Tag Archives: ITALY

A Conversation with Gregory Earls, author of “Empire of Light”

When Gregory Earls isn’t eating at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, he pays the bills by taking up space at 20th Century Fox in the Feature Post Production Department. He’s a proud graduate of Norfolk State University and the American Film Institute, where he studied cinematography. He’s an award-winning director who has amassed a reel of short films, music videos, and (yes) a wedding video or two. Steadfastly butchering the Italian language since 2002, he hopes to someday master the language just enough to inform his in-laws how much he loves their daughter, Stefania, who was born and raised in Milan, Italy. Gregory currently resides in Venice, California where he goes giddy every time he spots that dude who roller skates and plays the electric guitar at the same time. During football season, he can be found at the Stovepiper Lounge, a Cleveland Browns bar in the Valley where he roots for the greatest football team in the history of Cleveland.

Visit his website at www.gregoryearls.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Gregory. Can you tell us what your latest book, Empire Of Light, is all about?

A: Empire Of Light is kind of a coming of age novel. It revolves around an insecure film school student named Jason and his first trip to Europe. His voyage flips into mad adventure when his vintage Brownie camera magically unleashes all the sex, violence, religion and humor captured on canvas by the infamous artist, Caravaggio. During the journey, he finds the tools he needs to become a confident man and an artist.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Besides Jason, there’s his film school mentor and Cinematography Dean, Howard Edgerton. Edge is an old Hollywood cameraman, and he reminds Jason of an older silver-haired, Cary Grant. He also talks and thinks fast, like he’s in a Howard Hawks film. His idiosyncratic trait is that he’s always tipping Jason a twenty, in hopes that he’ll use it to improve his crappy wardrobe.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: This effort is a bit autobiographical; and it definitely references celebrities behind the camera and in the art world. However, this is an aberration for me. Most of the time, my characters are made up.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: When writing screenplays I’ve been hyper aware of the plot, mostly because you have to be conscious of production logistics (depending on the project). I was a bit loose with having the plot nailed down before beginning Empire Of Light. After being pigeon holed all these years, it was nice to let the plot somewhat develop organically.

Q: Your book is set in Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and Naples. Can you tell us why you chose these cities in particular?

A: Don’t forget Cleveland! Ha! This reminds me of that famous Willie Sutton quote. When asked why he robbed banks Willie replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” Caravaggio doesn’t have a large body of work, but these three cities seem to have the most of ‘em. If I do a sequel, I might have to include Texas, Dublin and Sicily.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Jason is a fish out of water, but he’s trying to evolve and grow some legs. He’s not the “Ugly American,” because the guy attempts to speak the language, even though he butchers Italian like it’s a side of beef. It’s funny and awkward to see him stumble through a new world and try to come out on the other end intact. His life, eventually, depends on him accepting his lot in life and embracing it.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Jason is on the plane headed to Paris. A rude Frenchman sitting behind him has just shaken the hell out of Jason’s headrest in protest of him reclining his seat too far back. A gorgeous flight attendant is on the scene to apply justice.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A:

“There’s my little pyromaniac!”

Goddamn it. Edgerton is here.

Edge has been visiting sets all year, making sure we don’t do anything stupid (i.e. illegal Power Box tie-ins). I turn around and find him leaning on the camera, dressed as if he’s going to visit Hef at the Playboy mansion, fifty years ago.

“Tell me son, just what the hell are you wearing?” he asks, referring to my Flaming Carrot t-shirt.

“The Flaming Carrot? He fights crime while wearing this giant carrot mask with a huge flame shooting out the top of his head.”

“Why you little pervert. I know you little Neanderthals won’t wear ties on set anymore, but do you have to advertise your sick little desires on a t-shirt? This is the AFI! Leave the latent cock imagery for the hippies at NYU. What the hell did you do with that twenty I gave you?”

“You expected me to buy—”

“Would it kill you to wear a pair of chinos and a nice oxford?” he interrupts. “It could be a pink oxford if that turns you on.”

“I’m not gay.”

“Not my business and that’s the whole point, isn’t it?”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Gregory. We wish you much success!

A: Thanks so much for the opportunity! Hope we can do it again someday soon.

