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Welcome to The Wormhole and my day on the tour.
It is my pleasure to feature Lee Rudnicki and My Immortal.
Enjoy the interview!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I didn't so much as realize that I wanted to be a writer; I had to become a writer.
To explain, I come from another world. The drum corps world. They call it Marching Music’s Major League now, but it’s basically a circuit of world class drum corps from all over the country. Look up the drum corps Phantom Regiment if you want an example of what I’m talking about.
Anyway, in high school, I was on a mission to get good enough to march in and teach a drum corps someday. In
So, I drummed. I was pretty much drumming 24/7 when I was awake and sometimes
in my sleep, not much else. The rest of school? Pretty much, out. I wanted
nothing to do with it, I wanted to drum. Typing? Out. Writing?
Not a chance. Math? Avoid. As the
story goes, I drummed. But that’s a story for another day, my friends. The point is, writing “words” was not part of
the equation, I could barely write a paragraph.
Faaaaaaaaaaaaaast forward, I graduated college, left the drum corps planet and landed on Mars, aka law school. The new environment was cool, but things got not cool when my first assignment came back covered in red ink. The Picasso-like red and yellow mess of putrid tort soup on a bagel with cream cheese was followed by a direct speech from my professor. “Learn how to write or you will fail out.”
Rut roh. I had no other career plans. And my only superpower, snare drumming, would not save me.
So, fear was my initial motivation to write. Please understand, there was no mission statement about becoming a novelist. There was no plan to write or produce anything. I was a drummer out of water, with no other options, and learning how to write was a matter of career survival, quite frankly.
The cool thing is that getting a mission where everything is on the line, is that it is a great experience if you can survive it.
So, I came up with a plan. In addition to studying, I wrote online a lot and read and wrote anything and everything I could, and also travelled every chance I got. When I finally published something, Tale of a Drum Line, it did well, and that gave me confidence as a writer. I just published Tale of a Drum Line as an e-book, which you can find here.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
I finished my first screenplay in the UCLA professional screenwriting program. That’s when I finally felt as if I had written “something.”
How long did it take you to write a novel?
Well, the journey of My Immortal not typical. The screenplay came first, so I already had many elements figured out when I started. Which technically makes the creative process backwards.
Anyway, if you’re interested, here’s my 7-step playbook for turning a screenplay into a novel –
PLAYBOOK – SEVEN STEPS FROM NOVEL TO SCREENPLAY
Step 1 – Paste your screenplay into an MS Word Document. 10 seconds. Smile.
Step 2 – Format everything like a novel. change verb tense, fix character names, add quotation marks. blah blah blah – 3 weeks. Hype. Start thinking about the cover. Publishing rights. Tell your friends.
Step 3. Visit the location. Rewrite the novel there. Grow confident. Hype.
Step 4 – Go home. Check word count. Terror. Panic. Curse. Panic. Writing a novel at this speed will take 200 years. WTF. LOL. Drink.
Step 5 – Brainstorm. Buy voice recognition software. finish first draft in 27 days by telling the story to yourself as you visualize the journey. Celebrate with nice dinner. Predict editing time of 7 weeks. Boast. Hype. LOL. Send your friends the cover. Hype. Boast. Predict.
Step 6 – Spend 7 months editing, and then another two months editing. Curse. Spend endless hours at the computer. Curse the fact that you told anyone you wrote a novel. Or even wrote a novel. What a stupid [bleep] idea. WTF.
Step 7 – Publish. Smirk. Collapse.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
My Immortal is not written like your typical novel. I feature short, fast-paced machine gun chapters with relentless action and violence. I include some of my photography from
Eastern Europe as well. When you’re done
reading My Immortal, I don't want you to
feel like you read a good book. I want
you to feel like you survived.
Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your characters?
I’m a producer, so my choice of what projects or characters about are largely dictated by what I want to see made into a movie or television show. Whether or not that ultimately happens on any project is another story as everyone who ever tried to produce or write anything knows, but that is usually my initial source of motivation.
Character-wise, my characters write themselves. It’s hard to explain, but the My Immortal creative process was more akin to following Wolf, Sebastian and Eva down into the tunnels underneath
and documenting what happened, not putting words on paper and imagining a
character saying that. Long story short,
writing a novel was the most unusual and vivid creative experience I’ve
had. I highly recommend it to everyone.
And by the way, writing a novel is terrible experience some times as well. But at the end of the day, it’s a worthwhile
endeavor, even if nobody reads your books.
Maybe especially if nobody reads your books. Berlin
What do you think makes a good story?
If you’re going to write for the audience, write for the audience. Our time is precious, so make it worth your reader’s time. Be as clever as you want, but understand that your readers need to “get” the story you wrote after one reading, not fifty. Boring sucks, regardless of genre.
What book, if any, do you read over and over again?
The 4-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss. It’s a genius book on time management, even if you don't want to sell widgets or be a speed-reading world champion ninja assassin.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research?
