I welcome S. Michael Wilson, author of Lugosi.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Born in Rochester, New York in 1973, I was transplanted to New Jersey at the tender age of eight, and have yet to make my escape. My generation was the first to grow up with twenty-four hour cable channels spewing nonstop movies, and so I grew up with an appreciation for film. In my adult life I have been employed as a postal worker, production assistant, warehouse manager, theater manager, underground fuel tank technician, stockroom clerk, office manager, projectionist, and even a lowly comic store clerk. During all of these various occupations, however, I have always been a writer. I was also named after a song, but I’m not telling which one.
Tell us about Performed by Lugosi.
Performed by Lugosi takes a closer look at the life and work of iconic horror actor Bela Lugosi by examining the classic literary origins of seven of his films, selected from various points in his career. Each section includes the complete short story that the film was based on, a detailed synopsis of the film, the origins and history of both, a comparison of the differences and similarities between the two, a look at Lugosi’s life and career at that point in time, and my own thoughts and reflections on his performance and the film.
The scope of the book is a little ambitious on my part, an attempt at an amalgam of literary criticism, film theory, biography and movie review, which is hopefully not nearly as boring as it sounds. I wanted to write something about Lugosi that was more than just historical documentation and anecdotal reminiscing; I wanted to show how I view and appreciate films, the different ways that films and performances are influenced, and the similar origins that can often yield vastly different results. I also wanted to show that you can have a love or an appreciation for performers or films without turning a blind eye to their obvious faults and shortcomings, so I don’t just spend the entire book praising Lugosi and his films.
Is it available in print and e-book formats?
Performed by Lugosi is available in print form from Amazon.com, really cool local bookstores. My publisher is currently working on making it and my previous book (Monster Rally) available on the Kindle as well as other electronic e-book devices.
How do you determine voice in your writing?
I think the subject matter and my connection to it usually determines my voice more than I do. I have rewritten entire articles I originally felt demanded a serious tone, yet upon review came off as boring and sterile. Performed by Lugosi was just the opposite. I started the project with the intention of writing a snarky and comical look at Lugosi’s films and career, but the more I researched and immersed myself in his work, the more I discovered that I respected it too much to treat it that way, and so my approach became a bit more measured and clinical. In the end, I think it all comes down to that intangible “Whatever feels right” mantra, which is one of the aspects of writing that can make it so frustrating, yet ultimately rewarding.
Do you have specific techniques you use while writing?
When it comes to film theory and criticism, I like to keep the film I am writing about playing in the background on a continuous loop. It might sound a bit simplistic, but I find that immersing myself in a film on an almost subconscious level helps me get past the first impressions and assumptions that can often influence the interpretation of a film. After the tenth or fifteenth viewing, even peripherally, the film becomes such a part of me that I begin to notice details or themes that normally would not occur to me. This is probably the reason, for instance, that I spend a whole page or so discussing the thematic implications of the missing arm of Lugosi’s character in "Phantom Ship".
What is your most rewarding experience during the writing process?
I stick to the old quote, attributed to various authors, “I hate writing. I love having written.” My most rewarding moment comes much later, when I am reading over a past project, and I come across a passage that I not only do not remember writing, but am actually surprised came from me. There is no better feeling than impressing yourself.
Any current projects?
Oh my, yes. My ongoing project/hobby/obsession is a film review podcast I co-host called "MovieSucktastic". It is mostly dedicated to bad movies, and is available on iTunes and at www.moviesucktastic.com, with written reviews and comments from the show available on the sister blog, boothreviews.blogspot.com.
As far as the books go, I am currently working on the forwards to several film novelization reprints scheduled for release by Idea Men Productions, a follow-up to Monster Rally, and a book on bad movies based on my work with MovieSuckastic. A screenplay I co-wrote, a romantic comedy involving a yard sale, is slated to shoot in the spring of 2011. I also have a short story collection and vampire novel in the works, but those are currently taking a back seat as I devote more time to my film-related projects.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
My official author page is www.smichaelwilson.com. There you can find the latest news about my current work, upcoming projects, and future appearances, as well as links to my Facebook and Twitter pages. My unofficial and less professional blog, scottsbookshelf.blogspot.com, is where I post my random, unorganized, and occasionally NSFW thoughts.
Michael, thanks for an interesting interview. Best of sales!