CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: Betty, as one of the Dames and a fan, I’ve been thrilled at the attention your books are receiving. And now the good news that two short stories are being made into movies! Can you tell us about that?
BETTY DRAVIS: Thanks, Christy, for your ongoing interest in my books and now my short-films. I’m glad you’re asking about my short-films. I’m so excited… I have fulfilled every author’s dream in getting some of my works into film. I was delighted when Mina Ownlee, actor and founder of KPF Productions of Orlando, Florida, offered me a contract to do a short-film of The Snack, one of my three offerings in a horror anthology titled Six-Pack of Fear. As you know, the renowned paranormal author, Barbara Watkins, is my co-author on that book.
Word around the Net spreads fast and when several more production companies began inquiring about my other works, I was over the moon… The first offer fell apart when the producer was in a serious auto accident, but then I signed another contract with Suniil, In Transit Productions, actor and founder of Hollywood, California, who has won awards for his first two short-films. He is going to short-film my humorous adventure Uncle Herman’s Harem, which debuted in Best Short Stories of 2005.
And that’s not all: I also have offers for two feature films to be made from my longer works, but no contracts yet, so can’t go into detail on them… I’m keeping my fingers crossed and praying. I think you know that I’m a huge advocate of short-films, but a feature film has always been my big dream.
BETTY DRAVIS: Your timing is perfect, Christy. Producer Ownlee just released the DVD of The Snack last week and it has already gone global with sales in New Zealand and Canada. That’s unusual because usually the premiere (or first screening) traditionally comes before the DVD. But a number of problems arose on the set during production, which caused such long delays that Mina and I agreed to put the DVD out as soon as possible. Our friendly fans were getting impatient to see how Mina adapted my story and what my unending hype was all about. I’m happy to report that the first week’s sales exceeded our expectations and we’re hoping work spreads fast…and far. Thanks to you, we will now reach even more people via your gracious and numerous Dames of Dialogues readers. We sincerely appreciate your interest.
As for my second short-film, Uncle Herman’s Harem, Producer Suniil Sadarangani is aiming for mid-to-late 2015. He’s busy putting together the package for his first “passion”: making a feature film of his current short-film In Transit. That was his first short and he achieved phenomenal results by having it nominated for a nomination to the Academy Awards last year. In Transit and his second short-film Blind both won awards. Suniil informed me he is tying my Uncle Herman’s Harem in with the coming In Transit packaging, which is good news for me.
CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: Tell us about the actors who are playing roles in these films.
BETTY DRAVIS: I’m very pleased with the actors in The Snack; they all come from Florida since KPF studio is located there. The main lead is a newcomer to acting, Brian Mason, who plays the part of father Mike Kirby. I’ve shown this film to several Hollywood directors and all agree he handles his role with believable drama and “shows a lot of potential.” KPF founder, Mina Ownlee (stage name simply Mina) plays the role of mother Michelle Kirby. Mina has been acting since childhood in The Bronx and gives her usual stellar performance. Makaylee Rinaldo plays the important role of the child Cayla who is in danger from paranormal forces. Since her father is Kelly D. Weaver, a popular Florida film producer, and her mother, Amy Rinaldo, serves in numerous film capacities, Makaylee has many film credits. Next we come to the fourth main lead: Cindy Long plays the role of Morning Star and she’s an acclaimed actress with many credits from Disney to TV. Look for her in two big features coming in 2015: S.O.U.L. directed by the legendary Armand Mastroianni and Big Sky, coming soon to prime-time TV.
Then there is the cute teen-ager, Romanita Collazo, who plays the part of Roma Star. This is her very first acting job and she leaves a fine impression. In addition, cameo roles are played by Amy Rinaldo and Bonnie Cobb who play the detectives. I’m so impressed with all of them…
CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: And ala Stephen King and Alfred Hitchcock, will you have a cameo role?
BETTY DRAVIS: Hahaha, Christy… I am such a ham, years ago I would have loved that, but due to my advanced age, I might not even be able to make it to Florida for the premiere/screening. Mina is setting that up at the present time. However, I have arranged through a long-time producer friend for a premiere in Hollywood’s famous House of Blues. This is part of the Innovative of West Hollywood Film Festival. My producer friend is Martin DeLuca, the founder of WHFF. I won’t be attending that either, but I hope to have representatives at both events.
CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: You’re receiving attention from celebrities – several of whom you’ve interviewed here at Dames of Dialogue and in your books Dream Reachers I and II. You’ve developed friendships with many of these celebrities and I wonder if you’ve ever had a negative experience with one (no need to name names!).
BETTY DRAVIS: No serious negative experiences, but I can think of three minor issues. One interview subject disagreed with my co-author over interview rights and pulled her interview from the first book, then opted back in for the second Dream Reachers. Another woman that I interviewed presented a minor problem when she made my job take much longer than it should have; she called on the phone, wanting to change too much text while adding over 2,000 words to the space we had allotted her. The third thing I recall could have been a little more serious; one person mentioned by a Hollywood celebrity didn’t like what she had said about him, so I obliged him by taking it out. All three of us ended on an amicable note, so it worked out and we are still friends to this day.
BETTY DRAVIS: Due to the amount of work involved with each interview, sorting through photographs and all that’s involved in book production, I doubt it, Christy. My co-author Chase Von and I worked till three in the morning for four or five months putting those books together. It was a labor of love because we do love spotting potential talent before they become big household names. And we’re elated that so many of them have gone on to greater glory. To name a few: Kashy Keegan (#1 hit song in Hong Kong), Jenny McShane and Shawn Richardz (prime-time TV roles) and the great Joan Baker, famous Voice-Over coach who is taking New York by storm… Since we spot-lighted over seventy talents, there are many more who are doing even greater. Even though the books weren’t major hits, we’re happy that they inspired other talented people to pursue their dreams. I can’t believe the e-mails we received from grateful readers who reported being inspired by these books.
I might one day do a digital version of Dream Reachers, show-casing about eight or ten celebrities, both major and minor. That would be “doable”…
CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: You also have a background as a journalist during which time you interviewed famous celebrities such as Clint Eastwood (lucky you!). What fun you must have had! Do you miss those days in the past when you were buzzing around Hollywood conducting these interviews?
BETTY DRAVIS: There is that mistaken impression that I flitted about Hollywood doing my interviews of the rich and famous. But that’s not how it worked. All my contacts were through my newspaper work. It’s common for newspapers to attract celebrities because publicity is the name of their game. The more good press the better… Thus whenever they’re on the road their publicists inform the media and we take it from there. That’s how I met super-star Jane Russell and interviewed her at a round-table session at Trader Vic’s in San Francisco. I was editor of The Gilroy (California) News Herald at the time. The same with country/western singer Tanya Tucker who was in the nearby town of San Martin to perform at Bobby McGee’s Night Club… She was staying at the ranch of a family friend and I got invited to be in their entourage for various activities over the week-end, including Tanya’s birthday party. And then there was SenatorTed Kennedy…
My all-time favorite interview was with the very handsome, talented living legend Clint Eastwood. I lucked out with him, meeting him through his college friend whom I had featured in a story when I was a feature writer/columnist for The East San Jose Sun. I’ll never forget the night I had a private interview with him in her home. He was so charming and complimentary of my writing skills, encouraging me to follow my dreams. I published those stories and three others in the book Dream Reachers that I wrote with celebrity interviewer/poet Chase Von and later in digital format in Star Struck: Interviews with Dirty Harry and Other Hollywood Icons.
Christy, as for wishing for days gone by, NO, I don’t. It was fun at the time, but I have never been one to dwell on the past. I couldn’t reach my dreams if I did that. I believe in living in the present, enjoying it while still pushing onward to fulfill our dreams and follow our passions into the future. There will be time enough to dream of the past when I am too old to work.
BETTY DRAVIS: I love writing scary stories with a bit of twisted humor, but have no idea why, Christy. I don’t actually have a favorite genre but I don’t like writing romance unless it’s a light comedy. I write whatever story seems dominant in my mind at the time. I can tell you this, though: I had the most fun writing a cross/genre young adult book The Toonies Invade Silicon Valley. I think it’s because I could let my imagination soar. I was elated when Apple’s famous Steve “Woz” Wozniak agreed to a cameo speaking role in the book.