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Interview with Bonnie Trachtenberg, author of “Wedlocked”

Bonnie Trachtenburg

Bonnie Trachtenberg worked as Senior Writer and Copy Chief at Book-of-the-Month Club and has written seven children’s book adaptations. She’s also written for three newspapers, and has penned countless magazine articles.Wedlocked is her first novel. She lives on Long Island with her husband, stepchildren, and cats.

Please visit her blogs at:

http://www.BonnieTrachtenberg.com

http://www.Wedlockedthenovel.com

and on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/WritebrainedNY

Q: Thank you for this interview, Bonnie. Can you tell us what your latest book, Wedlocked: A Novel, is all about?

A: Wonderful to be here. Wedlocked is the witty, engaging tale of a struggling actress named Rebecca Ross, who, after years of disappointment and heartache, finds herself catapulted into a disastrous marriage and onto a honeymoon from hell. Readers will find that the story is like a wild ride through Rebecca’s life, featuring zany, memorable characters; unique, unpredictable plotting; and lots of humor.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Rebecca starts out as a perfectionist Pollyanna and talented overachiever but gets taken down quite a few notches by her experiences in life—so much so that she begins to doubt everything she’s ever believed and is compelled to make a desperate decision. Rebecca does what her dictatorial mother, an overzealous convert to Judaism, has always wanted her to do: she marries a Jewish man, namely Craig Jacobs. Craig is charismatic and persistent but brash and defiant too, and he comes into Rebecca’s life like a hurricane. But it’s not until her wedding day that she begins to realize just how wacky and destructive a man he is—and just wait for the honeymoon!

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: The characters in Wedlocked are closely based on real people, as the story is based on my first brief and calamitous marriage. Some characters are composites and most were amplified—but not all! I guess you could say that with a few changes, Rebecca is really me. In fact, friends who have read the book say they hear my voice in their heads when Rebecca narrates.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: In this case I was very consciously aware of the plot since it was inspired by actual events from my life. In my second novel, which is in the editing phase, I used an idea that had been marinating in my mind for a while. However, in both cases, I found that the stories took unexpected turns as I wrote.

Q: Your book is set in New York, Los Angeles and Italy. Can you tell us why you chose these places in particular?

A: I’ve lived in both New York and Los Angeles and therefore have a great affinity and good knowledge of both. Many of my life experiences can be tied to places and events in both cities. I chose Italy because I’ve been there three times and find it to be a paradise. What better place to set a disastrous honeymoon? Especially since that’s where mine took place.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Yes, all three settings are like characters in what they offer and how they each affect Rebecca’s life. They also lend a certain richness to the story that only location can.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Rebecca is about to shoot her first national commercial and is practicing her lines. She wants to make sure absolutely nothing goes wrong since, thanks to her, all her other career opportunities have gone down the drain. Of course something will go wrong, but this time it will be totally out of her control.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: Sure. This is from the prologue and sets the stage for what’s to come:
“As we were announced into a resplendent ballroom filled with enthusiastic guests, it was as if a UFO had plucked me out of my should-be life, only to plop me down in some sort of bizarre alternate universe. For it had been less than a year earlier that I was this close to seeing my dreams of fame, fortune, and romance come to fruition, when they exploded in my face like a cruel joke.

With Craig’s hand gripping mine, and the Starbright Orchestra’s lead singer channeling Frank Sinatra, the glorious, Gatsby-esque room that had so enchanted me, began spinning even faster than my shell-shocked, post-nuptial brain. What some brides know is that when you find yourself sashaying down the aisle on what’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life, things can sometimes turn bafflingly surreal. Sensing something’s terribly amiss, you chalk it up to jitters, refusing to acknowledge a most unpleasant fact: the man standing before you in white tie and tails is far from the soul mate you hoped for.

If I could have seen this truth in real time, I like to think I would have mustered the courage to make a mad bolt from the chapel. But I was thirty-six—trampled, lost, and romantically bankrupt—so the only thing running away that day was the train I was riding, and I kept my seat, although I was destined to wreck.” —from Wedlocked: A Novel

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Bonnie. We wish you much success!

A: It was a pleasure. Thank you!

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