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Interviews

Exclusive Book Pipeline interviews with emerging authors and playwrights.

Ann Meyers Drysdale and Joni Ravenna

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Ann Meyers Drysdale’s biography You Let Some Girl Beat You?, written by Joni Ravenna, placed as a runner-up in the 2020 Book Pipeline Adaptation season. As someone who’s pretty fluent in sports—and I admit this painfully aware of my own sports history shortcomings—I wasn’t all that familiar with Ann’s background. But it’s a legitimately extraordinary one. It’s a story that captures a specific time period, but is timeless in its messaging. Outside of the checkboxes required of a biography, what were some of the primary ideas you wanted to get across? How did you see this translating to screen? Ann Meyers Drysdale (AMD): From what I remember, first, just convincing me to do my story in the first place! I wasn’t sure in the beginning how and what we wanted to say. Personally, I was uncomfortable “showing myself” to the world and felt that my sister and other family members had achieved…

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Amy B. Scher

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Amy B. Scher won the 2020 Book Pipeline Adaptation season with her memoir This is How I Save My Life, which delved into her battle with late stage Lyme disease, her treatment, and how the experience altered her outlook on living, healing, and moving forward.  Almost immediately after reading the pitch for This is How I Save My Life, we saw so much of this story as a film. By book’s end, it was clearer than ever. The rawness and lighthearted optimism of your voice, the brutal honesty of pain and the path towards recovery, and the perspective of your story that interweaves a certain sense of spirituality and mindset with science—it’s captivating, as personal as a memoir can come. Was there ever a sense of “can I write about myself?” or “do I want to re-live this?” after already having gone through the ordeal? What compelled you to bring this…

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Jenna-Marie Warnecke

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A finalist in the Book Pipeline Fiction competition with her short story Cuddlebug, Jenna-Marie Warnecke is a fiction and (as of 2020) TV writer. Her work has been published in journals and magazines nationwide. The underlying premise of Cuddlebug is so raw with so much universal heart. Where did the idea come from? What was alluring about the world of “professional cuddlers?” A friend of mine referred to my partner at the time as “Cuddlebug,” and I imagined a company of professional cuddlers, going around town comforting people in a physical but nonsexual way. By the time I got the story published, that service existed! I suppose I was prescient enough to foresee this type of gig work, but couldn’t get it out into the world fast enough for everyone else to think I was ahead of my time. My whole process of writing the story was just imagining, what…

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J.L. Willow

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Novelist J.L. Willow exemplifies the definition of “young, emerging writer,” having published two books by the age of 19. Her YA novel Missing Her placed as a finalist in the Book Pipeline Fiction competition for its unique twist on the genre, a premise that hit all the notes for a riveting film or TV series.  Addressing the biggest question first: you’re a freshman in college and have already published two books. . . . Clearly, you’re driven to get your work out there. How did you, in a way, expedite everything? I’ve always been one of those people who has to be constantly busy (sometimes too busy, if you ask my friends and family). I loved getting super involved in clubs and activities, but I also found that I enjoyed having a side project to do at home when I was finished with my everyday activities. It was really therapeutic…

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Tara Stringfellow

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An undeniable writing talent, Tara Stringfellow won the 2019 Book Pipeline Fiction competition with her novel Memphis. Pipeline execs recognized the book for its clear path to film or TV series adaptation and its deeply eloquent story—as epic in scope as it is in historical resonance. Memphis will be released in Spring 2021 by Penguin Random House. You say Memphis was your first attempt at writing fiction (!). Notable, because your sense of prose and style is extraordinary. Since your background is in poetry—you published your first poem at 10?—that would naturally play a part in this ability to tell such a rich story, but how crucial was having that foundation before making the leap to fiction? Oh, it was everything. With poetry, your entire message, the duende of the poem, the catharsis of the readers all needs to fit in the space of a few lines. I spent years—years—trying to master this…

