A Conversation with Bobby Nash, Author…

I met Bobby Nash through the Sangria Summit Society, after a mutual acquaintance reviewed his SNOW series. In today’s Conversation, Nash talks about the journey of becoming a writer of multiple formats and genres…

Q (Infamous Scribbler): Tell me a bit about your area of expertise. What do you do? How long have you been doing it? Where do you share or publish your work?

A (Bobby Nash): I am a writer. I write novels, comic books, short prose, graphic novels, novellas, and have dabbled in screenplays. I’m usually opening to whatever best fits the story that needs to be told or whatever the publisher needs.

My first published work outside of a school setting was in 1992 when I had a comic book published and I started writing and drawing a comic strip for a local kid’s magazine called Keeping Up With Kids. I did strips for them for 12 years. It was fun. In 2000, I sold my first professional comic script, DEMONSLAYER, that came out in 2001. In 2004, I sold my first novel, EVIL WAYS, to a publisher. It debuted in 2005. I’ve been rather busy ever since.

I work for several different publishers. I have worked for larger publishers, small press publishers, small indie publishers, and have self-published a book or two as well. My work is generally available at the usual spots: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, on-line retail outlets, comic book stores, and the occasional bookstore. I also sell books through my website for those who would like autographed copies. www.bobbynash.com is where you can find my work.

Q: Can you share with me some of the story of your journey? What first interested you in what you do? What were some challenges along the way?

A: I was fascinated by stories when I was a kid. I often mimicked the TV shows I watched or the books/comics I read when I played. Eventually, I started to make up my own stories, creating characters and situations for them to get in and out of before moving on to the next story. I knew that I wanted to tell stories, but it took a long time to find out exactly how to do it. It took even longer to find a way to do it and reach a larger audience. I’m still working on trying to make a living at it.

There have been challenges along the way. Breaking in with a publisher is tough. There was, and still is, a lot of rejection. I doubt that will ever change. Thankfully, I’m too stubborn to quit. Ha! Ha! Being creative is not easy. There are those that dismiss your creativity as “flights of fancy” or “lack of focus,” both of which I have heard said about me at one time or another. It took a lot of years to convince my family that I was serious about what I was doing. I don’t think they ever really understood my passion for it though, but they try to be supportive.

Publishing has changed a lot and so have the challenges. With the rise of self-publishing, it is easier to get work out there, but it is more of a challenge to get your work noticed. As a writer, I’ve had to learn marketing, promotion, salesmanship, customer service, accounting, things like that. Writing is a business and I have to treat it like a business if I want it as a career.

Q: What in particular do you find most satisfying about your work?

A: I love what I do. I love creating and getting to know characters. I love crafting stories and plots, trying to come up with something new or at least put my own unique spin on a familiar idea. I love traveling and writing has helped me do that. It has also introduced me to a host of wonderful people over the years, some of whom have become lifelong friends. All of that comes from my being a writer. Beyond that, discovering that there are fans of my work was a big thrill. Being asked to autograph something or have my photo taken with a reader, those things are just icing on the cake.

Q: What do you find most challenging?

A: Breaking into new publishers is still a challenge. My body of work helps make that a little easier, but most manuscript sales are still a lot of work. On a personal level, my biggest hurdle is me. Making myself sit down and get to work is the biggest obstacle I face daily. It’s like that old joke where a writer says, “It’s time to write. But first…” and then you fill in the blank with whatever non-writing chore they are about to do like laundry, cleaning the office, etc.

Once I sit down and get started, I am usually good to go, but getting my butt in the chair sometimes takes work. There’s always something trying to distract me.

Q: What piece of advice would you offer someone interested in this field? What piece of advice do you find yourself giving over and over to people who are hoping to learn from you?

A: I give this advice often: If you want to write for fun, do so. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you want to write as a career, then you must treat writing like a job. That means meeting deadlines, long nights, missing out on social events to handle last minute edits, and other things like that. Regardless of why you write, or what your writing goals are, have fun with it.

Q: What work are you most proud of, and why?

A: I usually answer this question with EVIL WAYS, which was my first published novel. I wrote Evil Ways without knowing what I was doing. I wrote how I wanted in the manner I wanted. It wasn’t until after that I was told there are certain things I should have done differently. Who knew? Ha! Anyway, I think that Evil Ways is the most “me” of anything I have written because I didn’t know what I was doing. In some respects, I miss that ignorance.

