Author Interview – Camille Marchetta on Writing for Television

camille2Thank you for joining us for part two of our conversation with Camille Marchetta, author of “The River, By Moonlight.” If you missed part one, click here.

Camille, you wrote for television before you became a novelist. Can you tell us a little about that?

For almost as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. And because I grew up loving films and television almost as much as books, it never occurred to me to choose one over the other. In fact, in England where I worked as an agent for a while, writers pretty much do anything they want. A lot of my clients wrote everything: books, films, television, plays. Consider Harold Pinter (not a client): he has always written not only for stage and film, but for television and radio as well. He’s far from my favorite writer, but as a role model you can’t do better, in my opinion. So when I went to Los Angeles to begin my life as a writer, I took a screenplay I’d written to show agents and producers. As luck would have it, that led to an assignment on Dallas and my being hired as a story-editor for the series. After that, among a lot of other things, I produced and wrote Dynasty and Nurse and Falcon Crest. In between, I wrote books.

What do you think of the writers’ strike that has caused so much furor in Hollywood as of late?

I think it’s unfortunate, especially as it’s causing so much financial hardship for so many people who can ill afford to miss a paycheck. But it’s necessary and I support it totally. All the writers are asking for is to be compensated fairly for work they’ve done. I take back that “fairly.” What they’re asking for is really less than fair — instead of the crumb being offered, they want a tiny sliver, a small taste, of a pie that wouldn’t exist at all if it weren’t for them. People tend to forget that there would be no television episode, no film, no DVD, no internet download, nothing, without the long hard hours spent by men and women writing the scripts on which they’re based.

You also wrote two novels with Ivana Trump. What are they about?

That’s really difficult to answer, they’re both such long books. But, in a nutshell, both recount the loves and betrayals, the heartaches and triumphs of Katrinka, an immigrant from Communist Czechoslovakia who achieves wealth and fame and, after many trials and tribulations, happiness in the free world. That might sound familiar, and you could be forgiven for thinking the books are autobiographical, but truly they’re not. Just as every author does, Ivana made use of what she knew, her background and expertise in various areas (which I encouraged because it all seemed so unusual and fascinating to me); but the plot, the characters, everything but the locations, are completely fictitious.

How does the co-author relationship work?

At the start, I had no idea how it would work, but I soon realized it was going to resemble being on a television show (a process which by that point was totally familiar and comfortable to me), where the writers sit in a room, talk endlessly, come up with characters, stories, plots, and then go away, write up all the notes, and return the next day and start the process all over again, revising what came before, and expanding on it. Ivana and I did that for months, in some very lovely locations (far superior to any office I ever had, believe me) and somehow we got two books out of it. They’re both good reads, I think, full of interesting characters and situations.

Camille, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to be here with us.

If you would like to learn more about Camille Marchetta, her other books and her upcoming projects, you can visit her website here.

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