Hello all you wonderful people! Today, we have a very special guest here – Brian Trenchard-Smith. And he needs no introduction, if you are a movie-addict as well! Brian has given us some of the lovely movies and is one of the favorite directors of the very famous Quentin Tarantino! He has also presented over 50 trailers from hell.
Am I lucky or am I lucky to have him on the blog? Here’s his interview for his latest release “The Headsmans Daughter“.
- Tell me a bit about yourself and how did you foray into writing?
I’ve directed 42 movies for Cinema, direct to video, and cable television. 12 of them were either written or co-written by myself. The script is the architect’s blueprint, so I try to exert as much influence as possible. I have also made trailers for over 100 movies in a parallel career, which gave me good research into what movie audiences respond to. The Headsman’s Daughter is my first novel. Here’s how it came about.
- How easy or how difficult was it for you to find a publisher for your book?
The Headsman’s Daughter started as fragments of a dream I woke up from in 2004. The fragments represent the basic premise outlined in the first two chapters of the novel. I had no idea what would happen next but thought it was the basis of an intriguing off beat movie. I do a certain amount of creative thinking when I swim, and back then I had access to the pool at UCLA where my wife had a scholarship in the doctoral program. So most days, I would lap for 45 minutes, more elements or a plot twist would come to me, I would jot them down in the changing room, and add them to my noodlings when I got home. Coincidentally water, and water rights, became a key element in the politics underpinning the story. Eventually a screenplay was born that was optioned twice for good money but never made. Financiers required a major twenty year old female star like Scarlett or Keira, etc. They all passed. We could not make firm offers, only offers contingent on financing, and financing was contingent on a letter of intent from the star. And the star rarely reads without a firm offer. Catch 22. I wonder if their agents ever sent them the script.
But to be fair, it may have seemed too wacky a premise for a new young star. After a few years the rights returned to me. I put it aside to concentrate on other work, but it kept gnawing at my liver. So I re-wrote it quite substantially as a novel and sent it to publishers. Those that responded (few) told me 2008/9 was a very bad time for first time authors, and they could not take the risk. Again I put it aside, but Alice kept reminding me of her presence. So late last year I rewrote the novel again, updating the politics and deepening the characterization. I have referred to the book in a number of ways – a genre mash-up/ movie homage in novel form., as if Game Of Thrones met The Bourne Identity on Freaky Friday – A ripping yarn for progressives – A sardonic take on agitprop fiction exploring themes of political corruption, justice, destiny, and timeless love, with a bit of metaphysics thrown in for good measure.
I realize fiction in today’s market is very niche-reader specific, particularly in self publishing, and I am swimming against the tide by combining genres. But I could not keep Alice locked up in my head. She had to come out. I hope she will attract young adult readers of The Hunger Games, Twilight, etc. and people will love Alice as much as I do. However I have tried to make the book a page turner for older readers of multiple genres.
I don’t want to give away too much of the story but in essence Alice, 16th Century girl, becomes entangled in a 21st Century spy drama while a 21st Century girl faces an equivalent conspiracy via a past life transfer to the reign of Bloody Mary. Has there been a glitch in the multiverse, or is Alice insane? Why will intelligence agencies kill to possess her? Are cosmic forces in play to change both past and future? There a some bizarre twists and turns, as the politics and culture of two societies are contrasted.
- Who inspires you or what inspires you to write?
From childhood onwards I have been driven towards creative expression, initially films. Also the “what if’s” of history and the evolution of social customs have been a lifelong fascination of mine. But the kind of movies I am known for (and therefore am sort of pigeonholed in) and the limited budgets of such films preclude the epic sweep of my imagination. A novel has no such restrictions, so I thought I would give it a shot.
- What according to you is the biggest challenge for any writer?
I’m sure it’s the same for every writer in all media – summoning the courage to stare at the empty page till something bubbles to the surface that feels right. Finding the way in to the story or the next scene is key.
- What would be your ideal writing space?
Where I am right now, sitting on my porch looking out at the trees, the bird bath and feeders, watching squirrels and birds compete for seeds, is a good place to start. Then when the juices flow, I move indoors to fewer distractions.
- What advice/tips would you like to give our budding authors?
As a first timer, I would not presume to advise others at my level. But persistence wins in any endeavor.
- Are you working on any other book now? Tell us a bit about it.
I have ideas for the sequel which would follow straight on from the current ending. But I am waiting to see if the volume of readership justifies the time needed. I noodle at my memoirs. But I am not done with film production yet. I do write for Cinema websites occasionally: http://thetalkhouse.com/artist/brian-trenchard-smith/
- What keeps you busy when you are not writing?
Trying to get the next film project up. I may do an action picture in Thailand next year.
- What are the books you grew up reading and how did they shape up your writing career?
Shakespeare, Dickens – grand themes and social nuances, Raphael Sabatini – Boy’s Own adventure, Catch 22. – irony.
- How do you deal with writer’s block?
Vape some herbal remedies, scribble furiously, then see if it makes any sense in the cold light of dawn. It generally shows me the way in or the path through in principle.