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From Inside the Flap EBook Format
EBook FormatTrue stories from John Klawitter, Hollywood writer-producer-director. Whether you’re pitching some famous old witch doctor who owns a big animation production company, or sending a query letter to a 25-year-old cannibal prince who lucked into being the head of acquisitions at a giant publishing conglomerate, the stories of discovery and survival in TINSEL WILDERNESS can be a source of inspiration and encouragement. From the book-lined offices of Random House and Doubleday to the West Coast movie studios with their wide views of palm trees and the blue Pacific, the wilderness is a strange place for those not expecting the weird, the unpredictable and the rough-and-tumble. To you, storytelling is as important as life itself. But to the natives it’s often little more than trinkets and beads they can exchange for furs and scraps of meat. The trick is, you don’t want to be the meat. As the natives often say with a wise nod of the head, It’s too late to moo when you’re hamburger. You’re a talented person, a creative writer, an artist in your own right. So as you take the first steps off the beaten path and into the tall grass toward the distant blue mountains, remember to stay alert, keep your weapons handy, and always expect the unexpected...you’re in the TINSEL WILDERNESS.
Winner of the 2009 Eppie for Non-Fiction, General:
“The real stuff of Hollywood. What it’s really like to write, produce and direct in the industry.”
“Glorious Broadsides! Harold looks down from the pearly gates beaming approval!”
“I can’t wait to read it!”
“I can still beat you at racquetball.”
“And I can draw better than you.”
“Tinsel Wilderness is really the nuts and bolts, the smell and feel and taste of the Hollywood I know.”
“It is all very lively and, I think, very useful. Thank you for including the stuff about me”
“Anyone who reads the book feels it's taken from the authentic fabric of a life, and finds it is just as much about the anonymous "Chinese grandmothers" as the stars like Natalie Wood. Aside from the priceless info on the ins and outs of the industry, there's a lot that stays with the reader.”
“I hate writing. It’s hard work. You have to pay me to do it.”
“Writing’s easy…relationships are hard.”
“You writers are all the same. You say, ‘Pay me and I will write for you.’ Where’s the love there?”
“So some day you’re going to write this down and you think people are actually going to read it? (The year is 1969. The wiry old man looks up at me and grins as he doodle-sketches a squiggily bird with long legs and goof-ball eyes on a cel on the animation desk in front of him) Well, remember Babbitt is spelled with two ‘t’s’”
Tinsel Wilderness is one of the most inspirational books I’ve read in a very long time, and it was with a feeling of exhilaration that I edited these wonderful stories by John Klawitter. As I read one true story after another, I felt like an explorer having come upon exquisite treasure, or a kid on Christmas morning.
We are, in many ways, living through a time in history filled with much bad news and very little inspiration. Grace and manners have been tossed aside in favor of rudeness and petty bickering. Major news channels cover the bickering of celebrities alongside--and, in some cases, in place of--harsh world realities that really matter. Tinsel Wilderness offers quiet, thoughtful refuge from all that.
John Klawitter remarked in an email to me, "Everyone has at least one story...the story of their life." In this book, he meets the challenge head-on of extracting the important threads from individual events in his life and weaving them into individual stories about himself and other people he has known. Within each story, the reader will find wisdom and life lessons as rich as solid gold.
This book opens with First Flight, set in John’s teenage years within the struggling town of Chicago Heights. He describes the memorable day in which author and actress Cornelia Otis Skinner came to town, and recited poetry and short excerpts from dramatic pieces at his high school. He describes in beautiful and haunting language how unusual an event this was for Chicago Heights. He also reports an event with a teacher following that recital that forever changed his life:
And then Mrs. Wilson tugged at us like so many little boaters, reminding us the magic hour was over. I was bewildered. Time had never slipped by so fast. I could see the auditorium was nearly empty. Amazing! For a moment I didn’t budge. Old Mrs. Wilson smiled sympathetically, and I saw she was looking directly at me. "It’s not a life for any of you," she said firmly, and she shook her tired old mop of gray curls. Not to be. It was not to be. She was right; it was late, it was time to grab our noses and jump in the warm puddle and swim back to our safe little coves.
I tried to dog-paddle along with the rest, I’m sure I did. After all, the route was wide, clear and well traveled, and we were all taking it together. It was, after all, the only pond in sight and the only way to be taken. And yet somehow, in spite of all that help and good direction, I wasn’t going to be able to make it back. I remember a turning--a sudden, irrational fury--and how I stared hard-eyed at poor, unknowing Mrs. Wilson, staring purposefully, like the Virginian had when he set aside his poker hand and said, "When you say that--smile", glaring until it was she who turned away. And looking back over all the years and all that has passed in between, I can recognize now that it was at this improbable moment that the impossible boat with its awkward rigging and all its outlandish airs, like a newborn bat or insect half-crazed with the first upward taste of flight, unfolded its gauzy wing-like sails and launched itself into the bright and shiny seas.
Tinsel Wilderness continues from there, taking the reader on a journey through John’s years in the Vietnam War--both in intelligence and as host of a radio show called "The Happy Jack Platter Shop", then on to cover his experiences as a cub copywriter following the Army, his years in advertising, eventually as an advertising executive, his many fascinating experiences working for Disney Studios and both the Hollywood and independent movie industries, his experience writing the approved biography of NFL Hall of Famer Deacon Jones, and his present determination to thrive as a published author. He writes fascinating stories about his experiences with movie stars and directors, always drawing life lessons from those events.
I strongly advise that you read each and every story in this volume. The complete title--TINSEL WILDERNESS: Lessons in Survival as a Professional Creative Person in Hollywood & Other Extreme Climates--meansexactly what it says. The world is full of extreme climates in which creative and decent people are too often practically endangered species. Tinsel Wilderness is a survival guide to the "Tinseltown" that is Hollywood and to all other tinsel and plastic climates in which we find ourselves struggling for authenticity.
After I read Tinsel Wilderness, I felt forever changed and deeply inspired. I wish you, dear reader, the same experience.
Author of Adult and Children’s Literature
Blood Moon Publishing is an imprint of Double Dragon Publishing