7 Questions With Author Stuart Land
During Stuart Land’s Hollywood film career, he learned screenwriting firsthand by taking courses from now famous gurus. He designed and sculpted on many films and talked with famous directors, producers, and actors to learn from them.
He created sculpture for theme parks, like Disney, Universal Tours, and hotels worldwide. And Stuart was a top union sculptor and designer for special effects, sets and props in Hollywood movies with work in over 30 major films, including Aliens, Predator, The Abyss, Poltergeist 2, Beetlejuice, Independence Day, and many others (listed IMDB, International Movie Database).
Stuart has completed 20 screenplays, so far. To explore character and narrative more, he took up prose fiction and published 8 novels (soon to be 14). Recently, he finished the first book (of two) of an historical biography, Currents of War, about a German Jew escaping Nazi Germany before and during WW2. Now, he’s reediting his vampire series, Original Blood, writing the 5th book, and creating all the covers. The novel Stuart just finished, Until Love, will launch when he’s finished creating the cover. It’s a romdramedy.
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Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your journey?
I closed my eyes to think back… but fell asleep. Well, I woke with a clear memory of what I did right and not so right. I write in many genres: paranormal, horror, crime, action adventure, thriller, comedy, speculative, sci-fi. I would tell others to stick to one genre that you love for a few years to get yourself known and develop your skill.
The right part was that I learned screenwriting first. It’s not necessary to learn screenwriting, but it helps immensely with characters, dialogue, plotting, structure, etc. When I switched over to pros fiction writing, it was much easier. In screenwriting—I started before the Internet—but used a green screen computer. I put all notes on 3 x 5 cards and arranged them on walls and floors. My cat liked that because cats like to sleep on paper. Because I did this so much, by the time I wrote novels, I didn’t need to do that anymore. I could make a general outline, then go from the beginning and write till the end. I could be a plotter and pantser at the same time.
What I wish I had learned, was about readers. For me, it was about business vs artistry. I am an artist first. That’s what motivates me. It has also hurt me financially. To start out again, I would understand a couple of things about people in general. Most are drawn to the same thing, even though they want something original. It has to be the same, but original. This puts all artists in a narrow loop. In writing fiction, stories that are based on series are what is selling now. Many writers can take the same characters and rework similar stories over and over for a long run. Financially, I would create a series to support my other writing that is not a series.
What should readers expect from your next novel?
Until Love is a romdramedy (romantic drama and comedy) about a woman reporter and the woman presidential candidate falling for each other. It’s edited and I’m working on the cover, then it will launch. This is a compelling story about love, politics, and relationships. The story is for all, not only gay or lesbian readers because there is an assortment of characters.
The story was originally a screenplay I wrote in 2003, before any woman at that time successfully ran the course for president. There were a couple who did run in 2000 and 2004, but dropped out before a caucus or primary. Because of this, no production company would touch this story. They were certain that the USA would never have a woman or any gay people in congress, much less, the presidency. So now, check out whose running, and who has made it into congress. Some things have changed.
When I wrote this as a novel this past year, I added characters and extended the story. However, the main political aspect of the story is almost the same as it was 16 years ago. Unfortunately, that was a little creepy. For a book that is completely different, Until Love shines a new light.
I’m continuing my vampire series, Original Blood. It will be the 5th book. Each book is based on characters that are part of a continuing saga. But they are told in the first person of that particular character. So we know about all the previous characters, and don’t lose touch with any of them. However, the point of view, and the style changes from each character. These stories are time-based. The present time is told in first person, but the past is 3rd person, and still about the main character.
We all know this industry is full of surprises. Can you share an unexpected experience?
I get a lot of strange experiences. Here are three. A major TV producer of two popular shows read my novel, Back from the Dead: the true sequel to Frankenstein, and wanted to make it into a movie. All the papers were agreed upon, then a new movie came out based on a similar subject, but was so bad, the critics hates it, so my project was cancelled, even though they were nothing alike.
I have a screenplay based on children. It won the grand prize in two contests. No production company wanted a story about children. Then Stranger Things came out and was a success. Then my problem was that my children lived in the 1800s.
My new novel, Until Love, had a different name. The original name was Politics of Love. This was on my screenplay copyrighted in 2003. Titles are not copyrightable. Usually, authors check Google to see if anyone has used their title. Mine was listed as a novel on my Website since November of 2018, and Facebook since March. In April, a presidential candidate used my title for her new book.