You can learn more about EVIL WAYS here: https://ben-books.blogspot.com/p/evil-ways.html

These days, I have found myself changing that answer to SNOW FALLS on occasion. I’m not sure what it is about the SNOW series that has caught on with those who are reading it, but they are loving the characters in this series. The title character of Snow is former undercover operative Abraham Snow. When his undercover alias is blown, he is shot and left for dead. He survives, having had a bullet miss his heart by a mere half an inch. Due to his condition, he is forced to retire. Snow returns to the only home he’s known, the one he ran away from right after high school. As he reconnects with family and friends he hasn’t seen in over a decade, Snow also finds that he can’t quite leave the job behind. While trying to track down the man who shot him, Snow also finds himself getting involved in other situations… the kind that he is uniquely suited to handle.

At present, there are 4 SNOW novellas on sale.

Book 1: Snow Falls
Book 2: Snow Storm
Book 3: Snow Drive
Book 4: Snow Trapped
Book 5: Snow Business (coming late 2018 or early 2019)
Book 6: Snow Down (coming 2019)

Series 1 will include 6 novellas.

The first 3 have been collected in a trade paperback collection. The second 3 will also be collected.

SNOW Series 1, Vol. 1
SNOW Series 1, Vol. 2 (coming 2019)

If all goes well and sales warrant, there will be a SNOW Series 2.

You can learn more about SNOW (with links to the above) here: https://ben-books.blogspot.com/p/snow.html

Q: Anything to add?

A: Rachel, I appreciate the interview questions and for letting me talk a little bit about my work. Thanks again.

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For more information about Bobby Nash and his work, check out the following links, or follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon and/or Patreon!

www.bobbynash.comhttp://BEN-Books.blogspot.comhttps://ben-books.blogspot.com/p/snow.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Conversation with Barbara Smith-Davis, Performer

One of my most memorable encounters with Barbara Smith-Davis came when I took voice lessons with her. While I was only able to go to a couple of lessons before life got in the way, I remember saying something along the lines that I used to be soprano, but now I thought I was more of a mezzo. Maybe an alto. After running through some scales and other techniques, she turned to me and said: “You are a soprano who’s lost her nerve.”
I thought that was the most elegantly blunt feedback I’ve ever gotten. Unfortunately, New Orleans is quite a bit too far away for more voice lessons, but I wanted to invite Barbara to do a character study interview to share her amazing talent and background. (And if you are in the New Orleans area, and might be interested in studying vocal performance, check out her website!)

Q (Infamous Scribbler): Tell me a bit about your area of expertise. What do you do? How long have you been doing it? Where do you share or publish your work?
A (Barbara Smith-Davis):  I am a performer, primarily of opera and musical theatre, but I have sung recitals, church jobs and even cabaret shows. I have always loved to sing and “pretend”. My first stage experience was behind a puppet, and I still own and use puppets as teaching aids.

Q: Can you share with me some of the story of your journey? What first interested you in what you do? What were some challenges along the way?
A: I was probably about 6 when I first saw a television special starring Mary Martin as Peter Pan!  I was completely captivated by the singing, pretending, flying, crowing! When it was televised the next Christmas, I sang along, with all the characters.  Mary Martin has always been my hero. I learned so much from her recordings, and even studied with her teacher, Helen Fouts Cahoun, when I lived in Dallas years later. One of my great treasures is a signed picture of Mary Martin as Peter Pan. I always admired it in Ms. Cahoun’s Studio. When she died she left it to me. The next year I went to NY and saw Mary Martin in The Sound Of Music. I took the picture backstage and Mary signed it for me.

I didn’t realize what a challenging path I had chosen. I assumed everyone loved to sing, and dance and act like an idiot. My dear parents offered me lessons and I loved it.  After high school, and many musical performances there, I won an audition with The Dallas Summer Musicals. During the next two summers I performed in 12 professional productions there, and learned more than my classes at SMU could ever teach me.

Q: What in particular do you find most satisfying about your work? Q: What do you find most challenging?
A: I finally went to New York to study opera. I was mentored by a wonderful man named Boris Goldovsky. I attended his workshops and then joined his touring company. I loved traveling and being part of a family of performers. I even met my husband of 50 years, J.B. Davis.

