Emma Pullar Is Having An EPIC Year

Emma Pullar Is Having An EPIC Year

Emma Pullar is a writer of both dark fiction and children’s books. Her picture book, Curly from Shirley, was a national bestseller and named Best Opening Lines by NZ Post. Emma also writes twisted tales under the speculative fiction umbrella.  Her debut novel, Skeletal, was published in Autumn 2017.  It’s part of a duology and Book Two will be published soon, Summer 2018.   As a citizen of both Britain and New Zealand, Emma Pullar has a unique take on the world.  Her uniqueness is evident in the stories she crafts.

Emma Pullar

In fact, if you’re a fan of  horror, dystopian, sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal, Emma Pullar has a lot of unique stories she wants to share with you.  Her favourite authors are CS Lewis, Roald Dahl, Suzanne Collins, Stephen King, Julia Donaldson, Dr Seuss, Phillip K Dick, JK Rowling, George Orwell, L V Hay and GX Todd.   In fact, it was in Lucy V Hay’s online writing group, Bang2Writers, where I first met Emma.  What a pleasure it was to interview her.  I have admired her forthright demeanor and driven work ethic for years.  It’s time for you to admire her along with me.

JON MEYERS:  Hi Emma, thank you so much for granting me this interview.  It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of your straightforward attitude, and unwillingness to ever give up.  Tell me a little about your writing process.  Not the nuts-and-bolts of it — but the emotional component of it.  Describe how you feel ten minutes before you actually sit down to write — and the shift that happens as you write the first word, the first sentence, the first page.

EMMA PULLAR:  Hi Jon, thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog.  Well, what an interesting question. To be honest I hadn’t thought about what happens directly before and as I begin to write. After I’ve dropped the kids to school, I come home and make tea and toast. I can’t write anything before that. I have the same breakfast every morning before I write. Tea because I’m British and it’s what we do and NZ Marmite on toast because I’m also a Kiwi and can’t stand UK Marmite. After that I check my emails and then I’m ready to write.

I start by reading back the paragraph I wrote the day before and once I’ve done that I’m in the zone. The real world is forgotten and I’m standing next to my protagonist experiencing everything with her/him. I often feel like a puppet and the words are coming from somewhere else – a separate consciousness or something strange like that.
When I write at night, the process is different and more often than not I can only write longhand. Sun up is for the keyboard, sundown belongs to the notepad. I hope that makes sense.

JM:  Thanks, Emma — THIS is fascinating.  I’ve never heard anything like that.  So cool.  Plus, I was actually going to ask about longhand vs. typing — and you kind of already answered that.  Very cool.

Emma Journal 1
(Above) This is an excerpt from a first draft in Emma Pullar’s longhand writing from a still-unnamed short horror story yet to be published.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JM:  My next question has to do with the “business side” of the business.  Tell us how you feel when you’re talking to your agent (and how you got that agent in the first place), how you feel when you’re in a meeting, etc.  What’s the process you used when you were starting out?  Did you send out ten queries or one hundred?  How did you know where to send them?  Stuff like that.

EP:  I met my agent in a rather unusual way. I had a baptism of fire into the writing industry when my first publisher embezzled my royalties which were meant to go to charity. I was informed that out of the $17K my picture book made, $11K (after publishing expenses) should have gone to my chosen charity but instead the publisher put the money back into her business. She bit off more than she could chew and then folded the publishing house, owing money to authors and printers.

I can forgive a lack of judgement, we’ve all made mistakes in our lives that we wish we had handled differently but she cut communication and sent out a seven page document in which she blamed the authors for the failure of her business and tried to discredit me.

I’d met a few of the other authors at a meeting before the publishing house went bust and we formed an online support group after we found out the horrible truth.

One of the authors caught my attention. He was friendly, talented and had a string of books published already. He’d found himself an agent and kindly put in a good word for me. I’m forever grateful to him, and even though I was not at all ready to be published, Vicki (my agent) saw my potential and took me under her wing.

Finding an agent is tricky. I’ve crossed paths with a few (online and through pitching opportunities) and my work wasn’t right for any of them but when I met with Vicki in London (she lives in New Zealand so our conversations are mostly by email) I instantly liked her. We get on extremely well and have a friendly, laidback working relationship.
Vicki is open to me networking with publishers alongside her efforts to find the right deals for my work. I have a few exciting projects Vicki is passionate about that are currently on submission. Fingers crossed we’ll see a deal for them soon.

JM:  Yes!  Awesome.  I love your answers by the way.  I love interviewing fascinating inspiring women!!!   Talk to my readers about you, Emma Pullar, and your life, pre-Vicki, pre-published, pre-Skeletal  — as compared to Emma Pullar today, post-all-those-things.

