. You can do this by doing work as an extra. I’m sorry - I mean as a “background actor”. See how it all works. Learn everything you can.

Two, produce a short film with someone who knows what they’re doing. Seeing your work go from page to screen will change everything about the way you write from a technical standpoint – especially once it’s been edited. I stress this…make sure it’s someone who knows what they’re doing.

I wrote a post about this on my blog, as well – I am a wealth of information!

Also, don’t make your first screenplay about “a struggling writer trying to make it, and he has problems with his job and girl/boyfriend”.


If you had the opportunity to do the journey all over again, what would you do differently?
I know this sounds cliché, but nothing. I mean, I could go through and pick points at which I could say, “ooh…that was a bad idea,” but overall, it is what it is. My brain doesn’t really function like that.

Word Association. What comes to mind when you see the following words:
MOVIES: Back to the Future
AIRPLANES: Sailboats
NOVELS: Apples

Ultimately, what was your purpose to writing PRELUDE?
The ultimate goal is a movie version. I think it’s not just a killer movie, but a killer movie trilogy. If you’ve read the book, you know I’ve got the whole thing mapped out. Also, it’s a way to update the Airplane! franchise without actually remaking that movie, which would be a mortal sin. PTSA would work as a spiritual, or even direct, sequel of sorts.

You also know I’m fully aware the extra “book-writing step” is perhaps unnecessary, but this is how the story came out of me this time. The creative process is a weird thing.

Do you think you'll venture back into the novel writing realm?
Ehhh…if I do, it’ll be like this time, i.e. unexpected. I may write a book on the making of my first film, though.

What's currently going on in your writing life?
Have a small independent screenwriting job I’m finishing up this month, and I’m writing that companion/tie-in book to PTSA, called Brad Radby’s Brad Radby.

Brad was a film director character in PTSA, and this is his complete filmography, in his own words, allegedly written in 2023, eleven years after the events of PTSA.

It’s not really a novel, so I didn’t actually lie in question 14. Thanks so much for doing this – it was fun!


Kim Plaintive said...

Shaq, let's hug! That was a great interviewing!

Shonell Bacon said...

ONE of the funniest things said in the interview, lol