The most challenging part of this business was now evident. NYC is the Mecca for everyone interested in the theatre arts! Competition was daunting, and auditions were often referred to as “cattle calls”! I hung in and hung on and discovered new opportunities.

After the birth of our daughter Debbie in 1974, we traveled with JB and I discovered how much I enjoy teaching! I studied music education at SMU, but teaching singing to one motivated student instead of a class of bored kids, is a tremendous joy!

Q: What work are you most proud of, and why?
A: There is nothing like helping a singer catch on to something as nebulous as vocal technique and seeing his pride when he realizes  he can do it! .  Music has always been an important opportunity for kids to get involved, make friends, work toward a common goal and discover yourself. My constant advice to students and myself is, “Just do it!”

Q: Anything to add?
A: As Debbie got older I resumed my performing career, but I continued teaching voice from our home in northern NJ. After 53 years in the East, I am now living in New Orleans where I have established a new voice studio.

I’ve taught many students, shy and fearful like myself, and I hope that in addition to bringing out their unique vocal talent, I have instilled in them a sense of confidence, and courage that they can take out into the world. Everyone is intimidated by “the cattle call” auditions of life. But the truth is, there can be no competition. Each of us has his own magic, his own unique contribution to make to humanity. We are here to give these Gifts.

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A Conversation with Patrizia K. Ingram, Painter…

I became aware of Patrizia’s art through mutual membership in a Facebook group for military families in our neighborhood. She posted a vibrant watercolor painting of the cutest otter, as well as other paintings she had done on commission. I’m hoping to add one of her paintings to our art collection before we leave California, but can’t decide which one… In the meantime, I’ve asked her to talk a little bit about her life as a painter…

Q (Infamous Scribbler): Tell me a bit about you…

A (Patrizia K. Ingram): Growing up in Germany and Switzerland I started drawing and painting at a very young age. The earliest I can remember is an oil painting of a field with apple orchard at age five (this painting hangs at my brother’s house right now, 25 years later….)

In fact, my favorite subject has always been nature such as landscapes, floras and birds. I would spend hours of my childhood years drawing and painting. I got my ideas mostly from hikes in the woods and nature fieldtrips. Even now you will find me picking up random leaves and rocks from the ground- I just can’t help myself but to admire them and bring them home for future painting inspiration.

Part of growing up involved marrying a US Army officer and earning a degree in BUS & ADM from Mount Saint Mary College in NY. I never stopped pursuing my passion for art while becoming a mom of a wonderful little girl. I now work as a freelance artist. I am more motivated than ever to paint every day as I try to teach my daughter the beauty around us and the joys of discovering picturesque countryside.  I enjoy what I do and believe my work gives happiness to my clients.

Q: Tell me a bit about your area of expertise. What do you do? How long have you been doing it? Where do you share or publish your work?

A: I am crazy about watercolors; it is my preferred method of painting because of the unique qualities, unexpected results and fun techniques.  Watercolor is what I live and breathe. I am so blessed to wake up every morning to what I love. As I sip my coffee every morning in my backyard garden, I get to sniff the flowers and listen to the hummingbirds and plan my next painting of the day.

I believe good quality art can change your mood, transform the reality into a magical place and also capture precious memories.  This is why a lot of my work is house portraits. I capture memories made in each place such as the first house bought together after getting married or the place where babies were born or brought home from the hospital.  Sometimes it is grandma’s home after she passed away and sometimes it is [the] family lake home where every year there’s a family reunion. I see my work as so much more than just a simple painting; it is helping people remember all the beautiful places with the people they love. God knows how military people get moved around, one can lose track easily – I myself have moved 6 times in 10 years.

Every time I move I try to find local “landmarks” local people love and paint just that. For the place I live right now it is otters, seals, sea gulls, whales, monarchs, California poppies and Monterey Cypresses. I’m on a mission to fill this world with gorgeous art that makes you smile every time you look at it.

I’ve been painting my whole life but professionally for other people I started about 2 years ago. My friends kept asking me to paint this or that and eventually it turned into a business. I found that I have a lot to say through my paintings and get lots of commissions to do just that. I regularly share all my paintings, pictures of work-in-progress, behind the scenes, as well as tips and tricks to watercolor on my Facebook page, Patrizia K Ingram Art. I recently started an Instagram account where I publish my paintings, and I have a website as well with my name, patriziakingramart.com.