EP:  I’ve always been a writer. When I was a little girl, I was often found scribbling stories and I’ve never stopped. I had no desire to have my work published because when I was eleven I was told I would never be good enough and sadly, I believed that as an adult. How wrong they were.
I also spent ten years of my life on stage and wanted to dance for a living. Unfortunately, I developed a knee complaint in my teenage years and needed surgery. Another dream shattered.  After that, I drifted through life working in any jobs I could get: bookshops, toy shops, offices, real estate. I ran theatre companies and enjoyed that, but it wasn’t really for me. I got married and had three children. I’ve always worked part-time alongside motherhood but never really knew what to do with my life.

“At thirty-one, when my youngest daughter was only a few months old, a deadly earthquake devastated our city and killed 185 people. That natural disaster triggered something inside me. “

— Emma Pullar

At thirty-one, when my youngest daughter was only a few months old, a deadly earthquake devastated our city and killed 185 people. That natural disaster triggered something inside me.  The first thing I did was write the event out of my system and it was then I realized … I AM A WRITER. It does not matter that I had little in the way of a formal education, that I can’t spell and my grammar/punctuation is dismal. I must teach myself. People are dead, their journey has ended. I need to do this to honour their memory, otherwise, I don’t deserve to be alive.

To answer the question of how life compares before I became a professional storyteller and now … although seven years on, we’re still struggling to get over the mess that earthquake left our lives in, I’m now doing what I should be doing — what I should have been doing all along. I’m peacefully walking my path, my career unfolding like the petals of a rose. Sunshine and room to grow provided by the amazing people I have met along the way: my agent, publisher, mentor, readers and my writing buddies. I’m grateful to finally be doing what I should be doing, as opposed to doing what others expected of me. As a child, I wanted to be a dancer, a writer and Prime Minister. Having ticked off the first two, I have no interest in doing the last one. I much prefer being ruler of my fictional worlds, though I must admit, I’m not always in control of the story, the characters often surprise me.

JM: I love your answers. They inspire me.  Next question, Prime Minister Pullar: Give us a recent example of how one of your characters really surprised you.
EP:  Interesting question. The character who most surprised me has to be Bunce from Skeletal. Going from his safe and comfortable life to the rough streets of Gale City was a real shock to his system, and yet, he didn’t run home to mummy and daddy after the horrors he experienced, and everything he did was out of admiration and love for someone who really didn’t deserve his attention. He found the courage to carry on and when hope was lost, he made the choice the stop suffering. I was surprised by him every step of the way and he still has a few surprises left for readers in the sequel. It’s not what they’re expecting and certainly not what I expected to happen!
JM:  Great answer!!! I love that. I can tell you connect with your characters so deeply.
Speaking of deep connections, you’ve written a book with your daughter.  Tell us about how this new book came to be. Not just about how you wrote it together, but how you pitched it to your agent, and so on.
beth and mom
Emma, Rupert, and Beth Pullar
EP:  Ah, great question.  My new picture book, Kitty Stuck, never went on submission. I showed it to my agent and she thought it was great but she was in the middle of opening a new agency and extremely busy. At the same time, I was in talks with Amy Stretch-Parker who wrote a delightful picture book called: Peter Digs A Den. Amy had never written a picture book before and one of our mutual friends, Rachael Howard, decided it would be a good idea for us to connect. Having one picture book under my belt which hit number four on the national bestseller list in New Zealand, I knew I could help Amy. I gave her a tips and advice and she was super grateful (there’s more to books written in rhyme than people think, it’s tricky to get the flow just right) and after that I watched with interest as Amy’s book became a reality. Amy sent me an ebook version and I was surprised to see my name mentioned in the acknowledgements. In my mind, I did very little, Amy is a talented writer and Peter Digs A Den is a fun book. I bought a copy for my kids. They loved it. The quality of the book was up there with the bigger publishers and soon many writers wanted to be published by Amy, so she opened her own publishing house called A Spark in the Sand.
kitty-cover_orig
EP:  I had so many projects on the go but I wondered what Amy would think of Kitty Stuck. I asked for her advice and she came back with some tips, as I had done for her, and then she offered to publish the book! You can imagine the shock. I was not expecting her to say that at all! At the same time, I’d asked my eldest (Beth, who spends all her spare time drawing and practicing different art styles) to draw Kitty. She did and I was blown away with the result.
beth
Beth Pullar, Illustrator
EP:  I sent her work to Amy. She also thought Beth was an amazing illustrator and asked if she would be interested in illustrating the book. Beth jumped at the chance. She’s saving up for some professional Copic Sketch Markers and a tablet of her own — at the moment she share’s the family one. I did a small favour for a friend of a friend and ended up with a book deal, an awesome new friend, and an amazing opportunity for my daughter.
JM:  Wow.  What a great story.  Thank you so much for your time, Emma.  As expected, you were great.
EP:  Good luck with it all, Jon. This has been a fab experience.
Want to purchase Emma Pullar’s books?  Go here:   www.emmapullar.com
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REBEKAH FIESCHI HAS SOME BIG NEWS FOR YOU

REBEKAH FIESCHI HAS SOME BIG NEWS FOR YOU

***SCOOP***

I can’t reveal the exact date (but soon, very soon); however, director/gender fairness advocate Rebekah Fieschi has some exciting news to share — and she’s letting ME tell YOU, my loyal readers, FIRST!!!

