An Interview with William D. Prystauk by Dean Sills
UKHS – Welcome to UKHS. Can you please tell us a little about yourself and who or what was your biggest influence in deciding to become a writer?
WDP – I’m a teacher, writer, podcaster, filmmaker, and sushi eater, and I originally lived in the shadows of the Twin Towers in New Jersey, USA. I’m grateful for being an award winning screenwriter, poet, and educator. Otherwise, I love history, and art in all its forms, though I prefer music, books, and films that are as non-commercial and as alternative as possible. Independent art that breaks with the norm is what captures my attention the most.
As a child, a long time ago when I had hair (long hair, mind you), I needed some sort of escape from reality, which seemed boring compared to the crazy worlds swirling in my head. Better still, I was a scrawny little kid, and the world was quite imposing. Thankfully, I discovered writing as an escape when I was six years old. My teacher at the time told us to rewrite the ending to a short story. I did and she loved it. That praise propelled me to indulge in letters and bring my own worlds to paper. At eight, my mom asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I said, “A writer!” I’ve been writing ever since. Most important, I had many an amazing teacher and the encouragement, along with family and friends, helped get me to where I am today.
UKHS – Congratulations on your first paperback novel ‘Bloodletting’. I know you have a great passion for horror so why did you decide to write a crime thriller instead of a nice gory horror novel and did you base any of the characters on real life people?
WDP – Thank you very much! You ready for a secret? Horror novels usually bore the hell out of me. For some reason, the terror the author is trying to convey often doesn’t resonate. Writing a horror would take some careful execution on my part. Plus, “Bloodletting” popped into my brain and I had to get it out.
Even though my book is not a horror, book reviewer Jonah Bergan stated, “‘Bloodletting’ is a crime novel in the vein of ‘Silence of the Lambs’…” and this was fantastic to hear. Another even said it would be perfect for SIN CITY fans. I hope those endorsements attract some horror fans. After all, the novel falls into the hard-boiled subgenre, and I tried to make the story as visceral and as brutally honest of a ride as possible, including some gore when needed.
I don’t like to put real people in my writing from a physical perspective. Usually, it’s more about essence of character, including idiosyncratic speech and personal fashion, if anything at all. However, the protagonist’s girlfriend, Puerto Rican Goth grrl, Penny Dallion, is sort of a melding of a friend of mine from college, along with Siouxsie Sioux, and the one-time drummer for the post-punk electronica band Indoor Life.
UKHS – You wrote and produced the short horror film ‘Too Many Predators’ When and how did you first get the idea for the screenplay and do you find it more rewarding writing a screenplay than a novel knowing your work will be on screen?
WDP – A sadly soon to be defunct website, MoviePoet.com, has a monthly screenwriting challenge, usually calling for a five-page script. I wrote TOO MANY PREDATORS for their September 2011 contest called, “The Undead” where at least one character had to be a “ghost, mummy, vampire, or zombie.” TOO MANY PREDATORS came out of that, and is now part of a much larger anthology I’m working on. Oddly enough, the man behind MoviePoet, Chris Messineo, is the proprietor of the New Jersey Film School, and his students made the short, along with professional actresses Shannon Kelly and Ella West. The coolest part for me was to watch special effects artist, Paul J. Mason. He worked on “The Walking Dead” promotional trailer, and he’s a true master craftsman. For the anthology I’m writing, everything will be spiced up with more blood and grit.
Since I was sixteen, all I ever wanted to do was write a novel. The problem was that I had trouble with storytelling and I was disappointed with the results. At one point, this became such a handicap that I gave up writing for about three years. At the end of that drought, I promised myself that my next story would be my last if it didn’t make sense. I wrote the tale as my first screenplay, and I was thrilled because I knew it worked. That script was BLOODLETTING. For the next twelve years, all I wrote were scripts until I entered the Creative Writing MFA Program at Wilkes University, and finally adapted the script into the novel.
I love screenwriting because they come about much faster. Writing-wise, it’s the equivalent of instant gratification. However, although I’ve won or placed well in several contests, producers are not buying up new material like they used to, which means I have to produce my own scripts, and that’s no easy task due to monetary costs and time.
“Bloodletting” the novel has proven to be far more rewarding because people are finally getting the chance to dive into the story (and with a password in the book they can gain access to the original screenplay). Of course there’s always the chance a producer or filmmaker will read the book and want to make it into a film, and that would be fabulous. I’d love to see the story come full circle.
UKHS – You spearhead the crashpalaceproductions.blog which I actually enjoy reading from time to time. When did you set the blog up and which horror films have you enjoyed reviewing the most?