Q: Can you share with me some of the story of your journey? What first interested you in what you do? What were some challenges along the way?

A: I think the story of my journey is very simple: I try to listen to what people tell me, what my customers ask me and go do just that. Couple years ago I saw a movie called Yes Man, a 2008 comedy with Jim Carrey. In a nutshell the movie is about guy whose life is going nowhere—the operative word being “no”—until he signs up for a self-help program based on one simple covenant: say yes to everything…and anything. Unleashing the power of “YES” begins to transform his life in unexpected ways, getting him promoted at work and opening many doors…. So, I am the YES woman, haha. Anything my customers ask of me, I always say yes. They asked me to talk to Girl Scouts end of summer and teach them nature art, I said yes. They asked me to donate my local paintings for a fundraiser, and I said yes three times this year. They asked me to paint a seal for the Marine Conservancy Center, I said yes. They asked me for prints, framing, private art classes, art demos, I said yes. They asked me for a mural, well that’s still pending but probably yes. The list goes on and on but my point is that it is important to listen, slow down sometimes and listen.

I think the biggest challenge is, besides moving every three years, being a mom and a wife full time (because that’s not going away) while also trying to work full time and grow your business. Being an artist is a journey and it is not about the final destination but about getting there and the people you meet on the way and the experiences you gather. It is a process of growth and personal development because I leave a piece of myself in every painting. Being a mom to the most beautiful and most perfect little girl ever is incredibly rewarding but can be stressful at times as there only is so much time before bedtime.

Q: What in particular do you find most satisfying about your work?

A: I feel like I can help people with my art. If grandma died and there’s not at least one good picture of her house left, I will piece together her house from multiple photographs (including Google maps) to give the grown-up-by-now grandchildren the feeling of freshly baked cookies and homemade dinners, that only grandma could do, back to them. I often see myself as a solution to many people’s problems: if you need a promotion or graduation gift for your husband, I have done a bicycle painting or nautical chart of Monterey Bay or painting of the work place just for that kind of occasion; if you need some local scene painted like an otter or a seagull because your friend is moving and you want them to remember the place, I can help with that; if you need to beautify your kids room and are looking for custom-painted art of their favorite animals, again, that’s me; if you moved 11 times during your military career and can’t remember which house is which, I’ll do house portraits to keep them straight; if you need some sea animals on your patio chairs to make them more fun, call me for that; if your dad’s beloved puppy suddenly passed away and you need a dog portrait to commemorate the puppy, I’m happy to deliver; if you just bought a house from Over the Moon Realty, Amber and Allison probably gave you a house portrait painted by me… I could go on an on but my point is that every painting has a story that is almost always heart touching and me being a part of it is the most satisfying thing in the world. It doesn’t get better than this!

Q: What do you find most challenging?

A: Deadlines are hard, deadlines I put on myself are even harder. No one pushes harder than my own schedule and self-imposed deadlines and endless lists of “to-do’s”. One of the things many artists struggle with is the chase for perfection and I am no different. Yet being creative means that there are always new ideas and thus more work to do.

Q: What piece of advice would you offer someone interested in this field? What piece of advice do you find yourself giving over and over to people who are hoping to learn from you?

A: The worst day painting is still better than a great day without painting. I think if somebody is thinking about becoming an artist it is important to keep that spark that keeps you going at the beginning and treasure it, stay motivated and don’t give up. It is so easy to get discourage or even give up if the painting is not going your way or if somebody makes a negative comment. That could be said about all creative people like writers or poets too. This is where you need to surround yourself with people like you who are also passionate about the same things that you are whether it is art or music or creative writing. I think having somebody who you respect around you to provide you with honest feedback who would help you grow is just gold. It could be somebody in person or it could be online. My fellow artist friend is Amanda Paschal, an amazing illustrator and we are actually talking about creating a Facebook group just for military artists who need a supportive and mentoring place as beginning artists. And lastly, if you want to get better, paint, paint and paint. Then paint some more. Once you’re done, go and paint. There’s no way around it but to practice.

Q: What work are you most proud of, and why?

A: I am most proud of being part of the community as an artist and using my talents to raise awareness about wild life in the Monterey Bay Area. I often donate my art to multiple fundraisers in the area; it is almost always an otter painting or two.  Every time I paint an otter or a seal I make sure to include some educational facts when posting on social media to help people understand the need to protect the wild life and to keep the ocean clean. By living in Monterey, CA I am exposed to a magnitude of wild life and the ocean itself; being in love with the nature makes me want to protect it.