This is an especially sweet moment for us, as some of you were complicit in helping Rebekah get past the 500 follower mark on her Seed & Spark campaign for Sylphvania Grove last year.  Which leads us to our big news…

Sylphvania Grove is out of color correction, and THERE GOING TO BE AN ACTUAL TRAILER!!!  And YOU get to be among the first to see it!!!

Better yet, to add even more excitement to this already exciting event, I am in the middle of another interview with Rebekah and will be releasing it HERE to coincide with the release of the trailer.

If you’re new to this blog, or to Rebekah Fieschi, below are some links to get you up to speed with the wonder that is Sylphvania Grove — including a link to my previous interview with Rebekah which believe it or not was almost a year ago at this point.

Be sure to follow me on all of my social media platforms, as well as Rebekah Fieschi, so you don’t miss when the trailer release date is announced.

 

LINKS

 

REFRESHING YOUR MEMORY ABOUT SOILED DOVES

REFRESHING YOUR MEMORY ABOUT SOILED DOVES

Remember earlier in the year, when you, my loyal readers, helped put TeamRAD‘s Soiled Doves over the top during their crowdfunding campaign?  Well we have so many new readers who have joined us since then, I thought I would refresh everyone’s memories, so you could refresh your browsers’ bookmarks by adding all the links to Soiled Doves.

Plus, November is going to be a big month for this project, so I thought I would bring it back to front-of-mind for everybody.

TeamRAD consists of Verity Butler, Rebecca Holopter, and Darby Kennerly.

teamrad

As you know, the reason I support TeamRAD, and other like-minded women-centric production teams, is that they are committed to making a change for female filmmakers in Hollywood.  This trio in particular is committed to creating complex female characters who are defined by who they are and not their male counterparts. In Soiled Doves, the female characters hold positions of power, are grounded in the real life given circumstances, and have full breaths of life.

SOILED DOVES:  THE STORY

When tragic, unexplainable events occur in the frontier town of Barlowe Springs, California, three very different women are forced to face challenges beyond the hardships of frontier life, and will realize the duality of nature.

With the grit and danger of Deadwood, the supernatural undertones of Twin Peaks, and the female camaraderie of Orange is the New Black, Soiled Doves, a one-hour supernatural western TV show, tells the story of three women embracing their pasts in order to save their town and the ones they love.

 

So, now go.  Connect.  Link.  Bookmark.  Favorite.  Follow.  Do all that social media-y stuff you do.

TeamRAD’s facebook page.

TeamRAD’s twitter page.

TeamRAD’s instagram page.

Watch the SOILED DOVES trailer here.

THE TIDAL WAVE THAT WILL SINK HOLLYWOOD STARTED THIS SUMMER WITH THE PEBBLE DROPPED BY STEVEN SODERBERGH

THE TIDAL WAVE THAT WILL SINK HOLLYWOOD STARTED THIS SUMMER WITH THE PEBBLE DROPPED BY STEVEN SODERBERGH

Every article I read about Steven Soderbergh’s current experiment refers to what “could” happen to Hollywood or what Steven “wants” to change about Hollywood.  But the truth is this:

It already has happened.

Steven Soderbergh has changed Hollywood.

There’s been a ton of press about it, but I believe Jake Coyle does the best job of summing it all up.  Read on:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/01/movies-steven-soderbergh-wants-to-change-hollywoods-game-plan/

Steven Soderbergh wants to change Hollywood’s game plan.  His latest film, ‘Logan Lucky,’ is his model.

By Jake Coyle

“Populist Pictures,” reads the buzzer ID at Steven Soderbergh’s Tribeca office. It’s a grand nameplate on an otherwise nondescript Manhattan building.

But Soderbergh means it.

Four years after dramatically quitting moviemaking, he has re-entered the fray with “Logan Lucky.” He didn’t spend his hiatus crafting a Major Artistic Statement. He long ago lost his taste for “prestige films.”

“Logan Lucky” is a heist movie so similar to his “Ocean’s Eleven” that the down-and-out West Virginia characters in the new film refer to their con as “Ocean’s 7-11.”

“I thought the first line of every review would be, ‘He came out of retirement for this?’ ” Soderbergh says in an interview at the modest office. “Of course my answer to that would have been: The only thing I would have come out of retirement for is to make something like this. I wasn’t going to come out of retirement and not make something fun. Why would I do that?”