For myself, I was in the middle of my second vampire book when I got an idea for sci-fi book. I stopped to write down the idea… three months later I finished it. Then had figure out where I was in the vampire book so I could finish that.
What’s the best advice/feedback on writing you’ve ever received?
For me, the best advice was from Stephen King. Well, he didn’t tell me personally. He said: Start at the beginning and write till the end. Don’t worry about pages or word count. Tell the story. Use your characters. Let the characters tell the story, not the author. I know and believe that my characters understand the story better than me. They always find a way to complete their story. That is how I write.
There are a lot of experts behind the novel, editors, developmental editors, proofreaders, beta readers, etc. How did you find your perfect crew?
I have the best editor, ever! She is EJ Runyon. Her website is www.facebook.com/BridgetoStory/ She is the most genuine, intelligent editor, and a fine person I have found. She can help you without telling you how to write your story, but gives great advice. She sees everything. Being a writer doesn’t make the author the best editor. All authors need a great editor. EJ is the best.
I don’t have a crew. I wish I did. A few people do read everything I’ve written and give their unbridled advice, which is good. Beta readers are hard to come by for me. Many don’t complete the task they volunteered to do, which is read the book and give opinions. The best beta readers I’ve had, were the young teens who read my book about children, Daughters, to see if my characters spoke and acted like the children of their age. They all finished the book and gave opinions. Lucky for my characters, they all like the book and had no problem with the children and who they were and how they talked. However, some adults didn’t have the same opinion about how intelligent children are.
I’m always looking for beta and arc readers.
Many authors have experienced trolling or cyberbullying upon publishing their manuscripts. Could you share your experience & some useful advice for all authors going through this?
I’ve had this happen to me. I had a book come out with the same title as another book in the same week. He went ballistic. I checked Google and there was no title like mine. He went to my other books and left negative reviews. I found out from Amazon that they would do nothing for me. However, another reviewer who was well known, wrote to Amazon and complained about this guy. They deleted his comments. For a while, he stopped. Then he got his friends to do the same on some of my books. Some comments were deleted, but some stay up. It’s pretty obvious when there is one star against all five or four stars.
The other things readers bully me, as an author, is writing about women, or gays, or politics, or culture, or genders, or history. I know a lot about these things because I live in a multifaceted world. These readers show how uneducated and opinionated they are, that they only see life from their one perspective, and if mine doesn’t agree with theirs, they throw all their negativity right at me.
Negative feedback from people who have actually read my novels is fine. Not everyone likes the same stuff. It only bothers me when they get their facts wrong. And the worst, is when they give spoilers to a mystery or thriller. Most people read these, which can ruin the outcome of the story. Even worse, is that their conclusions are mostly wrong. Many people believe that giving a synopsis is the same as a review. It’s not.
Because of how most review sites are set up, there is generally no way to combat a negative review. You can’t argue with the reviewer because it makes you look bad. It’s a crazy world.
Just how much research is there behind a novel? Tell us how it looks behind the scenes.
My novels take a lot of research. I strap myself into my chair, put on googles, lean into the Internet, and blaze through reams of virtual pages and websites gleaning information unknown to me. This makes an author eat and drink a lot. Ha! When I started, there was no Internet, so I had to spend time at libraries and book stores. They don’t let you eat. Now I can surf in my all-together and munch away.
I write in different genres and each has things I need to research. Much of what I write about I know from world travel and meeting people from many races, cultures, and nationalities. For this present novel, Until Love, all the characters I understood because I’ve met and knew people like them. They are not one real person, but a combination of people.
The research was in the political area. Even though I had a basic knowledge of politics living ten blocks from the White House and knowing people who worked in the government, I needed more intimate knowledge about how things worked. This took a huge amount of time to figure out. And you find out about political figures and their interesting stories that doesn’t make the headlines. So my story is drama with lots of comedy, but all the political stuff is accurate.
My vampire stories go from present to back in time, so all the history has to be accurate. You learn a lot about blood-drinking entities on the Internet. Even vampire history has to be based of real life theories for me to conceptualize my own vampire history. All my stories in every genre have a lot of research. There is no way I can write a book a month.
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And check out Lost in Amber: An Out Of This World Paranormal Romance if enjoy girl power, adventure & a toe-curling love story.
She just wanted to mope over her breakup but the universe had other plans for Zoey Mills.
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