 

Q: Anything to add?

A: I am most grateful to my husband for his support, my daughter for the constant hugs and kisses, my followers and supporters for encouraging words and feedback every day, for my community and being part of it, and all my family and friends who believe in me. I am always happy to teach and answer any (art-related) questions so please find me on Facebook and Instagram and check out my website. If you love beautiful, light-filled, happy paintings then you are in the right place with me.

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A Conversation with A.J. Norfield…

Welcome back, friends! Time to meet another author. A.J. Norfield is a fantasy writer and nature enthusiast–who also has some great advice on how to fight a predator with your bare hands. You can check out his debut novel, Windcatcher, currently running as a promotion on Amazon until 27 May. Go check it out!
Windcatcher_small
Q (Infamous Scribbler): On a scale of climbing out of bed to climbing Mount Everest, how much of a challenge do you find it to be a writer–and why?
A (A.J. Norfield): That depends on so many aspects in my life! Sometimes I feel like I can leap the tallest buildings when I’m writing my story, other times the smallest anthill seems like an unconquerable mountain. I write for fun, but there is a lot of discipline involved as well. That discipline helps you continue to write even on those difficult days.
How I see it, writing is usually not the obstacle, it’s normal life around it. If I sleep well, I tend to find it easier to write, are the days busy, then my head will hit the keyboard snoozing before I can type my third sentence.
So, let them come those mountains and they can witness themselves if I clear them in one jump, or that I just thank them for the magnificent view and fall asleep at their feet.
Q: What is the worst piece of writing advice you ever received?
A: Writing advice? What’s that? I think I’m lucky to be well informed by the many sources on the internet and the wonderful communities on the various platforms. This road to authorship has been my own adventure, a search to what works well for me. Thankfully I was able to stay away from most of the indie author pitfalls and was able to put my investment of time and money where there’s a real return of value.
I expect there’s still much to learn as well, but fortunately no one has yet come forward to give me bad advice, at this point.
Q: Which emotion do you find hardest to write, and why?
A: Oh, that is a difficult one. Love is complicated, a lot more than happy or angry. Sadness can be difficult to describe in all its depths. The challenge I find is in the complexity of all those emotions being present in your characters. Can you make them laugh, when they’re grieving? Love, when they’re angry? That internal turmoil that everyone feels inside, which is already so hard to express in our own daily lives, let alone to put it in (elegant) words on paper. Still…challenge accepted!
Ereader-Tablet-Coffee-Cup_Free_small
Q: What is a genre you have never written, but think that someday you might possibly attempt?
A: I like toying with the idea to go full science-fiction after my initial series is done. Dragons in space anyone?! (IS Note: Why yes, please!!) I have some fun ideas. But with 5 books planned out to be written in the Stone War Chronicles, it will be quite some time before I can focus on anything else.
Besides that I would find it extremely interesting to write a well-crafted children’s book.
Q: What was the most challenging part of your latest work to write, and how did you overcome it?
A: My second book introduces a second main character. A strong female character, who will travel her own road during the events of the war. However at the same time, Raylan and Galirras–their journey continues as well. Since I’m a writer that writes beginning to end (I do not write separate scenes that I can switch around…at least not often), I found it difficult to keep switching between the two main storylines. Especially as one story unfolded in my mind at a quicker pace, than the other. In the end I decided to focus on one storyline first, complete that and then go back to continue the other.
As a result the story of the female character is now as good as done (first draft), which means I can soon get back to Raylan and Galirras to see how they can overcome their (new presented) obstacles.
Q: What animal could you fight with your bare hands–and win?
A: A dragon of course! Just kidding, I would never slay such a marvelous creature. As I work in the field of zoos, aquaria and conservation, I’m well aware of the danger animals can pose to us humans. Animals, especially predators, do not kid around. Anyone that can fight off a wolf, bear or shark with his/hers bare hands and life to tell the tale is extremely lucky in my opinion. The trouble is in the unpredictability; sometimes it best to stand your ground, other times you only survive by fighting back or running the other way as fast as you can. Shout at a bear, or play dead, stomp a shark on its nose and poke him in the eye, go berserk and strangle a wolf or a mountain lion.
One thing is for certain, if my kids would be in danger, I don’t care how big the threat is, that threat is going down…or I’ll die trying.
Q: What are you currently reading?
A: I’m reading Blood of Tyrants (Temeraire, #8) at the moment. This book is taking quite some time. Although I love the Temeraire series (it is one of my inspirations, together with the Dragonriders of Pern (IS Note: I love that series!), I feel less connected with this book in the series in comparison to the previous books. On top of that, I stayed away from dragon books (my favorite, duh) as much as possible, as I didn’t want to pollute my own storyline.
So…I’m ashamed to say Blood of Tyrants has been lingering around the house for more than a year now, but lately I’ve been making an effort to get toward the end and be done with it. And although I love reading, my writing has often taken priority during the last few years. If I wouldn’t it would be decades before I’m able to finish the books in my own series.
Q: Your bio states that you have loved dragon-fantasy stories all your life. What is it about this genre that captivates you?
A: As an admirer of nature (and animals in particular), the idea to have such a powerful, often intelligent creature next to you is just thrilling. Imagine your hand sliding along the warm scaled skin, feeling the muscles run below it. The lines of the tail, neck and horns. Magnificent wings that can block out the sun and if you’re lucky, to be invited up into the air. Be one among the elements, the rush of blood and adrenaline as together you dive-bomb down to ocean waters, to pull up at the last moment and feel your stomach go all the way to your toes. That kind of power and freedom is very alluring.
During my years as a falconer, I was able to build up a bond with one of the real world’s most magnificent creatures. And, I think my admiration of dragons and birds of prey might very well be intertwined, as I often use my experience with the birds as inspiration for the human-dragon bond in my books.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: Book II in the Stone War Chronicles series. ‘Wavebreaker’ will continue where ‘Windcatcher’ left off. It seems to have become quite the project because of the two storylines and I’ve been debating with myself if I should split book II in two parts. If I don’t it will be quite a lot of pages. As I mentioned, ‘Wavebreaker’ will introduce a new female character, who will soon find out that the world is a lot bigger than she ever expected and that not all places will have the watergoddess to watch over them…
‘Wavebreaker’ is planned to be released in 2016, if all things go well.
Q: Anything to add?
A: Windcatcher will run its first ever discount promotion on Amazon from the 20th of May till the 27th of May. So be sure to grab your copy if you’re looking for an action-packed dragon adventure.
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A.J. Norfield