And Soderbergh also wants to prove a point. When he said goodbye to the movie business four years ago (and went off, in a filmmaking marathon, to direct every episode of the acclaimed Showtime series “The Knick”), he was fed up with a risk-averse Hollywood, unwilling to innovate, problem-solve or shake up anything.

“Logan Lucky” isn’t just a comeback movie; it’s an experiment. Soderbergh independently financed the film, selling distribution rights for foreign territories to raise the budget, and then making ancillary deals (like Amazon) to pay for prints and ads. While ballooning marketing costs have made little beside franchise films appealing to major studios, Soderbergh believed it would be possible to put out “Logan Lucky” with a more modest marketing approach centered on the 10 days before release and the social-media followings of its stars — notably Channing Tatum.

It’s a way to prove that a broad-appeal movie can be made by a filmmaker with a plan, without the involvement of a committee or corporation.

“I’ve been very vocal about my issues, and it’s an opportunity to learn some stuff, and I’m prepared for any scenario. But at least we got to do it the way we wanted to do it,” says Soderbergh. “And that’s a win. We may learn a lot. I’m hoping it works so I can continue to put my work through this system and have other like-minded filmmakers put their work through this system.

“We don’t need another boutique distributor,” he adds. “This is designed for wide-release movies. This isn’t an art-house proposition.”

Movie financing arrangements are byzantine, but Soderbergh has set up an account that anyone who has put money into the movie can log into and check the movie’s expenses, grosses and their cut. The whole scheme is more than a little like the plot of “Logan Lucky,” in which an out-of-work miner (Tatum) rallies a team to rip off a NASCAR track. A tongue-in-cheek line at the end of the credits reads: “No one was robbed during the making of this film except you.”

Executive producer Dan Fellman, former distribution chief at Warner Bros., says “We don’t know whether it’s going to work or not. We certainly hope like hell it does. … One way or another, we’ll get to prove our point.” Fellman anticipates the film will screen in 2,800 theaters, with many in the industry keenly following the results.

Soderbergh plans other innovations, too. “Mosaic,” his interactive movie for HBO, is coming in November. And with a number of other projects he’s producing, Soderbergh sometimes seems like his own studio head.

He actually spent a year. researching how to put a subscription-based platform together. “I really got pretty granular with it,” he says, but he ultimately decided it would work only if he had a back catalog to give subscribers enough content.

Others appear to be lining up behind him.

“He found a way to do it where it’s on his terms, and he has the control that he wants,” says Adam Driver, who plays the Tatum character’s brother. “His setups move so fast that there’s no momentum lost. He’s very economical about how he shoots. It’s freeing for us as actors. There’s no bull …, no time wasted, so it almost feels like a protest.”

The first-timer credited with the script, Rebecca Blunt, is unknown and may be a pseudonym. Soderbergh will say only she’s a friend’s wife.

And then there’s the question of why anyone who loves moviemaking so much as Soderbergh wanted to quit. He shoots his own films (under the pseudonym Peter Andrews), and he considers editing a day’s shooting his nightly reward. A few years ago, as an editing exercise, he recut films such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Blow-Up” for fun.

When he retired, Soderbergh thought he might dedicate himself to painting, but he acknowledges, “I didn’t get very far in my second career. … When I got back to the set of ‘The Knick,’ it definitely had the sense of: This is your job. This is what you should be doing.’ That was a good thing to feel.

“There are very few things you can do repeatedly that give you the same pleasure as they did the very first time,” he continues. “Figuring something out on set is always a great feeling. That never gets old, when it finally reveals itself to you. … That’s hard to walk away from. I don’t feel like that’s a bad addiction to have.”

       (Photo Credit:  Rick Diamond/GettyImages)

See?  It happened already.  A non-indie major movie with no studio backing opened in 2800 theaters.   It wound up in 3031 theaters.  As of this writing the box office is at $42.5 million.  [UPDATE 10/14: $42,865,483]  The articles that were written about the box office receipts in August, called it a “flop,” but the “flop” was in quotes.  That’s because everyone knew Logan Lucky releases on digital download on November 14, 2017 and then releases on DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray on November 28, 2017.  The studios and the machine have obvious reason to pronounce Soderbergh’s experiment a failure. As of right now, it’s made $10 million profit in the clear.  By the end of the year, however, it will have at least doubled that.  Tens of millions of dollars in the black is nothing at which to scoff. Beholden to no one, Steven Soderbergh proved to the world it could be done.

“It almost feels like protest.”  ~~Adam Driver, actor.

I love that quote from Driver.  I defy anyone to explain to me how it’s not a protest.

Was Logan Lucky a blockbuster?  No.  And I contend it didn’t need to be.  If you found $10 million dollars laying on the sidewalk, would you pick it up?  Of course you would.  Cudos to Soderbergh for having the brains to try to see if this could work.  A $10 million, a $20 million, maybe even more, paycheck — without having to deal with the meddling studio execs — will be hard to ignore by his fellow creatives.

