My name is D.K. Hundt, but you can call me Deb. I’ve lived in 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 (I was 15) while visiting my Norwegian great-grandmother Alma 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 worked as a screenwriter for Paramount pictures out in Austin Texas, re-writing screenplays.
When she told me that Warren helped work on 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:
“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.”
Warren wrote to me a few more times after that fall day in 1987, the last item I received was a card in the mail dated January 10, 1991 – an invitation to his memorial. I didn’t know he had cancer. If my great-grandmother knew of Warren’s illness, she’d kept it from me, though the truth is, Warren kept his illness from a lot of people.
I was devastated.
Twenty-eight 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. Today, I have my bachelor’s degree in hand and a lot of hope in my heart.
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”, and they’re right.
I haven’t had any of writing published 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, and Stephen King, 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, Alma (my great-grandgrandmother), Indeborg, Lars, Morris (Warren’s father, he looks just like him) and Julius Skaaren.
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.
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