Author Bio
A.J. Norfield lives with his loving family on land but below sea level. He tries not to worry too much about climate change and the melting of the polar ice caps. His wife and two rascals of children keep him engaged and grounded in life while he pursues goals of publishing a story that has been stuck in his head for years.
As a longtime forest and mountain enthusiast, he often wonders about his flat surroundings and how to escape them. In his free time, if available at all, he enjoys a wide variety of gaming, reading/writing, drawing and socializing. His interest in (dragon-fantasy) novels has followed him throughout his life ever since he was young enough to read. It was this interest—with a number of broken nights thanks to his daughter’s sleeping schedule—that eventually lead to his current undertaking to write his own dragon-fantasy series ‘The Stone War Chronicles’ and put it out into the world.
Inspired by established names like Anne McCaffrey, Terry Goodkind and Naomi Novik—to name only a few of many—he is ready to show the world what he has to offer.

A Conversation with Conrad Glover

I first met Conrad Glover in 2004 when he hired me to do some photography on the set of his independent horror film, Woods of Evil. At that time, I had done a little set photography and enjoyed it for the unique mix of aspects of photojournalism and fine art photography that capturing a work-in-progress film entails. In addition to that, I had a blast working on set. Conrad has a gift for bringing together a dedicated, talented group of people – and then working hard, but still having fun while putting together an independent project.

When I started this feature, I contacted Conrad and he agreed to talk a little about his experience, his films, and other aspects of the creative life. With tolerance for my habit of asking three or four questions at the same time, his thoughts can be found in the conversation below.

Q (Infamous Scribbler): You mentioned in your bio that you’ve done a variety of acting, writing, etc. How did you get into independent filmmaking?

On set and in character, with fellow actor Jaime Velez.

On set and in character, with fellow actor Jaime Velez.