You Can’t Run An Entertainment Blog And Not Mention Taylor Swift’s Face Is On UPS Trucks

You Can’t Run An Entertainment Blog And Not Mention Taylor Swift’s Face Is On UPS Trucks

When I started this entertainment blog, if you would’ve told me I’d be posting an ad for UPS on it in 2017, I would’ve told you that you were cray-cray.  (Actually, I would never use that word in real life conversation, but it seemed appropriate considering the subject of the next sentence.)  However, ever since yesterday, TayTay (see what I did there?) has her face in medium close-up all over the side of UPS trucks.

SPOT.  SNAP.  SHARE.

Taylor Swift wants you to spot one of these trucks, snap a picture of the Swift-faced UPS truck (at a safe distance, she adds) then tag @UPS and share the hashtag #TaylorSwiftDelivery because then you might win “an improved opportunity to buy Swift concert tickets.”   I don’t know what the means, largely because I can’t imagine how anyone could improve upon the opportunity to buy a concert ticket — but if anyone can, Taylor swift can.

CREEPY?  HER?

When the new UPS ad rolled starring Swift some entertainment reporters went agog over Taylor Swift’s “creepy” smirk.  Really?  Sly, perhaps — but there’s nothing on Taylor Swifts unblemished visage that even comes close to creepy.  Nonetheless, here’s the ad if you want to judge for yourself:

I’d love to see you COMMENT in the COMMENTs below and explain to me, how anyone could deem that “creepy.”  Anyone?

TAYLOR SWIFT DOES GIVE A DANG ABOUT HER BAD REPUTATION

Woke internet folks routinely bash Taylor for her Swiftian brand of Nu-Feminism, claiming her Intentional Victim Barbie persona wears thin compared to “true feminists,” such as _____________________ (these bloggers gladly insert their own names here).  If it’s true (and I contend it is not) that Swift’s positions only help herself and not ALL women, tell me exactly how does _________________ (again “true feminist” bloggers gladly insert themselves here) bashing Taylor Swift help the cause?  Okay, now tell me again, because I didn’t get it the first time.

The truth is Taylor Swift doesn’t need me to defend her.  Equally true is the fact that Swift’s detractors have a motivated feminist base that also do a good job furthering the cause; and, they don’t need me to defend them either.   And neither camp needs me mansplaining about anything.

Finally, whether you like this song or not, it will be a hit.  Taylor Swift calls her own shots, and is modeling a canny business acumen at which millions of other young women will take notice.

The actual video for Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” will be released tonight at the MTV Video Awards.  Until then, I leave you last week’s lyric video (which also garnered controversy which I won’t go into here).

 

UPDATE:

TAYLOR SWIFT IS TOO SEXY FOR HER AGENCY

Sure the chorus reminds you of 1992 and Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy For My Shirt,” but that’s on purpose, right?  And sure, the song is infinitely better than the video, right?  However, nonetheless, as mentioned yesterday, Taylor Swift released the actual official video for “Look What You Made Me Do,” last night on MTV’s VMAs.   And it underscores “in red underlined” my point I made yesterday:  Who are YOU to tell Taylor Swift what kind of feminist she needs to be?  Who are any of us to tell her anything?  How is one feminist telling another feminist how to present not counterintuitive and counterproductive to the movement?

SPOILER ALERT:  Though as I mentioned, the song is better than this video, the final forty seconds are the best final moments in a music video since David Bowie got all clever-clever after he just met a girl named Blue Jean…

You can pre-order Taylor Swift’s new album “Reputation,” to be released November 10, 2017, here:  http://amzn.to/2vjmqEX

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BONUS:   Bowie’s unedited full-length “Jazzin’ For Blue Jean.” (1984)

 

 

 

 

FIVE QUESTIONS (OR IS IT EIGHT?) WITH HETTY

FIVE QUESTIONS (OR IS IT EIGHT?) WITH HETTY

Earlier this year, back in April, I had the pleasure of working alongside Nashville’s own folk rock nerd indie darling Hetty.  At that point, she told me the album (a concept album!!!) on which she was working was tentatively going to be released sometime this summer.  At the time, I promised her, I would blog about the album when it was released.

This is where I keep my promise.

FIVE QUESTIONS (OR IS IT EIGHT?) WITH HETTY

JON:  Good afternoon Hetty! Thank you for agreeing to this interview.  Before we talk about your new album, “In Search of the Sea,” I have to ask…  Why one name? Without Google I think I can only come up with a handful of female singers who go by one name — Shakira, Cher, Madonna, Kei$ha, Björk — now Hetty.  Ooh, I forgot Beyoncé — can’t forget Beyoncé. Tell me about your decision to go monomynous.

