How does a writer (or anyone for that matter) describe themselves without sounding entirely and utterly cliché??? I have no idea, so here you go…
My authorial name is D.K. Hundt, but you can call me Deb. I’ve lived in Northern California my whole life, started reading Stephen King books at the age of ten, and have been hooked on horror ever since.
As a shy, overweight, pimply-faced, braces wearing teenager in the 80s, I had a solid dozen never to be finished WIP to call my own.
I was waiting for the day when the great King of horror himself, in spirit form, would whisper sweet inspiration in the ear of my writing muse, thus prompting me to crank out hundreds of award-winning novels.
Yeah. That never happened. But I wasn’t ready to give up.
It was during the summer of 1986 while visiting my Norwegian great-grandmother Alma Skaaren-Olsgard that I first heard the name Warren Skaaren, the writer.
Immediately my ears perked up, and I eagerly began probing my grandmother for information. Writer? Where does he live? Do you think he would mind if I wrote to him?
My grandmother told me, too casually I must say, that her nephew works as a screenwriter for Paramount pictures out in Austin Texas, re-writing screenplays.
When she told me that Warren helped rewrite the screenplay for Beetlejuice, Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop 2, Crimson Eagle, Tim Burton’s Batman starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and Days of Thunder – I think I blacked out for a few seconds.
Well, the address my grandmother eventually gave me was that of her brother Morris and sister-n-law Pearl, Warren’s parents, but my letters finally got to him.
I have to tell you, like a fangirl high on Fan Fiction, my eyes gleamed at the manila envelope before me, as I screeched to my mother “He actually wrote me back!”
I couldn’t believe it.
His first letter to me, dated Sept. 27, 1987, was the catalyst to my hopeful writing career.
In the last paragraph he wrote:
“Debbie, I encourage you to take part in Drama at high school.
It does not mean you have to become an actress or work behind the scenes forever, but it is very important to understand how people throughout history have tried to express their feelings and hopes through creative acts like music and painting etc.
I have found it personally very rewarding to be able to do that in my life, and it turns out that I can make a living at it too…but the main thing is to try. Just for the experience.”
It was official, I had just met the second writer in my life who inspired me to never give up on my dream, and then he died.
I didn’t know Warren had cancer. I didn’t even know he died until I received a card in the mail dated January 10, 1991 – an invitation to his memorial.
I was devastated.
Though I never took drama in high school as Warren suggested, I did play the flute horribly, and kept on writing well into junior college where I received verbal accolades about my writing from all of my English teachers, except one, who instead chose to make fun of me in front of the entire class because I used the word “simplistic” incorrectly.
You have to remember, I was a shy and quiet teenager when I entered junior college and being called out in front of the class for a writing mistake was a huge blow, in my mind, to any potential I may have had to become a writer, so I quit writing and earned my Associates of General Education Degree.
Did I take what she said to the extreme? Most definitely, and I’ve regretted it ever since.
Then one day, some twenty years later, I was looking fondly over those letters Warren wrote to me – now brown with age – and said to myself “If not now when?” I’m not getting any younger.
So, in 2014 I applied to Southern New Hampshire University to get my BA degree in Creative Writing with an emphasis on Fiction.
As my father and the King of horror would probably tell you “No, you don’t need to go to college to become a writer,” but for me, it really helped to keep me focused.
Today, I have my bachelor’s degree in hand at the age of fort…, and an ironclad beginning of my first WIP novel, Cheveyo, which I hope to have finished by the end of this year and start sending out query letters.
Does having a degree in Creative Writing make me an expert on this art form?
Absolutely not, and I would be lying if I said otherwise. But, I have learned a lot and I honestly feel I’m better for it.
I’m a pantser, not a plotter, so creating outlines in the early stages of writing doesn’t do anything for me. Usually, a bit of dialogue from a nameless and faceless character will pop into my brain (for some reason in the shower) and then a scene is played out that eventually turns into a story.
I haven’t published any of my writing yet, but, like Warren said in a letter he wrote to a teenager he never met in person so long ago, “…the main thing is to try.”
Thank you, Warren, for being my inspiration.
Below you will find photos of the letters Warren wrote to me and a couple from a Biography written about Warren that was published in 2017 titled Rewrite Man: The Life and Career of Screenwriter Warren Skaaren written by *Alison Macor.
From left to right: Lewis Skaaren, Alma Skaaren Olsgaard (my great-grandgrandmother) Indeborg Skaaren, Lars Skaaren, Morris Skaaren (Warren’s father, he looks just like him) and Julius Skaaren.
Above: His Last Letter To Me
*Please Note: I don’t personally know Alison Macor and was never asked, nor did I receive any royalties or monetary gain from mentioning this book in my blog, but it’s a damn good down to earth read about the life and times (good and bad) of a screenwriter. Seriously. Check it out.