Tuesday, June 9, 2015

IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS with William D. Prystauk

My guest author today is William D. Prystauk. Mr. Prystauk is an award winning screenwriter, filmmaker, podcaster, and educator. 

(Lynda) William, please tell us a little about yourself and your writing journey.

(William) I began writing stories in first grade when I still had hair. My hard-boiled crime thriller, BLOODLETTING, is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bloodletting-William-D-Prystauk-ebook/dp/B00RB8FLZS. Currently, I teach English as an assistant professor at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. When not writing, I’m busy co-hosting The Last Knock horror podcast on iTunes. I enjoy life with my wife, author and editor Ally Bishop, and our two puppies, Suki and Karma. I’m proud of my alternative music and horror movie collections, and the fact that I never leave any sushi behind. The half-hou crime thriller I directed, CASE #5930, is in post-production, and the short family drama I wrote and directed, TIGERS IN THE SOUP, recently appeared in its first film festival.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, What would I sincerely feel about editing, and editors?

(William) Thanks to my respect for teachers, and from the teamwork associated with all my years of marketing, I love editors. This is because I know the editor has only one thing in mind – my story. The goal is to make certain that the writer presents the best story possible, so to have an editor as a teammate is ideal.

When I originally wrote BLOODLETTING, it was a mere 70,000 words, but soon ballooned to a hefty 120,000, and after editing with a mentor came in at 94,000. Two years later when the manuscript was accepted for publication, my editor, Gerald Baude, helped me bring it down to a respectable 80,000. Yes, I had to rewrite to maintain a strong narrative, and I had to cut many scenes, but I knew my editor’s recommendations were solid. Better still, every writer has writing weaknesses, and Gerald caught mine every time. In the end, I had a fast paced manuscript that made sense for the main tale as well as the subplots. (Plus, I am even better prepared for my next book since I view my editor’s work as a master class in manuscript preparation.)

The point every writer needs to remember is that we are simply too close to our own projects, and regardless of how long we put the manuscript aside, we need that objective editor to help us reign in the narrative. Most important, and I must admit that I hate this term, writers are not “killing their darlings” during the editing process. The entire novel is the “darling” and we must focus on the overall tale.

Thanks to Gerald and his commitment to the narrative, BLOODLETTING is the best hard-boiled crime thriller it can be.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I also read a lot, if so, how do I fit that into my schedule and why is it important to me?

(William) As an assistant professor at a university who has had the pleasure of teaching over 3,000 students in nine years, all of my best writers are also avid readers. As a writer, I read as much as I can from Internet postings and magazines to novels. Granted, I am a slow reader, and due to my teaching commitment, I can only truly indulge in book reading during breaks, but I know reading strengthens my writing muscles.

For writers it’s important to read as many books in the genre they are writing for. This doesn’t mean the writer should emulate other authors, but there are expectations within each genre and writer must know them. As with the rules of writing, it’s important for prospective authors to know the rules of the genre before breaking them, if need be.

In order to write well, one must always read well.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I also have other hobbies, if so, what kind?
(William) Since I was sixteen, I had always wanted to write and publish a novel. However, my skills were quite awful at the time. I may have had great story ideas, but I had issues with storytelling. Once I realized I had been producing the equivalent of garbage, I took a break from writing for almost three years. During that time I read, and decided as a final act, to write a screenplay. Writing scripts taught me most everything I needed to know about storytelling, and for over a decade I had the pleasure of creating award-winning scripts. In fact, before writing any novel, I write the screenplay first, which serves as what I call a “glorified outline.” Writing the book becomes the equivalent of “coloring in the numbers.”

However, regardless of awards, it is rare to sell a spec script these days. This is why I have also become a filmmaker. To date, I have produced several short films, and directed two others. I hope to direct a dramatic science fiction of mine in the near future, as well as a character based dramatic horror from a fellow screenwriter.

Otherwise, I love photography. My subject of choice is abandoned architectural structures, and my work is available for sale at Just Around the Corner, a local art gallery in Easton, Pennsylvania. Taking pictures has proven enjoyable because I can tell a story in one photograph, and unlike screenwriting and novel writing, which take time to create, photography is akin to instant gratification.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Do I write for myself or my readers?