HETTY:  My first name is so unusual that I thought I could get away with it. But I have found out there is an Indonesian singer also named “Hetty” so our Spotify accounts are all mixed up together. I am trying to fix this.

JON:  Thanks. Makes total sense. I wonder how the Indonesian Hetty feels about it. …Rihanna! Sorry. I remembered another one…. Okay, anyway, moving on…You told me at one point that day when I first met you how you came up with the concept for “In Search of the Sea,” but why don’t you tell my readers. And, two part question, why a concept album?  And, three part question, which came first — the sea theme — or the idea to do a concept album about something?

HETTY:  Yeah, the Indonesian Hetty is probably like, “who is this white girl trying to take my name??” Maybe we will have a sing-off one day.   As far as your first and third question…

JON (interrupts):  It’s not three separate questions — it was three parts of one question !!! Haha.

HETTY: As far as your first and third question…  Many years ago I started noticing that many of my songs mentioned the sea so I decided to start doing it intentionally and begin writing towards a concept album.

HettyCover

HETTY (continued):  The sea is such a big mystery and I think it symbolizes longing and adventure and maybe even calling.  Also, there’s a painting by Robert Gonsalves — who unfortunately recently passed away — called “In Search of Sea.” I think it’s a great symbol for what the album is about and that’s where I got the idea for the title. If you haven’t seen it you should check it out. Why a concept album? I love concept albums. I’m a big nerd about story and I love for things to fit together and have beginning, middles and ends. Some of my favorite albums are concept albums, like The Decemberists’ “The Crane Wife” and “The Hazards of Love,” Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” and many of Sufjan Stevens albums. It’s hard for me NOT to think in terms of concept albums. I actually am writing towards three new ones, currently! I like having several projects to work on at once and when one gets “full” I’ll start thinking about recording it. Some of them are very loose concepts, the others more tight. I do the same thing when I’m thinking about a story, when it get’s to a certain point in my head, then I can start the writing process.

JON:  I do that with my screenplays. I’m always thinking/collecting snippets for the next four or five. Once there’s enough that i can see all three acts (just as you like to see the beginning, the middle, and the end), they go on the “official” list, where I assign them a firm start date, and an intended completion date. The official list always has my next projects, in the order my brain needs to conquer them. And I am always writing whichever one is in the first slot. <><><> I have heard of Gonsalves, but not seen “In Search of Sea.” I will definitely seek it out when we are done here. <><><>  The concept of concept albums have always fascinated me, and you’ve named some of the more recent best of the best. “The Crane Wife” is truth and art and everything. <><><> I love learning about how a person’s brain works, and their process — so your answer about the next three projects, was kinda in the neighborhood of my next question. The real (ahem) Question Number Three is this: Similarly to how you described how a collection of ideas becomes “full” enough to record that project, explain how for you, a song’s initial flash of inspiration becomes “full” enough to turn it into an actual Hetty song.

HETTY:  As far as when a song is finished, I consider both the practical side: when the words, melody and chords are all there, make sense, and gel; and the more mystical side: is this song saying what it was meant to say? Is it accurately representing the emotional kernel that made me start writing the song in the first place? If I can say “Yes” to all of that, then it’s finished. My poetry professor in college explained the emotional kernel of a poem like a ghost in the room–no one else could see it so you had to throw some words on it like a blanket to reveal it to others. I really like that metaphor.

JON:  Ooh, that’s good. #BlanketTheGhost — I love that.  Inspiring.  Which leads to my next question. Since I’m a film guy, I have to ask. There are literary references/inspirations sprinkled throughout “In Search of the Sea,” tell my readers about the first one that comes to mind–but then talk about a film reference or two.

HETTY:  When I was writing “The Sea is Calling Me” I kept thinking about Legolas’ obsession with the sea in The Lord of the Rings but I couldn’t remember what exactly he said about it. I started googling around and found “Legolas’ Song of the Sea” which he sings after the Battle of the Black Gate. That’s where I took the line “I will leave the woods that bore me…” I especially loved and resonated with that line because I grew up in the woods in a log cabin, so it felt very true to my story. Although unfortunately I am not a wood elf. And then just the other day I was reading the Bible and the verse of the day was Matthew 19:29 where Jesus says, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” And I just loved that he mentioned leaving fields specifically, which is very similar to the next line in my song, “I’ll forget the fields behind.” So there’s an example of a quote that came first and I wrote it directly into the song and then a reference that I found after I wrote the song but that seems to fit right in as if I had planned it.

I love film. When I’m writing a song or a story, I’m often picturing it in my mind’s eye like a movie. As far as film references go, I do quote “The Sound of Music” in my song, “Monk.” The story of “Monk” is very similar to Maria’s story in The Sound of Music. It’s kind of this idea of wanting to be a nun and give not only your life to God but also the chance of romance. But Maria falls in love, which she realizes is a calling in itself (or that’s how I perceive it). I guess “Monk” is the other side of the coin: it’s the girl singing to the monk-in-training, “Hey, I’m not trying to make you stop being a monk but give a life with me a chance.” I think that idea is really endearing, merciful, and also pretty dang funny.