WDP – My wife, Ally Bishop, encouraged me to begin the blog in May 2013. Though the site focuses on anything horror and filmmaking related, including lists and commentaries, the mainstay is the movie review in some format.
I enjoyed reviewing CRAWL OR DIE because Oklahoma Ward and Nicole M. Alonso had put their hearts, souls, and guts into the piece. In all honesty, I was concerned because most screeners people send me are awful, but I truly enjoyed the claustrophobic sci-fi experience they created. Writing the review was a joy, and I hope it helped hungry horror fans find the film.
The other favorite of mine is Richard Bates Jr.’s EXCISION from 2012. As an English teacher, to see his indie film, which relied on literary based imagery, blew my mind. I loved writing the review because the film has such amazing depth.
UKHS – Do you ever get writer’s Block?
WDP – Never. Actually, there’s no such thing. At one point, I called it “writer’s excuse,” but that’s not true either. Writers must realize that if they’re stuck on a story it’s because there may exist many different directions for them to take the story. The hang up is that even when the story’s in a writer’s head, they don’t realize that they’re still writing. The words just haven’t hit the page yet.
I’m thankful that I not only have a ton of ideas swimming in my brain, but eight years of marketing really helped. In marketing, I had to not only write on demand, but also be creative on the spot. Over time, that taught me to dive in and write with abandon. Granted, not every idea or story is gold, but that’s why revision is so vital to the writing process.
Make up artist Paul J Mason & Actress Shannon Kelly
UKHS – When you are not writing, you co-host ‘The Last Knock’ horror podcast. Can you please tell us a little about this and what do you enjoy the most about working with your co-host Jonny Numb?
WDP – Once again, my wife prompted me to start a horror podcast, and to invite Jonny on as the co-host. She knew I had an intense love for the genre, and at that point, I was reviewing horror films on Crash Palace Productions. She had heard Jonny and I talk in depth about horror on many occasions, and she knew we took it seriously.
I love working with Jonny because of his dry humor and wit. He also has a background in English Literature, and like me, wants to find those incredible horror films that rise above the mundane, such as JUG FACE or ANTIVIRAL, for example. Jonny’s just a blast, and we love doing the podcast.
We began the weekly show in May 2013, and recently passed our 100th episode.We either review films (the best are the ones where Jonny and I disagree, of course), or we look at specific horror filmmakers in our “Director of the Damned” series, or actors in “Thespians of Terror”, or we’ll have shows with a general theme, like “sci-fi horrors” or something. I’ve also had the pleasure of interviewing filmmakers such as the legendary Stuart Gordon (RE-ANIMATOR), and the great Mike “Madman” Mendez (BIG ASS SPIDER), as well as independent directors David Paul Baker (“Crime Lord”) and Oklahoma Ward (CRAWL OR DIE), among others.
In addition, I’ve spoken with actors Nicole M. Alonso (CRAWL OR DIE), Maria Olsen (HAPPY ENDINGS), Denise Gossett (also the director of Shriekfest), and Owen McCuen (LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW), as well as horror authors Latashia Figueroa (“This Way Darkness”), The Keeper from Rivers of Grue (multiple short stories), Stephen Kozeniewski (“Braineater Jones”), and M. F. Wahl (“Disease”). Even famed horror artist, Shane Tyree came on the show. But I’m jealous of Jonny because he interviewed Jessica Cameron. Bastard.
UKHS – Finally, where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
WDP – My horror crime book series, “The City of Bloody Love” should be well under way. The story’s based on my award-winning screenplay, RED AGENDA. In 2008, the script came in as a Top-Five Finalist at Screamfest, and was the First Place Winner at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival. I hope the first book captures the imagination of horror and paranormal fans. Moreover, I want to write a sequel to “Bloodletting.”
As for filmmaking, I’d love to make two low-budget features. I’m working on the scripts, now. One is a dramatic science fiction, and the other is what I call a “non-slasher slasher film”, which will include a very disturbing climax never seen in horror before.
Either way, I hope to entertain people through novels, films, and podcasts. Man, it would be great to have a studio to record the podcast in – or even an actual cable show with guests and an audience. We’ll have to see what happens!
UKHS – Thank you for your time and keep up the great work!
WDP – Thank you very much for having me. I’m honored!
Amazon Author Page:
Barnes and Noble:
Goodreads Author Page: :
TOO MANY PREDATORS: http://vimeo.com/54583103
BLOODLETTING cover (cover photograph from Lliam Amor)
Ella West star of TOO MANY PREDATORS (photo William D. Prystauk)
SFX makeup artist Paul J. Mason and TOO MANY PREDATORS star Shannon Kelly
(photo William D. Prystauk)
Crash Palace Productions logo
William D. Prystauk (photo Ally Bishop)