Posted on March 13, 2020 at 11:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Today we're interviewing Burt Weissbourd, a novelist, screenwriter, and producer of feature films.
After graduating from college, he wrote, directed, and produced educational films for Gilbert Altschul Productions, then later started his own film production company in Los Angeles.
He managed that company from 1977 until 1986, producing films including Ghost Story, starring Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Patricia Neal, and Raggedy Man, starring Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard.
He has since founded an investment business, which he still runs, and now writes character-driven thriller novels, most recently Danger in Plain Sight.
SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?
BURT: I was a film producer developing screenplays with great writers (Andy Lewis – Klute, Freddy Raphael – Two for the Road, Stewart Stern – Rebel Without a Cause, to name a few), and these writers kept coming back to work with me again.
That’s when I slowly began to understand that perhaps I could write. I wrote and made deals on several screenplays, then I tried novels.
It took a while to get one published, but I kept after it in spite of many rejections. Once the first one was published, the others came fairly quickly.
SADYE: What has been the most touching or memorable piece of reader feedback you’ve received?
BURT: The most rewarding/memorable feedback I got was from a woman in one of my early writing classes.
She was a prominent NYC psychoanalyst and read my first published novel (Inside Passage) before it was published.
One of the protagonists in that book was a psychiatrist/therapist, and I wrote a section in which he described his own long, difficult and finally successful therapy.
The analyst in my class asked me if she could excerpt it and give it to her own patients to read.
SADYE: What message or theme would you like readers to take away from your work?
BURT: I’d like readers to understand and value the importance of self awareness.
Further, I’d like to help them learn to differentiate between genuine self awareness and imagined, often contrived or fabricated wishful awareness.
SADYE: What have been the most surprising, rewarding, and challenging parts of your writing career?
BURT: The most rewarding part of writing for me has been learning to write, rewrite, then rewrite again until you know that you’ve written precisely what you hoped for, and found exactly the emotional complexity you were reaching for.
Most surprising has been how characters take over when you’re writing really well and go down unexpected paths to unintended, often more complex, more satisfying outcomes than you anticipated.
Most challenging has been getting film and TV decision makers actually read a complicated, emotionally unexpected book.
SADYE: What experience in your past or general aspect of your life has most affected your writing?
BURT: The experience that most affected my writing was, as a movie producer, working with wonderful screenwriters.
I saw how hard it was for even the most talented writers to get it right. How many missteps, how many rewrites, how hard it was to set the bar at perfection and how difficult it was to reach it.
I stuck with it, supporting them to go as far toward that bar as they could, and learned that as you got more experienced, you grew more confident that you could reach what you were going for and, as importantly, know when you had it.
It was invaluable when I began writing to believe and finally know that if I kept at it, rewrote and then rewrote again, I could get where I wanted to go, know when I got there, and happily move on to the next project.
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Categories: Author Interview