Q&A With Daniel Sweren-Becker

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Q&A With Daniel Sweren-Becker 

The wonderful Heather Drucker sent me an early copy of the book Kill Show by Daniel Sweren-Becker. I began it three days ago and finished it at almost 1 am Thursday. I have the honor of doing this Q&A with Daniel Sweren-Becker. Daniel’s book Kill Show comes out on October 3rd of this year his other books The Ones & The Equals are available to read now. On top of being an author Daniel is a television writer and playwright living in LA! 

Q: Daniel for those who haven’t read the book, would you like to tell the readers of the blog a little bit about your book Kill Show,& how you came up with the idea for the book?

A:  Kill Show is supposed to feel like a cliché missing girl thriller, but it’s really about the people from Hollywood who descend on a small town and try to turn the tragedy into entertainment.  

There is a real crime that has taken place, but the book focuses on the making of a television show, and how this show changes the lives of everyone involved.  

Like so many others, I have been a big True Crime fan.  But over the years I started to think more and more about the ethical gray areas of this genre, specifically for the creators (authors, podcasters, filmmakers).  Is their goal to tell the truth, or the best story?  How do they balance those opposing ideas?  And what are the costs – emotionally, psychologically – to devoting one’s career to document these real life tragedies?  

I was spending so much time thinking about this stuff that I decided I had to write a book to dramatize these questions.

Q: Where do your ideas for your books come from? 

A: I never know where exactly, but usually it’s a combination of me reading something interesting in the news, and then finding myself in debates about that subject.  If something has stuck in my head enough for me to argue about it with friends, it’s a good sign that there is a compelling, multi-dimensional story to tell.  At that point, I try to think of a new angle or gimmick I can tack on to make the story totally unique.  

Q: As well as being an author you write for TV and you’re a playwright and your play Stress Positions premiered at the SoHo Playhouse in New York! It’s all so impressive! Which tv shows have you written for? 

A:  I started my career writing for TV comedies, specifically The Inbetweeners on MTV, and Malibu Country on ABC.  I was able to sell some TV shows of my own, but none of them ever made it to the airwaves.  It was a lot of fun, especially the team element of writing on TV shows.  The business side, however, was so frustrating and unpredictable.  Now I love working in the book world.  Once a publisher buys a book, they always put it out!

Q: Have you written TV scripts for your own books yet? 

A:  None of my books have been turned into TV series yet, but I have certainly thought about how I would like to adapt them.  Based on some wheels that are already in motion, I am optimistic I will have that opportunity with Kill Show.  It would be such a blast to see talented actors bring these characters to life.  

Q: What is your advice to anyone wanting to pursue a career in writing whether its writing for television, being a playwright or being an author? How do you manage to juggle it all? 

A:  I think the first step is to be a voracious reader and consumer of whatever you are passionate about.  Being an expert in the tropes, vocabulary, and history of a genre is invaluable.  Then you have to nurture your passion for the work, which means being really intentional and disciplined about carving out time to be productive.  And you have to find the balance between being good cop/bad cop with yourself.  In other words, accept that you will make mistakes, but keep pushing to make things excellent.  

My strategy for juggling multiple projects is pretty basic: I can really only work on the idea I am most excited about, so that’s what I do, regardless of whether it’s the right career strategy.  Whatever idea you are thinking about as you fall asleep and wake up is the one that’s going to get done first.  

Q: Where is your favorite spot or spots to sit down and plot, write and edit your work?

A:  I pretty much have to do all my writing in my home office, where everything is set up for me to work comfortably with no excuses, big desk, fancy chair, pajama dress code.  Anywhere else, I’ll get distracted or fidgety.  

The one exception is when I am brainstorming, before I’m ready to write.  For that, I need to be walking, preferably around the Silver Lake reservoir in my neighborhood. And then, if I come up with a breakthrough, I’ve earned a treat.  

Q: If you are currently writing your next book, can you spoil any details or is it too early to reveal anything as of yet?

A: I am outlining my next book right now.  Relative to Kill Show, it will be much more about love than death.  I know that sounds like a cheerier theme, but somehow I think it will be sadder!