Friday, July 16, 2010

By Fire, By Water IV

Luke Ford writes:

I just finished reading this terrific new novel by Mitchell James Kaplan.

We talk by phone today.


“Afterward, I went up to him and he greeted me and he agreed to read my first attempt at a novel. And he loved it. He sent me this beautiful letter, saying he didn’t know if this book would be published or not but that I write beautifully and I have the stuff of a novelist and he’s going to show it to his editor just in case. The editor did reject it. I was devastated. I still have that letter [from William Styron]. I needed it to continue with this dream though I did take a long detour working in the film industry.

“I think William Styron was responding to that I take immense pleasure in the manipulation of words.”

Luke: “Why did you spend so much time in the film industry?”

Mitchell: “I came back to America with my wife. We came to Los Angeles for my sister’s wedding under the auspices of my father’s counsel. I didn’t have enough money to get back to France, which I considered my home.

“I just happened to know someone who knew someone who was just starting to make a movie called The Couch Trip. They hired me as a PA. The director, Michael Ritchie, and I hit it off and I ended up working for him for several years. I ended up working on screenplays. I sold several of my own. None were produced but we made some decent money. I learned a lot about dramaturgy and how to develop characters. The other stuff I thought I had learned earlier in my life about style stayed in the background.”

Luke: “There’s nothing like a screenplay to learn discipline and structure.”

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