K.S. Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself.
S.B. Glad to be here. Let’s see. I’m 42, born in Germany but not really from anywhere, I’ve moved around all my life, favorite place I’ve ever lived is Austin, Texas. Graduated with an International Business and Marketing degree from Schiller International University in Heidelberg, Germany. Drive a Jeep Wrangler. I have a three-year old Border Collie, I’m a Sagittarius, I like Orange Blossom and Abita Beer, Arizona Iced Tea, and I tend to eat Chinese food out of the carton.
K.S. Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?
S.B. I tend to follow the basic writer’s credo, write what you know. Write what excites you. I tend to tackle a story as if I’m the only person reading it or watching the film unspool. If other people want to join me, that’s great, but I move through a story because I’m curious to see how it will turn out. I think if you write for the trades or what’s popular in the moment, that tends to ring hollow, and that jumps off the page as well.
Quirks, I prefer to write in silence staring at a wall (lap-top, long-hand, note cards, extensive treatments and outlines, I’ve tackled different projects different ways). Re-writing, I want as many distractions as possible, music, TV, whatever in the background. If what I’m reading and editing is able to cut through all the noise, I feel like I’m on to something.
K.S. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?
S.B. I actually started out writing screenplays, in 1996, because I wanted to see if I could. That lead to a number of awards, representation, pitch meetings, this thing that I wanted to do, took me down a very exciting and interesting, rollercoaster type of path. I tackled my first novel last year for the same reason. Curious to see where it would take me.
K.S. What genre do you write?
S.B. I don’t. I focus on the story. It tends to be a story that won’t leave me alone, an idea that simmers in my sub-conscious and occasionally pops up and checks in with me to see if I’m ready to tackle it. The ones that stick around the longest seem to be the stories I write, basically just to get them off my back and out of my head. The ten screenplays I’ve tackled are across the board, different genres (and some went farther than others). My first novel is a dark thriller, the next one I’m working on is an action/adventure.
K.S. What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?
S.B. I was a kid, growing up on a military base in Germany, and one day there was a line of soldiers strapping huge packs on their backs, gearing up and getting ready for a 20 mile hike. And I stood off to the side and watched the line get prepared, and get ready to go, and for some reason, I walked up to this one soldier, and asked him how he did that? How could he walk 20 miles with all that stuff strapped on his back?
And instead of telling me to get lost, he looked down at me and said, I don't think about it, I don't worry about the weight or the distance, I’m only worried about the next steps in front of me. Every step I take is a step closer to my final destination.
It's probably the best advice I ever got on life, but it's worked pretty well for me as a writer.
K.S. What does your family think of your writing?
S.B. They’ve always been very supportive. My father was an artist, a painter primarily in oils, and I can’t draw anything, so I think he’s proud that his artistic gene (if such a thing exists) was passed down to me, and this is how I express it.
K.S. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?
S.B. I’m always surprised when characters do or say something that I wasn’t expecting, and it takes me down a totally new path. It’s one of my favorite aspects of creating a story, and when I’m in that burn, I just hang on and go for the ride.
I was surprised when I finished, it wasn’t the ending I expected, but it worked for me.
K.S. What inspires you?
S.B. Ideas that I’m passionate about, topics I find interesting, being in the heat of a story as it unfolds, long drives with the top down going nowhere. Airports. An interesting conversation with an interesting woman, Cajun country, Dublin, the big sky of Texas, how cold the Pacific really is, my dog Riley when he cocks his head, I can keep going. Basically I live my life with the desire to just try. Sure I could fail, and I have, and you quit or pick up the pieces of salvage and try again. You gotta try, you never know where it’s gonna take you.
K.S. Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?
S.B. Sure, here’s the book blurb for my novel, ROLL OF THE DIE
An Ex-Con on the straight and narrow is pulled into a twisted game of Russian Roulette in Las Vegas to save his wife. 666. Six Contestants, six chambers in a revolver, six sides of a die.
Riley Toback is at a crossroads. After serving a prison sentence for Armed Robbery, he’s determined to make a fresh start in Atlantic City.
Until his brother-in-law, drowning in gambling debt convinces him to pull a heist at a Jersey Shore nightclub.
In the aftermath of the botched robbery, Karim Rashid, a vicious Indian gangster, tracks them down. And makes Riley an offer.
Triple Six. One round is loaded into a revolver and the chamber is spun. The Contestant rolls a die, with the face value dictating how many times the weapon is fired.
If you can survive three rounds, you win.
With his wife and life on the line, Riley takes the deal.
K.S. Where can we buy your novel?
S.B. Right now it’s available as an e-book through Amazon and Smashwords.
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004OYT8MO
K.S. Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?
S.B. I have a website that’s up but it’s under construction: www.one11productions.com,
Until it’s up and running, I have a Facebook Page for my book where I’m posting reviews, links, etc.: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/ROLL-of-the-DIE/169116099806382
It’s like living in a hotel until my house is finished.
K.S. Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?
S.B. Anything in the creative arts is a never say never business, and if X marks the spot, you can probably find someone who has hit it from every possible direction.
But over time, as I’ve been on the road, I’ve boiled it down to six things that I believe every creative individual who strives for success (which I understand is a different end-game for everybody) has to have.
Persistence, patience, luck, timing, talent, and connections.
Everybody has various degrees of each aspect, and I don’t know what the proper ingredient mix is, but I feel safe to say that if you’re missing any of these, you won’t make it.
I would never advise somebody to do this, it’s a journey full of false starts and dead ends and Fools Gold and highs and lows and the truth is, if you really want to be a writer, you’re going to do it anyway, regardless of what anybody says.
If you’re serious about this pursuit, then stick with it, stay on the road, follow the occasional sign-posts that will pop up and you just might get to where you’re going.
ROLL OF THE DIE is my first novel, although I've been a writer for fourteen years. I have ten completed screenplays, two documentaries, an animated short and a graphic novel in the works.
I was a 2001 Finalist and 2004 Semi-Finalist for the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowship. I've had a project invited to the 2005 Sundance Institute Producers Conference, and have placed in a variety of writing competitions, including the Austin Film Festival, PAGE International, FADE IN Awards, Cynosure Screenwriting and Scriptapalooza.
I recently produced and directed two documentary short-subjects.
OUT OF MANY, about the struggles of a Learning Center in Kingston, Jamaica.
20/20 VISION, about the construction of an International Financial Center in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
I'm currently working on my second novel, ON THE BAYOU. An action-adventure in the swamps of Louisiana.