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Lee Matthew Goldberg

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A finalist in both the Book Pipeline and Script Pipeline competitions, Lee Matthew Goldberg has balanced his career as both a novelist and a screenwriter. Amongst a number of published works, including his Book Pipeline finalist novel The Mentor, Lee has had fiction in The Adirondack Review, Verdad Magazine, BlazeVOX, and others. Next on the horizon: founding a small publisher, Fringe Press, based in New York City. You’ve placed as a finalist in Script Pipeline with a TV pilot, in Book Pipeline with your novel The Mentor. . . you have a range in genre and formats that not many writers have. Besides the obvious shift in technicalities, what are the marked differences in transitioning between writing novels and writing screenplays or TV scripts? Do you find any of the mediums “easier?” Does the creative development process change from one to the other? Thanks! I’m really trying to be a double…

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Greg Edwards and Andy Sandberg

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Both Andy and Greg bring a wealth of theater and writing experience to their contest-winning play Application Pending, a marvelously penned one-woman comedy set against the backdrop of an elite Manhattan private kindergarten—a story that, for Book Pipeline execs, had doubtless potential as a TV series. I wouldn’t know where to begin when it comes to your backgrounds in theater—from writing to producing to directing to acting. . . . The reality is few of “The Aspiring” get a chance to attempt half of what you both have already accomplished. What were the career-defining moments for each of you before you become playwrights and involved in theater? AS: Like most, we both started as actors. I continued acting professionally my first few years out of college, but I had started directing and writing as early as high school, and when you write or direct in high school and college, you…

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Paula Pedene and Doug Williams

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Paula Pedene, with writer Doug Williams, penned her provocative story as a whistleblower working for the Phoenix VA hospital. The pitch for Veteran’s Day won over Book Pipeline judges immediately, as it’s a stark admission of corruption and self-serving greed in one of America’s most critical institutions.  Paula, while there’s no fair way to summarize Veteran’s Day in a soundbite, give us the overview. What prompted you to call out the deception of certain execs in the Phoenix VA system? PP: I just couldn’t stand by and let them continue to hurt our veterans and our staff. As a long-time Phoenix VA employee, I had worked hard to help build it into a “top performing hospital.” Now when we could have been healing from the prior missteps of the former director, we were being thrown into another mess. I cared so much about the staff and patients, we just had…

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Choon-Ok Harmon and Ana Rodriguez

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Finalists in the 2018 Book Pipeline season, Choon-Ok Harmon and Ana María Rodríguez teamed up for The Iron Butterfly: Memoir of a Martial Arts Master, detailing Choon-Ok’s rise to the highest-ranking woman in Kuk Sool Won, a traditionally male-dominated form of martial arts. The Iron Butterfly is a fantastic memoir. Thoroughly motivating. How is it you two joined forces on the book? Ana, what were some of the pieces of Choon-Ok’s life that stood out most—the “clincher,” so to speak, that made you realize you have to write this? COH: Ana María is a Black Belt in my martial arts school. My husband knew she was a writer, and we decided to ask her if she would be interested in writing my story. So, I told her a little about it and she decided that it was unique and needed to be told. AMR: After Choon-Ok introduced me to her…

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Darlene Parris Young

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Finalist in the 2018 Book Pipeline season, Darlene Parris Young’s introspective autobiography Unzipped shines a rare and candid light on an industry most know little about. Her oftentimes heart-wrenching story highlights a crucial time in the NYC world of fashion and the hurdles she faced for decades as a model, compounded by an array of troubles that make her a true survivor. I know the cliff notes version won’t do it total justice, but. . . in a nutshell, what was it like being a fashion fit model in an era immensely different from the present day? Or was it that different? How have you seen the industry evolve from the day you started to now? Concerning social dynamics in the modeling industry, I have seen quite a few changes in the last 50 years. As a fit model, we were called “coat hangers” by trade, as well as being considered independent…

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