I can tell you stories about each of my nine books, but that would take too long. My “heart” book is 1106 Grand Boulevard because it’s about my beautiful older sister and her seven marriages and is set around our childhood home in Hamilton, Ohio. It was hard writing about my family, but I felt it was a story that needed to be told.
As for favorite book, I do believe 1106 Grand Boulevard would have to be it (for above reasons). I have a great fondness for the Six-Pack books that I wrote with the popular paranormal writer Barbara Watkins: Six-Pack of Blood and Six-Pack of Fear. It was through the Fear book that about four producers took an interest in my works, but we discussed that in the opening of this article.
CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: Do you have an upcoming release?
BETTY DRAVIS: Within the past month I released a short humorous/adventure story, The Search for Bobby McGee, through my publisher, Wendy Dingwall of Canterbury House. I’m still doing PR on that one while trying to launch The Snack DVD simultaneously. Even at that, the answer is YES, I have a new release coming. It’s my first full-length horror novel, titled The Hiss of Evil. Wendy was kind enough to loan me out to Janet Beasley of JLB Creatives Publishing for this one selection.
A generous friend created a cover that I’m just nuts about; one that Janet already approved. I will share it to your readers in this article for the very first public showing. I hope to hear your fans’ opinion on this cover. And so it goes. Being an author yourself, you know that we are always juggling projects. However, even though I dreamed of having movies made of my stories, I truthfully never thought I would be juggling books and movies simultaneously. I’m over the moon at the moment, and will probably be intolerable when I get that feature film out there.
CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: I’ve always found you very knowledgeable about promoting and, to be honest, you remind me of the Energizer Bunny when it comes to this. What do you like best about promoting? What do you like least?
BETTY DRAVIS: Well, the Bunny is now 86 years young, and losing some of that energy, but I will keep pushing. Onward and upward, I say… I really enjoy the writing, Christy, but don’t like the promoting. It takes too much time from my true passion of writing. That’s what I dislike about it, and what I like about it is that I get to meet many new and lovely friends. People like the Dames and my Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter friends.
CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: As an accomplished author, do you have any advice you can offer a novice or struggling writer?
BETTY DRAVIS: This advice might sound trite but the best advice I can give is to never give up and to remember there is no such thing as a writer. We are all re-writers; meaning write it as many times as it takes until you are confident it works. If this means getting a professional editor, then that’s a must. The American language is complicated, so make sure you have your text edited before sending it out into the world. Reviewers are critical and won’t hesitate to point out all your errors. They have long memories, so get it right the first time. Another very important point is creating your own “voice.” Don’t imitate other writers… It takes time before we “feel” our own voice; you may not find it until your second or even third book. But it will come… There is so much more, but there are many books on the subject of writing. Stephen King has a great one on the market.
CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: Let’s get personal. What’s your most favorite pastime Favorite food? Favorite saying? Favorite place?
BETTY DRAVIS: My favorite pastime is writing, of course, and spending time with my lovely children and grandchildren. I even have three great-greats… I don’t really have a favorite food, but I like seafood, salads, Mexican food… and cornbread. My favorite saying is one my mother used to say: “I wouldn’t give a nickel for another child, but wouldn’t take a million for any one of mine.” Some of my favorite words are: flabbergasted, funky, kinky, lickety-split. As for my favorite place, it’s home. The old saying, “There’s no place like home,” is absolutely right. Nowadays I can’t make up my mind whether to choose my “Girl Cave” where I write and reflect or my bed…
CHRISTY TILLERY FRENCH: I guess we covered all the important points, Betty. It’s been fun and enlightening talking to you. Speaking for myself and all the Dames, we’re very happy for you. Congratulations on your two short-films and we look forward to a feature film in the future for you. In closing I’m going to share your various links so our readers know where to find your books, your biography and other things about you. TTYL (talk to you later), as they say in phone texts…
Betty’s The Snack DVD purchase link: http://kpfproduction6.wix.com/kpfproductions#!kpf-store/c3jc
Betty’s Amazon Central Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Betty-Dravis/e/B002BLJJIU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Betty’s website: http://www.bettydravis.com
Betty’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/betty.dravis
The Snack: Movie page https://www.facebook.com/TheSnackmovie