I went to
to retrace the
steps of Sebastian, Wolf and Eva as they escaped from the city. I wanted to make sure the historical context
was accurate, and the scenes that I was writing correctly captured the essence
of each city. It took a ton of time,
travel and research in Europe, and I barely survived a few encounters with the
vampires in Prague -- Czech vampires are under the control of no one, and can be
quite unpredictable even when not provoked.
At the end of the day, the My Immortal story fits within the historical framework of the second world war. It could have happened. Maybe it did. And I learned that vampires really do exist, at least in
What can readers expect next from you?
A few movies. Book-wise, I’m working on the sequel to My Immortal, which is set in
. It’s dynamite. Japan
Okay, now some fun and ridiculous questions. What is the capital of
Dogs or Cats?
Rumiko and I own a miniature Australian Sheppard, Buzz the Dog. If you want to see Buzz do his famous cookie-on-nose trick, here it is.
Coffee or Tea?
I drink one cup of coffee in the morning, then I exist the rest of the day on unsweetened iced tea. This one time, in band camp, I tried this so-called beverage in North Carolina called sweet-tea, which seemed to me to be the culinary result of a Three Musketeers bar, a pound of sugar, a slice of baloney, two lemons and a tea bag all thrown into a juicer. I dunno.
Dark Chocolate or Milk?
I greatly prefer dark chocolate. In fact, I am proud to hold an official certificate in chocolate tasting from
Park in , which is what you get after
you ride the ride with the singing cows, then taste all of the different kinds
of Hershey’s chocolate. I’m originally
from Mountaintop, PA, by the way. Pennsylvania
Night or Day?
If the author of a vampire novel ever says “Day” in response to this question, red alert. Delete this blog immediately, change your name and go into hiding.
Crayons or markers?
Sharpie uber alles.
Pens or Pencils?
I haven’t willing used a pencil since the third grade (true story). I prefer black Bic Cristal 1.6 mm pens, which leak all over the place, but write so well that I’m willing to deal with the ink on my hands as collateral damage. While we're talking about penmanship, I think one of the most useless skills I learned in elementary school was cursive writing. In fact, my cursive writing is pretty much still on a third grade level. No offense to anyone who still likes to write like that, but unless and until you need to beam back to the year 1872 and write some letters to Congress or whatever, I think that’s a skill you can leave by the wayside.
Can you please give us an excerpt from your vampire novel?
Absolutely. I call this excerpt “The Miracle,” because it’s when the German soldiers learn a secret about Eva that is far more shocking and important to the world than the fact that she is a vampire.
EXCERPT -- MY IMMORTAL THE VAMPIRES OF
Axel stirred just as Sebastian emerged from the darkness with Eva. “Kill the devil girl!” he gasped.
Overcome by emotion, Klaus got up and pointed his rifle at Eva. “We need to get rid of her. The vampires will stop hunting us. We’ll be safe.”
Sebastian put himself directly into the line of fire. “Easy there, soldier. We’re all on the same side.”
Klaus didn’t flinch. “How many more of us have to die because of her? You have a genius plan to get out of
That’s what you guys told us, and that’s why we followed you. We don't need
this vampire shit!” Berlin
Sebastian put his hand over the muzzle. “Put the rifle down. I’m not going to let you shoot her.”
The old man’s voice broke with emotion. “Get out of my way! She is not your daughter! Your daughter is dead! I will shoot that witch!”
“Shoot her!” Dieter shouted.
Just as Klaus began the muscle contractions on his index finger to shoot, Sebastian moved at lightening speed and tackled him. Dieter jumped onto Sebastian’s back, but ended up on the ground next to his grandfather a split-second later. With his growing strength, Sebastian could have easily killed them both. Instead, he held them down just hard enough to prevent them from hurting someone.
Unnoticed during the mêlée, Eva knelt down and put her hands on Axel’s face. She closed her eyes as a soft blue glow emanated from her palms. The horribly burned pilot moaned and tried to push her away as the light grew brighter, but Eva kept her hands firmly on him.
Dieter noticed the light. “Stop!” he yelled. “She’s hurting him!”
Eva took her hands away from Axel and crumpled to the ground.
Sebastian released his grip and the fight ground to a halt.
Klaus ran to the pilot’s side. “Are you all right? Axel, are you still alive? Talk to me!”
Axel pulled his hands away from his face.
Klaus gasped. “Oh my God …”
In case you are still looking for more...Author Bio:
Lee Rudnicki is an entertainment lawyer, producer, and writer in Los Angeles. Lee has a law degree from the University of San Francisco, a music degree from San Jose State, a Certificate in Screenwriting from UCLA and studied international law at Trinity College, Ireland and Charles University, Prague. Before law school, Lee was a world-class rudimental drummer and drum corps instructor.
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/Drumlaw80
Publisher: 23 House
Date of Publication: March 9, 2012
Number of pages: 306
Word Count: 56,000
A supernatural adventure set in present day and 1945 Berlin. Our heroine is Eva, a shell-shocked young vampire who is found wandering around in the ruins of Berlin Cathedral on the last day of the war by soldiers.
BARNES AND NOBLE
VAMPIRE BLOG – (SIGNED COPIES) --http://www.vampiresofberlin.blogspot.com/