My good friend and regular Dark Discoveries contributor William F. Nolan has the lead interview and cover spot in the latest issue of Locus magazine. Congratulations Bill!!! Here’s the link to an excerpt of it and I’d encourage everybody to pick this one up!
It’s great to see Bill getting some props and I hope it brings even more attention to his work. Word is he’s also got a brand new collection of Fiction coming out very soon – as well as a deluxe treatment of Logan’s Run. He also has a great new anthology co-edited with Jason V Brock, The Devil’s Coattails (http://darkdiscoveries.1freecart.com/c/95521/other-publishers-cycatrix-press-jasunni-productions.htm). And of course the chapbook we did with Bill, A Nolan Miscellany (http://darkdiscoveries.1freecart.com/i/197720/william-f-nolan-a-miscellany-signed-limited-edition-chapbook.htm)
So Bill is definitely still keeping busy these days. And along the lines of Nolan’s new interview in Locus, here’s a portion of an interview I did with him a while back for Dark Discoveries:
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE RENAISSANCE MAN, WILLIAM F. NOLAN
By James R. Beach
(A longer version of this interview originally appeared in Dark Discoveries #12, Fall 2008)
Dark Discoveries: How long have you been writing?
William Nolan: Professionally for over half a century. Made my first sale early in 1954 and by 1955 I began to sell on a steady basis. I’ve made some 1,700 sales by now. Actually, I began writing fiction when I was ten. Filled school tablets with a lot of really terrible stories. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing at that age. By 1951, I discovered how to handle the mechanics of writing. I’ve always had a good ear for dialogue. Even in high school back in Kansas City I wrote really good dialogue. But there’s a lot more to writing beyond dialogue. The average person thinks he or she can write, but they have no idea of the real craft. How to plot, how to create character, how to build suspense, how to handle the climax of the story, etc., etc. You don’t become a writer over the weekend.
DD: You’ve written quite a bit for the movies and TV over the years, the more famous of your output being Burnt Offerings, Turn of the Screw and Trilogy of Terror. What’s the story behind Death Drive, the original screenplay that was never filmed, but recently published by Hellbound Books?
WN: Death Drive was originally written for director William Friedkin, who also loved my screenplay, but was suddenly called to New York to direct The French Connection – which put Death Drive into limbo. He never returned to direct it, so I had it published as a book with Hellbound. A shame it never made it to the screen!
Every writer who’s worked in the film and TV industry has a load of unproduced scripts. I was scripting for 33 years, so I have my share. Of the 40-odd scripts I wrote for film and TV, some 20 were produced. That’s a very high average in an industry that sees only one in ten scripts produced. The Floating Dragon situation was particularly distressing to me. It was a 2-night script, approved (with enthusiasm) by all of the execs at NBC. Then, when it was just a week away from production the entire group of network execs at NBC were fired! And that ended Floating Dragon on TV! I got $80,000 for writing it and would have made another $80,000 had it been produced. Alas, that never happened.
As for “still-in-option” projects, Logan’s Run will be produced in a new version by Warner Bros. It’s now in pre-production at the studio.
DD: You’ve donned the Editor’s coat at various times in your career, doing an anthology with Charles Beaumont, as well as a few for Playboy, Cemetery Dance, and others. How does it feel to be on the other side? Did you enjoy editing? How did it help your writing or did it?
WN: I’ve edited over 25 books, and have been editorially associated with half a dozen magazines. I very much enjoy the role of editor. And it has helped me to become a better writer. Editing is simply another form of creativity.
DD: You were a member of the famed writing Rat Pack in Southern California back in the 50’s and 60’s, known simply as “The Group”. This featured legendary writers like Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Chad Oliver, George Clayton Johnson, Harlan Ellison, Dennis Etchison, Charles Fritch, and others. What happened to the group? Are you still friends with any of them? How much did they influence your growth as a writer?
WN: The group scattered with the death of Charles Beaumont in the 1960’s. We each went our separate ways after Chuck died; he was the “hub” that kept us all together. I’m still very close friends with Bradbury and Matheson. Chad Oliver and Bloch are deceased. All of them had a profound influence on my writing. I learned from each of them – as they learned from me. It was a marvelous time, with that group in the 1950’s.
DD: Looking back on your lengthy career, are you happy with how things have gone and with what you have accomplished? Anything you wish you could do differently?
WN: I’m quite content with my position in writing. Things have gone well in my career. Had I just one item on my list, Logan’s Run, I’d be satisfied. How many writers have a world icon project to their credit? Why would I change anything? It’s been a great life!