Thursday, December 23, 2010

Interviewing Deborah Painter

Today, I am interviewing fellow author and good friend, Deborah Painter about her and her new book, Forry, the Life of Forrest J. Ackerman.

Pamela: Please tell us about your latest book.

Deborah: Forry: The Life of Forrest J Ackerman, from McFarland & Company, Incorporated, Publishers, was published in November 2010 and sold out its first printing before December. More will be printed. I credit that to the immense popularity of the loving, kind, funny and tremendously intelligent subject of the book. It was intended as an intimate biography of Mr. Science Fiction, the guy who coined the term “Sci-Fi:”

If Jules Verne is the father of Science Fiction and Mary Shelley is the mother, Forrest J Ackerman is definitely one of their children. A collector extraordinaire, an author, agent, editor, archivist, historian, public speaker, actor, and promoter, Forry’s influence on generations is inestimable. He was wearing costumes to conventions when no one else was; literally, he and his girlfriend Myrtle Douglas invented science fiction convention costuming for the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939. Forry was the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, published by James Warren’s Warren Publishing Company, among four other magazines. He was the recipient of the “Grimmy” from the televised Horror Hall of Fame in 1990, and he was the first person ever to be awarded a Hugo Award in 1953 at that year’s Worldcon. He received the award for Number One Fan Personality. He created “Vampirella”.

I could go on about the amazing things this man did. But instead of just talking about him and writing articles about him, as I have done for many, many years, I wrote this book.

McFarland’s book description is: “Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008) was an author, archivist, agent, actor, promoter, and editor of the iconic fan magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland; a founder of science fiction fandom; and one of the world’s foremost collectors of sci-fi, horror and fantasy films, literature, and memorabilia. This biography begins with a foreword by Joe Moe, Ackerman’s caregiver and close friend since 1982. It documents Ackerman’s lifelong dedication to his work in both literature and film; his interests, travels, relationships and associations with famous personalities; and his lasting impact on popular culture. Primary research material includes letters given by Ackerman to the author during their long friendship, and numerous reminiscences from Ackerman’s friends, fans and colleagues.”

Pamela: What can we expect from you in the future?

Deborah: In the near future, I am finishing a book on horses in film; a critical examination of what the horse symbolizes. Also, plenty of magazine articles and books!!

Pamela: What motivated you to start writing?

Deborah: I can’t remember a time when I did not write. I was dictating stories to my parents and older siblings when I was six. When I learned to actually write, I would create little stories illustrated with crayon and bound together with yarn. Oscar the Owl’s Life is a very early, unpublished work.

Pamela: What kind of research do you do?

Deborah: For my day job, I research wetlands, streams, topography and soils for wetland delineations and water quality permitting purposes, and do detailed reports on the environmental impacts of a project on its human and nonhuman surroundings, for Federal documents. For my freelance writing, I research film history, film technology, animals, equitation, geology, history and paleontology.

Pamela: Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

Deborah: I just go with the flow.

Pamela: Where do your ideas come from?

Deborah: Everywhere…..people I talk to and places I visit.

Pamela: Who, if anyone, has influenced your writing?

Deborah: My father, Floyd Eugene Painter, my mother, Kay Sewell Painter, and Forrest James Ackerman, all wrote. My mother was a poet (unpublished, I am sad to say) and my father wrote journal articles for archaeological publications and wrote several books on archaeology. Daddy and Mama nurtured my love of books, bought plenty of them for me, and encouraged me to write. I used them as role models in my writing. Forry Ackerman helped me get started in magazines and kept on featuring my works in his magazines and I used him as a role model as well.

Pamela: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Deborah: Yes!

Pamela: What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

Deborah: Sharing what I have discovered and finding out that there are others like my subject matter as much as I do!

Pamela: Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)

Deborah: I grew up in the Navy town of Norfolk, Virginia and my father was a marine engineer and archaeologist. My mother was a homemaker. I have a brother and a sister. I earned two degrees in biology from Old Dominion University and my hobbies are photography, rock and fossil collecting, horseback riding, monster movies and studying metaphysics.

Pamela: Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

Deborah: There will be people in your life that will not understand your writing or why you want to do it; will resent the time you spend doing it, and will say your writing is stupid or that there are better things you should be doing with your time. Ignore the criticism. Keep on working and believe in your work and yourself. Do your homework; find out about markets and connect with the publishers.

Pamela: Tell us your website, MySpace, Blog, any urls so the readers can find out more about you.

Deborah: I talk too much about myself in Deborah Painter’s Writing News, which is my web site, and I also have a Facebook page: Look for me with the sunglasses standing next to a motion picture actor, also in shades.

13.) Now for something fun:

Pamela: Chocolate or vanilla?

Deborah: Chocolate.

Pamela: Favorite thing to do?

Deborah: A walk in the woods or comfy indoors front of a fire? A walk in the woods. Hey, I’m a wetland scientist!! My problem is that I like to eat chocolate before and after the walk.

Pamela: All time favorite book?

Deborah: Cases of the Reincarnation Type: Twelve Cases in Thailand and Burma by Ian Stevenson.

Pamela: Favorite color?

Deborah: Green.

Pamela: Do you like science fiction, fantasy or horror?

Deborah: If I did not like them, I certainly would never have written so much coverage of science fiction, fantasy and horror conventions and films/television over the years, and would never have heard of Forry Ackerman. Perish the thought!!

Pamela: All time favorite actor?

Deborah: Lon Chaney Senior.

Pamela: Actress?

Deborah: Jean Harlow.

Pamela: Favorite TV show?

Deborah: My Favorite Martian. A fun and underrated series well acted by Bill Bixby and Ray Walston. There is a lot of wisdom in that TV program.

Pamela: Favorite Movie?

Deborah: Gee, there are so many great films. If I have to pick just one, I will go with King Kong. I mean the 1933 RKO Radio version with Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong. (Is there another version?) I love the picture for its intrinsic qualities… it’s just an excellent piece of cinema. It’s a perfectly paced adventure movie with a magnificent score. I feel a personal connection to it, too, through the many times I visited the stop motion animation models used in the film, the brontosaurus, pteranodon, stegosaurus and one of the Kong models.

Pamela: What makes you laugh out loud?

Deborah: Stupid (clean) jokes and funny animal antics.

Pamela: If you could go anywhere in the universe where would that be?

Deborah: I want to go to Los Feliz Boulevard near Griffith Park, Los Angeles, and look at the mountains looming up in front of me as I head east toward Glendale.

Pamela: A secret desire?

Deborah: That’s what it is! Secret.

Buy the book at

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