Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is excited to have as our guest actress, author, singer, sculptor and singer Suzie Plakson.
Suzie attended Northwestern University before beginning her acting career. She has played a wide range of roles in film and television, including: A nice Midwestern mom on How I Met Your Mother, a nasty ex-wife on Everybody Loves Raymond, a gay gynecologist on Mad About You, a curmudgeonly sportswriter on Love and War, a tall personal assistant in Wag the Dog, a smart alec flight attendant in Redeye, a disgruntled engineer in Disclosure, and of course, a Vulcan, a half-Klingon, an Andorian and a Q on various Star Trek television series.
Suzie has also performed as a voice over artist and in addition she has appeared in several theatrical productions performing as lead opposite Anthony Newley in the USA revival tour ofStop the World I Want to Get Off and Marquise Therese du Part in La Bete on Broadway.
Suzie has just published a new book The Return of King Lillian.
Good day Suzie and thanks for participating our interview
What was your training as an actress and do you specialize in any particular training technique?
Well, a thousand years ago I trained at Northwestern University, in a literature-based theatre program then called “Interpretation” -- which sounds very Isadora Duncan, but was actually quite a wonderful discipline in playing all sorts of characters at once and delving into great literature in a really unique way. After college, I did some improv comedy, did a national tour, threw myself up against a thousand brick walls, sat in traffic for thousands of auditions. That’s the real life training in being an actor, though it’s generally not advertised.
As a follow up, what motivates you to act?
Artistically speaking, what most motivates me is the full interpretation of whatever art most wants expressing. For example, some years back I wrote and performed a solo theatre piece in which I played Eve. And of course, with The Return of King Lillian, as the storyteller, in order to tell the tale I got to play everybody -- which was insanely fun and frightening and deliciously satisfying.
How do you go about working on your various roles and how much research do you undertake for a role?
Not to be disrespectful of them or the shows I’ve been on, but most of my roles on television require very little research, as they are generally brief enough that what I need to do is create a vivid shape in the air in a very short time. If I need to use an accent or create a character from a certain culture, I’ll generally watch some terrific movies and get into a sort of osmosis space and absorb. Also, the situation, the clothes, the style of the show I’m acting in press certain buttons in me, and that, too, facilitates the performance.
But creating the roles of all the people in King Lillian, well, they come out of out of the place from whence the story came, the world in which Lillian lives. I was generally called to be silent and to hear them and then let speak.
What would make you accept or turn down a role?
the years, I’ve turned down things that I found abhorrently vulgar
What has been your favorite role and why?
Lillian. Hands down. I just love her. I can’t help it.
How did you decide you were ready to write The Return of King Lillian and could you tell our readers a little about the book?
that’s a huge question, the part about the readiness, so, please
forgive me, but I’m afraid it calls for a huge answer:
First, I would describe The Return of King Lillian as a picaresque journey tale, a fantasy, an allegory, a sort of spoken word story-telling that’s also got its own personality in print, I think.
The story, in a thumbnail: Lillian, the firstborn child of an Emperor-King is cast out of her kingdom by malevolent forces. Then, mysteriously waylaid by Destiny, the spirited girl sets off on an exuberant journey to find her way home and claim her birthright.
For about 25 years now, I’ve had very sporadic dreams about the world of King Lillian. They were literally flashes, but so beautiful, so enchanting, I couldn’t forget them. The first dream was of Lillian in scarlet cape and Musketeer hat riding horseback uphill on a mountain trail -- it was enthralling.
Every few years, I’d return to the idea, immerse myself in it, try to write it as this, try to write it as that, play with characters, dialogue, wrestling with the form it most wanted to take -- knowing all the while that it would have its own sound, its own style that I would recognize once I hit on it.
But every go round, I’d fall woefully short and feel so failed and frustrated and inadequate, because it felt like the story had chosen a completely unqualified person for the job. But the idea really didn’t care whether I was qualified to fulfill its promise or not, it just wouldn’t go away. Every time I returned to it, though, after being gone a while, I’d realize that I now knew more than I did the last time, that in those interims the thing had taken root in my subconscious and had been growing while I was looking the other way.
Fast forward a few decades, and I felt it was time to once again turn to the story, and either bring the thing into the world already or be done with it forever. So I decided to read every single everything I’d ever written about this tale, every version, every note, every scene -- there was a lot to read, believe me.
And there I was, just so completely exhausted with boredom and disappointment, lethargically trudging through it all, and I couldn’t wait to be finished with it -- when I picked up a file of about 16 pages that was written in diary form. I’d aimlessly played at writing Lillian’s diary years before because of one of those flash-dreams I’d had. Well, I was so sleepy, I read those pages aloud simply to keep myself awake.
The second I started reading – “Ding!” -- I was instantly wide, wide awake. It felt alive and easy and fun. And that’s how the form, at last, got itself found. I started writing this version of the story on November 1, 2011, at the start of national novel writing month. And we pressed the launch button on the website November 1, 2012. Yahoo!
did you get your information and ideas for your book?
Well, the right-brained answer is The Great Unmanifest, I guess, with respect to the aforementioned dreams, and the world itself. And I suppose the left-brained answer is that The Return of King Lillian is a product of everything I’ve ever passionately loved and read and seen, all pureed in the blender of my brain.
I noticed you have worn many hats, actor, sculptor, singer and author. How have these various roles influenced your writing of your book?
Overwhelmingly so. I’m compelled to express certain works of art by whatever particular knacks I happen to have, writing being one of them. But I’ve always felt my writing to be naturally inclined to be read or to be sung -- acting and singing having been the primordial passions for me. And the sculpting has most certainly affected The Return of King Lillian, as well, as many of the pages just so desired to be designed and shaped. So that the reading experience has, I believe, a bit of a kinetic element as well.
Did you learn anything from writing The Return of King Lillian and what was it?
than I can ever possibly fit in a paragraph… But the most powerful
lesson that springs to mind, that just kept presenting itself over
and over and over was this: that I have to not only allow
all the “really stupid” ideas onto the page, but welcome them
with open arms, because -- always, not just sometimes, but always --
truly swell stuff was waiting just behind what was I almost always a
little shy to put down first. I used to be so afraid that
writing the “wrong” idea would block the path of the better idea,
but I have found that being willing to brave feeling foolish actually
pointed the way.
Whom do you believe will benefit from your book and why?
Oh, I couldn’t even begin to make that call. I have a thousand hopes, though, that -- multi-generationally -- it’ll uplift some hearts, and bring some joy.
Where can our readers find out more about you and The Return of King Lillian?
They can find out more and listen to and read excerpts and, if the spirit moves, they can also purchase the AudioBook and eBook right on OUR WEBSITE
What is next for Suzie Plakson and is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?
Let’s see, what’s next... A nice nap, I think. And then a long and winding car ride up the coast to air out my brain and soothe my soul. And there might be a song that wants to get born, finally. Also, in about a week, I’ll be returning to the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, in which I play a nice mom from Minnesota.
The only thing I’d like to add is that I so very much appreciate your interest, Norm, and that I’ve loved your questions and I thank you for them.
Thanks Suzie and good luck with all of your future endeavors