JON:  Totally funny.  Okay, the final question.  Ready?  I’m requiring you to dig deep into your inner-Hetty for this one. I’ve read a ton of positive feedback online about the new album, and I also know when you play live you receive instant accolades in the form of applause. I’m sure both types of recognition of your artistry are appreciated sincerely. So talk about the difference between the two — in terms of emotionally and/or psychologically — how each form of praise makes you feel.

HETTY:   That’s a hard question. I think it’s difficult to answer because I haven’t actually played a lot of live shows. Also, being in Nashville, it’s been difficult to find a venue that isn’t country-centric. My songs are very lyric heavy and if you aren’t listening then you probably won’t “get” them. But when the audience is listening and really into my songs, that’s the most fun thing ever! I actually really like performing, even though I do get nervous, because it’s just so immediate and immersive. It’s like being on a roller coaster — which come to think of it, I actually hate.  However, reading positive comments about my album has been so encouraging. I think at this point in my career I feel like my album better represents my music than my live performance. I think that’s simply because I’m still figuring out how to perform my songs live, what instruments to use, etc. All of that is part of the learning process and I welcome it. This next year I hope to really focus on performing and play at least one show a month and find some friends to play with me and sing backup. I long for other musicians to collaborate with, I think that’s a great way to grow and learn.

JON:  What a great inspiring note on which to end this interview — encouraging growth through collaboration.  I love that.  Thank you for opening up and indulging my questions, Hetty.

HETTY:  Thank you, Jon–they were insightful and fun to think through.

HettyTrain

BONUS CONVERSATION SNIPPET:

Hetty recently released her first full-length video in support of “In Search of the Sea,” for the song “Hey Annaliese,” so I asked her to tell me a little about that song.

HETTY:  The song [“Hey Annaliese”] is about the sea–it’s about Annaliese having sailed for seven years and she is coming home. So it’s just the opposite of most of the other songs about leaving and going on an adventure, but it is “sea themed,”

Watch “Hey Annaliese” by clicking here.

Hetty Side Glance

Purchase “In Search of the Sea” here.

Visit Hetty’s website.

Follow Hetty on facebook.

Follow Hetty on twitter.

Follow Hetty on Instagram.

Subscribe to Hetty’s YouTube channel.

 

THE YAEL SHAVITT INTERVIEW

THE YAEL SHAVITT INTERVIEW

Yael Shavitt is humble.

Take a quick glance at Yael Shavitt’s IMDb page, and you will see a considerable list of notable accomplishments.  If you’ve followed her crowdfunding campaign for Split on my facebook page during the last week, or on Split’s actual Seed & Spark page itself, you’ve seen her add some additional exceptional accomplishments.  And yet, over the course of our discussions during the last month, not once — seriously, not once — has she ever given herself a well-deserved pat on the back.  Instead, with her ever-present candor and grace, she is always quick to point out that any recent success she has enjoyed is attributable to two things:  Her female-based production team, and her very loyal followers (in other words, YOU).

I tried to dig a little deeper into Yael as a creative and what makes her tick.  You’ll see her graciousness in her answers, as she always brings it back to her team.  So without further ado,  my interview with Yael Shavitt begins here.

JON:     Good evening Yael. Thank you for letting me ask you a few questions about you and your new project, Split. Describe for my readers the premise, where the idea originated, and why it was important for the protagonist to be female.

YAEL SHAVITT:     Hi, and thank you so much for taking the time to chat! Split is a web series about two possible paths that one life might take. An early decision in a young girl’s life creates a split in her world, sending her off on two parallel paths into alternate futures. A few years ago I simply woke up early one morning with the seed of the idea for Split in my head. I think it literally woke me up. Many drafts and re-writes later I can say that I wanted to explore this premise because in my own life I often look back at events and try to follow the thread connecting them. Sometimes I can clearly see how seemingly unrelated events led to each other. From there it’s an easy path to playing with the thought of taking one of those events out of the equation, and wondering how it would affect the rest of my life. I do believe we need more stories with female protagonists, and I personally both seek out and enjoy consuming these stories. The reason Split’s protagonist is female is because I’m a woman, and I was telling the story through my own eyes. I didn’t make her female as opposed to making her anything else. It was my default. Once the script started taking shape, however, it did become clear to me that I wanted to have a female team of filmmakers leading the project into production. And I’m so happy I made that decision.

JON:     Thank you Yael. You just said the protagonist (Sammy/Sam/Samantha) is a woman because you’re a woman — in addition to your gender, what other parts of you did you bring to the creation of Sammy? Did your upbringing inform her in anyway?