(William) If I wrote for myself, I wouldn’t have attempted to become a published author. I had always wanted to share stories, and BLOODLETTING has given me that chance. With this crime thriller, my intent was to keep it as hard-boiled as possible with as much realistic grit as a story based in New York City could have to keep it genuine. I also wanted to incorporate story elements from the fringe and alternative subcultures that are either overlooked or stereotyped to the point of becoming a sad joke.

I want to introduce seasoned mystery readers to something new beyond the traditional scope of the crime thriller, while satisfying those readers who live outside the norm with a book that respects their world.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I have a website or blog? If so, where can they be found? Do I offer promo features for other writers on my blog?

(William) I have a horror website called Crash Palace Productions (www.crashpalaceproductions.com), which features movie reviews, stories about filmmakers, and interviews with horror authors, actors, and directors. The main focus is to find thematic value in horror, and I approach the genre in as much of an intelligent vein as possible. The goal is to present the validity of horror instead of a childish or even disposable genre. People can even find links to my horror podcast.

I welcome horror based articles from writers, and they can contact me through the website, or message me on the Crash Palace Productions Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/crashpalaceproductions), or on Twitter at @crashpalace. In addition, I love interviewing horror authors and would love to have more on my show.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I be doing lots of research?

(William) A colleague told me that I did more research for BLOODLETTING than she had for her dissertation to earn her PhD. I indulged in heavy research because I do my best to be as accurate as possible. After all, writers should never skimp – there’s always someone somewhere who knows when we’ve shirked our duties in the research department, and this can clearly undermine our stories.

To make BLOODLETTING work, I not only revisited New York City’s Greenwich Village on several occasions, but I reviewed hundreds of “street level” maps on Google as well as satellite maps. I interviewed a former New York homicide detective, an active duty police officer, and even a private investigator. To capture the minute details of the story, I also interviewed a former nun, and a water specialist, as well as several others. I read at least two-dozen fictional crime books as well as non-fiction works, including New York City police procedure, and studied noir films as well as alternative music. The list definitely goes on, but I wanted to present a novel readers could believe: a fictional story that could have taken place in reality.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I take manuscript rejections well. And how do I feel about reviews, both good and not-so-good?

(William) I tell my student writers that if they cannot handle rejection to either just write for themselves or find another way to express themselves. Coping with rejection is part of the process. However, if a writer’s work is strong enough, someone should ultimately want that piece. Although BLOODLETTING had been rejected from some large publishing houses because they weren’t sure how to market the book, three small publishers ultimately offered contracts. It was wonderful to be in a position where I had to choose.

Positive reviews are fantastic, of course, because all writers need validation, though it is more important to know that one’s work has connected with readers. I certainly do not mind negative reviews as long as they have value, just as the positive reviews must. The art of writing can never be mastered, but writers can certainly improve, and a well-constructed review can definitely help a writer with his or her craft.

(Lynda Asks:) IF I WERE YOU AND WROTE BOOKS, Would I have preferred to live and write in a different era than the present?

(William) When Woody Allen’s film MIDNIGHT IN PARIS came out, I thought he had written it for me. I love F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, because I had taken a course about them, which ultimately propelled me to embrace literature on a grand scale, and to earn my masters in English. I also enjoy Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, and more, and loved the verve and vigor of the post-Great War era. To be an expatriate writing in Paris in the 1920s would have been amazing. Everything seemed to be carved out of solid stone, steel, or wood at the time – and I would have found a lack of plastic thrilling.

Amazon "Bloodletting” hard-boiled crime thriller: http://amzn.to/1DotLMV
Podcast: "The Last Knock" on iTunes


  1. Hi, Lynda! Thank you so very much for this wonderful interview! I am truly appreciative. Be well and continued success! Yours, Bill

    1. Thank you for being my guest today and lots of success with your writing.

  2. Thank you, Lynda, and you as well!

  3. Great interview! I love your style, Bill.

    1. Thank you so very much, Susabelle! I am most grateful!