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Thursday, 3 August 2017

(AUTHOR INTERVIEW) David Wiener

Today I will be interviewing David Wiener! Enjoy, and remember if you ever want to be interviewed Contact Me

First of all, tell us a little about yourself!

I’m a playwright; in addition to the US, I’ve had plays done in London, in several locations around England, and in Ireland, Wales, Australia, Mexico, Canada, and India. My Literary Internship was at La Jolla Playhouse and, after that was completed, they kept me on as Dramaturgy Associate for several months. I also have a lot of publication credits in the performing arts - a book on movie stunt work, cover and feature articles in American Cinematographer, Producers Guild Journal, Cahiers du Cinema, The Journal of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, The Journal of the Producers Guild, California Magazine, and others. I also enjoy lecturing on theatre and have presented talks at the University of California San Diego, San Diego State University, The Lipinsky Institute, as well as at high schools.

What inspired you to become an author?
I started writing little stories in elementary school and not long after, I found I really enjoyed writing scripts - I did a lot of student films, then moved into live theatre, plays.

What was the main inspiration for your most recent book and or play?

I recently finished up two solo plays, both of them inspired by true stories: one of them is a harrowing story about Hollywood in the 1960s and the other one is about the golden age of ballet in America.

Who influenced you the most in life?


Lots of people but as far as my writing goes, I always remember going up to Mrs. Lutz, my first grade teacher, at the end of the school year and thanking her for teaching me to read.

What is the kindest thing someone has ever said and or done for you?
Too many incidents of kindness to count! And, really, the littlest things, the things we very quickly forget, turn out to be the biggest and most important things of all - maybe the only things that really count - something as small as a smile.

Do you have a favourite author? (Or name a few)
I have lots of favorites, but two I’ve been re-reading recently are Somerset Maugham and Cyril Kornbluth. Maugham because so many of his stories work so well as scripts (he was a hugely successful playwright, so he understood storytelling and dramatic construction); there are some wonderful movies made from his short stories that are nowhere near as well-known as the movies made from his famous novels. And Kornbluth because I like sci-fi and he was so good at science-fiction short stories. He wrote a real masterpiece sci-fi story about a vampire back in the 1950s.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
I never received it, but I read it. Irving Thalberg was chatting with a writer at the MGM commissary one day. “What are you working on right now?” Thalberg asked. “A love story,” the writer said. “Great!” Thalberg replied. “What keeps them apart?”

Did you always want to be a writer and if not what did was the first thing you wanted to be or do?
The focus on writing came along very early and there really haven’t been too many other things I wanted to get into.

Do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, who are your favourite artists?
Not while I write, but before I write - it helps me think of plot lines, dialogue, situations, etc. I like all kinds of music, but mostly jazz from the 40s and 50s, bossa nova, classical orchestral and choral works, some show tunes, and Great American Songbook stuff. I really like vinyl; I enjoy going to thrift stores and estate sales and also Amazon to find records I want. And some film scores, especially composers like Lalo Schifrin, Jerry Goldsmith, Miklós Rózsa, John Barry.

What helps you write when you're stuck and or have writer's block?

Patience. Time. Just wait, it’ll come.

After a long day of writing etc, do you have a favourite tv show you like to watch?

Funny thing, I pretty much stopped watching TV and going to movies and stuff like that about 20 years ago or so. It really helped my writing, but it might not work for everyone.

What are you working on currently?

Well, I’ve got two solo plays completed, so I’m making notes for multi-character plays now. Solo shows are wonderful (and they’re certainly less expensive to produce!) but you really have to have the right material, subject, and approach for a compelling solo play. That’s a tough combination to find!

When you're not writing, or working, what do you like to do?

Occasionally lecture, which is fun but kind of grueling, if you’re going to do it right - a good lecture is kind of like performing a solo play, which is really tiring if you’re not used to it! On my “off” time, I listen to music, read, exercise, and I enjoy researching really well-crafted movies and also live TV. (I used to do a lot of in-depth research and interviews for my articles in “American Cinematographer” magazine, making-of type stuff.) You can learn a whole lot about playwrighting from golden age live TV productions; a number of the best ones are available on DVD and YouTube. It’s amazing what they were able to do in some of those live productions.

What are some of your most favourite books of all time?

I think the one that made a huge impression on me was “The Time Machine” by H. G. Wells.

What are some of your most favourite plays/films of all time?

Well, I recently found “The Star Wagon” by Maxwell Anderson on YouTube; this is a 1966 television production that you can also get on the DVD Broadway Theatre Archive. Dustin Hoffman, just seconds before he became a huge star and a practically forgotten actress named Joan Lorring, who turns in a fantastic performance as the love interest.

Which of your characters do you love the most and why?
Right now, probably the ballerina in my most recent solo play.

Which of your books and or plays are you most proud of?
“The Master Forger” which got very good reviews in London and also both of the solo plays.

What is the title of the last book you read/was it good or bad?

“The Winter King,” about Henry VII. I really enjoyed it - kind of like a behind-the-scenes story of a highly successful traitor, usurper, and extortionist. Like Alfred Hitchcock said, "The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture."

What is the title of the last play and or film script you read/was it good or bad?

That would have to be “The Star Wagon” which I enjoyed very much.

Is there anything specific you'd like to try writing about in the future?
Possibly a medical story or a love story.

What is an interesting or hidden talent you have?

The only talent I hope to have and develop is to be kind. Isaac Bashevis Singer said, “Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life.”

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why would you choose it?

Kindness is a super-power!

Is there anything else you'd like my readers to know?

I think you’ve covered it really well!

Where can we find you on social media?

The best way to contact me is just by sending an email: dwiener@ucsd.edu

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