A (Conrad Glover): My acting coach, Florence Winston, would always advise me to create your own projects and not wait on some casting director to call you in for a role. One day in class, she challenged me to write a one-act play, which I did. To her delight, she discovered that I had a gift for writing good dialogue and that I could tell a story. That lead to me going from writing one-act plays to writing screenplays, which continued for the next 8 years, helping me perfecting my craft along the way.

I had the opportunity to get my SAG [Screen Actors Guild] card in early spring of 1995 which put me on many movie sets as an actor, extra and doing stand-in work. This gave me the chance be on set for months working on various TV shows. I have to say this was my film school. This gave me the chance to watch and learn from some of the best directors in the business.

That’s when I decided I wanted to make my first feature film. So, I purchased my first camera and some editing equipment. The funny thing is, I didn’t know much about cameras or editing.  I researched and read everything I could get my hands on.  In may ways, I am self-taught, aside from what I learned from my observations.

Q: Of the movies you’ve directed and produced, which one was the most challenging to work on, and why?

A: …I have to say Woods of Evil gave me the most challenges. This was my second film and was intended to be a horror. However, of all the genres, I was least knowledgeable in horror. In trying to stay true to the genre so the film would appeal to horror fans, we did our best, but in hindsight know now we missed the boat on a few things to include suspense, and the shock and awe effect. But you live and learn, like with anything, and I am better because I accepted that challenge.

Conrad behind the camera on the set of "Woods of Evil."

Conrad behind the camera on the set of “Woods of Evil.”

Q: Who are some directors you look up to? What do you admire about them? What do you hope to emulate about them?

A: Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg.

They each take risks.  They do not do the same thing over and over – they each have an array of films in varying genres. I do not like to be pigeon-holed. I do not like to be defined by what I do. I want to be a filmmaker who will take on almost anything, if I like the project, of course.  I don’t think we grow as artists when we do the same thing over and over.

Q: Have you had any formal drama coaching or film school experience? If so, what? Do you feel that such is necessary to succeed in the field? Why or why not?

A: I began acting lessons in 1992. I felt so strongly that this is what I was meant to do, I traveled two hours into NYC, attended an hour long class with my coach, then traveled two hours back home. It was tiring but absolutely necessary as I began my career as an actor.  I trained formally with my coach, Florence Winston, until 2004, when I had to part ways for personal reasons.  A part of me wishes I never left, as I believe actors can always learn and improve upon their craft.

Is it necessary? No. There are many people in both fields that make it. Does it help? Absolutely. I think the best education is learning and watching from others, an on-the-job training, if you will. To an extent I believe the industry undervalues the formal education and formal experience when it hires people because they have a name versus having any credible training or background.

Although Hollywood may be the entertainment capital of the world, I truly believe American filmmakers and actors could benefit and learn from their European counterparts.  I find European actors to value their craft by studying it and placing a huge value on the stage experience. Stage work makes you a better actor, I truly believe. European filmmakers fall outside our cookie-cutter mold. Sure we have a few, some of whom I mentioned above, but for the most part, our filmmakers cater to the studios’ idea of what a film should be – I call it sanctioned censorship because the artists lose their independence and creative control. But, they have the money.

Q: When an actor/actress comes in to audition for a role, what are you looking for? Do you have any tips for people who are just starting to audition – or perhaps have been auditioning without success?

A: It is important for the person to be true to the character and live in the moment. The person has to become that character, in every way – voice, expression, mannerisms. This is why a person can gain much from formal training.

Q: What is one of the most satisfying parts of being an independent filmmaker?

A: I never lose creative control.

Production still from Woods of Evil, with Jaime Velez and Christopher Farmer.

Production still from Woods of Evil, with Jaime Velez and Christopher Farmer.

Q: If you were to assemble your dream cast and crew to produce your next film, who would be some of the names on the marquee?

A: Daniel Day Lewis, Gary Oldman, Giancarlo Esposito, Obba Babatundé, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angela Bassett, Viola Davis are a few.  There are many I admire and respect and with whom I would love the opportunity to work.

Q: Do you have other creative outlets besides filmmaking? If so, what are they?

A: I also write novels. I love to read and essentially keep the creative side of me busy. Recently, I got back into the gym and this helps me re-group.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your next project?

A: I am working on a few projects – they are in development at the moment. I hope to make one later this year.

Q: Anything else to add?

A: You live life once so it’s important you live it to the fullest.  Pursue your dreams.

 

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