Posted on 07/18/2018 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Like many authors, Maureen Driscoll comes from a journalism background and was set on her future noveling path thanks to a series of dramatic life changes.
But her story also comes with a hefty dose of glitter — as in, a career as a Hollywood writer.
Driscoll will also tell you that some showbiz jobs aren’t all that glamorous (like writing infomercials), though the highs of such gigs as MADtv, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and BrainSurge make up for it.
We talked to Driscoll recently about how a press secretary in Congress goes from that to becoming an Emmy-nominated writer-producer and a historical-romance author.
SADYE: You decided to move to Los Angeles after a painful divorce. What prompted you to specifically seek a writing career there?
MAUREEN: I’ve always loved Hollywood. I’m fifty-five and went to middle school and high school in the days before VCRs.
There was a TV station which played old movies at 2 p.m. And on the days they’d show Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies, I’d conveniently get sick at school at noon.
My real love is acting, which I’ve been doing for the past five years. But, no, you haven’t seen me in anything yet.
Hopefully it’ll happen, but as an actor or writer in Hollywood, you hear the word “no” constantly. I’ve kind of become immune to it.
Never let “no” stop you from pursuing your dreams.
SADYE: Writing jobs in Hollywood aren’t exactly low-hanging fruit. How did you nab one?
MAUREEN: I got a job as a publicist at USA Network. While I’m terrible at networking, two of the people I worked with left to take jobs at a production company.
A while later they were looking for a writer for the game show Shop Til You Drop and gave me a call.
It was a terrific company, and I was very fortunate to work on several of their shows.
For the record, Shop Til You Drop isn’t the show with the shopping carts. It’s where you run around a fake mall.
SADYE: And then how did you shift to writing romance novels?
MAUREEN: I lost my job right as the recession hit. While I was trying to find work, I started reading romances, then it became a personal challenge to see if I could write one.
Then I really needed money because I worked very little for about two years.
I definitely don’t recommend self-publishing to become rich, especially now when the market is so crowded.
But at that time in my life every penny counted. I’m still on a tight budget, but if I see a penny on the street, I’ll pass it by. That wasn’t always the case.
I encourage everyone with a passion for it to write. It’s a great way to express yourself. I’ve learned a lot about the world and myself at the same time.
SADYE: What did you learn from showbiz that has translated well to your writing career?
MAUREEN: Never, ever, ever take anything personally. It’s good advice for all parts of your life, but especially as a writer.
The sooner you can take a critique for what it is — one person’s reaction to your writing and not an indictment of you as a person — the quicker you can be more successful at it.
Everyone needs a second opinion on what they’ve written, and some people have a special knack for giving notes.
My editor, Melanie Friedman, has an incredible skill of identifying what’s not working. Not everyone can do that. But it’s a necessary part of the process.
And if you do have someone you’re giving your work to and they’re just being mean, please stop giving them your work.
A good critique partner should be able to point out weaknesses in your story without making you want to cry and/or drink yourself into a stupor.
SADYE: You’re an Emmy-nominated television writer/producer and a successful romance novelist. Is it possible to pick a proudest moment?
MAUREEN: It happened very recently — I just sold a movie to the Hallmark Channel.
I’m over the moon about it because I love Hallmark. We’re in the earliest stages, so I can’t say more. But I’m so happy.
Making a movie has been a longtime dream of mine. It’s finally happening, a mere twenty-one years after I moved to Hollywood.
My advice: Be persistent and don’t give up on your dreams.
SADYE: Which romantic lead is your ultimate crush?
MAUREEN: Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy.
I’ll take him as Colin Firth or Matthew MacFadyen. But always Mr. Darcy.
SADYE: Speaking of crushes ... my very first one was actor Rider Strong, whose Boy Meets World co-star Danielle Fischel called you her “most favorite author of all things naughty and delicious.” Tell us millennials more about this!
MAUREEN: She’s amazing. I worked with her on a show on the Style Network called The Dish.
It was a spin-off of The Soup. She was the host and is one of the nicest, funniest people I’ve met out here.
And it was a kick to go out with her because someone always recognized her and you could see just how much she and Boy Meets World meant to them.
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Categories: Author Interview