YAEL SHAVITT:     Some elements in my life have certainly inspired parts of the story. Like Sammy, I too auditioned for the theater department of an arts high school at 13. I’ve always felt that the experience of attending that unique school for four years made a big impact on my life. And I think getting into the school or not getting into the school, like any other audition, is as much about luck and circumstances as it is about skill or potential. So that was a crossroad I wanted to look at.

JON:     Of course. That makes total sense, Yael, Split tackles some pretty big themes, such as Destiny and Choice. It brings to mind my personal awareness of the truth that a decision you make on Monday doesn’t just affect the following Tuesday; it affects some event or some person on a Tuesday twenty years into the future. Talk a little bit more about that in general, Yael.

YAEL SHAVITT:     Well, I like to take a positive approach to how I think about this, and I believe that’s influenced my writing as well. Yes, we make a million decisions every day and any one of them may have repercussions we can’t even imagine. But I also think there are certain milestones in our life that we can potentially reach, no matter what path we take. So that one way or another we do get to the places we’re meant to end up at, and we do meet the people we’re meant to meet. And I don’t think we can mess that up with one “wrong” move.

JON:     Interesting. It’s almost as if there’s a larger all-encompassing plan, not our specific plan, that’s going to completed no matter what. Like in Numbers (or In The Wilderness), Moses starts towards the Promised Land with about 70 people — 39 years later, Moses didn’t make it, but over 600,000 people wound up where they were meant to be. The story is in the journey between the Promise and the Place, isn’t it? Speaking of place, the all female team behind Split appears to also be an all New York team. How did you pull this team together, and how does a New York sensibility inform the project?

YAEL SHAVITT:  One of the things I love about New York is that anyone can be whoever they want to be here. It’s such a diverse place, in various respects, and in my experience it’s also a place that’s accepting of diversity. That’s something that I hope to capture in Split. There are different ways to be, and as long as you’re not hurting anyone, they’re all legitimate. I want the characters of the show to reflect that. New York is also such a wonderful place to be looking for artistic collaborators, honestly. I found our director Molly McGaughey and our DP Samantha Pyra through their previous work, online. I reached out to each of them, we met up and we clicked. Producer Hannah Hancock Rubinsky and I met a few years ago in a writing class. Together with anther writer from that class we later formed our own little writers group. It was to this group that I brought the very first drafts of Split. So it was so lovely when Hannah decided to come on board as producer!

JON:     That’s all very true about New York. Las Vegas is a lot like that too, and yet the sensibilities are so different. Anyway, this will be the last question, Yael. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation, and we should definitely do it again sometime. So, as we close this interviewing, you are preparing to launch your Seed & Spark campaign. Since this interview won’t be released until later, when you are on the verge of some milestone during that campaign, I’d like to skip ahead to the day after the campaign ends. You’re exhilarated and you’re pumped! Your batteries are charged and you’re ready to go! What’s the first thing you do, and then what’s next?

YAEL SHAVITT:     Well, the first thing I’d like to do after the campaign ends is go off for a few days and simply rest. Preferably on a beach. With minimal engagement with technology. After that, my team and I will be going into pre-production and production for the remaining five Split episodes! It’s going to be exciting and challenging, and so much fun. Just like it was when we filmed the pilot, only multiplied by five. I can’t wait!

JON:     In May, I spent 19 days in a cabin in the woods without internet. Great idea on paper. (beat)  On paper.  (long beat)  So… thank you Yael Shavitt for your time. Sounds like you’ve got a great plan for proceeding. You are an awesome interview, by the way. Stay in touch. Don’t be a stranger. I’ll be watching Split’s Seed & Spark campaign, and look forward to watching you hit 100%.  And, of course, when it is completed, I’ll be watching Split!

YAEL SHAVITT:     Sounds good, Jon.  Thank you, I really enjoyed your thoughtful questions as well!  And thanks so much for everything! Let me know if you need anything else.  Cheers.

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UPDATE:  As of this writing, on 07.10.17,  5:30AM (EST), Split is at 119% of their target goal on Seed & Spark.  HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP.  Would you be so kind as to go to Split’s Seed & Spark page, and follow them?  IT’S FREE, and if they get to 250 followers by the end of the week, Seed & Spark will contribute $10,000 worth of perks to the campaign.

Split team 03

 

Split’s Seed & Spark Page

www.facebook.com/splitwebseries

www.instagram.com/splitwebseriesofficial

www.twitter.com/splitwebseries

www.yaelshavitt.com

Yael Shavitt’s IMDb Page

 

FEATURE PHOTO (L to R): Molly McGaughey, Yaeel Shavitt, Hannah Hancock Rubinsky

BOTTOM PHOTO (L to R):  Yael Shavitt, Hannah Hancock Rubinsky, Molly McGaughey, Samantha Pyra