Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Rita Lakin. Rita's career started in television as a writer for shows such as Dr. Kildare, Peyton Place, Mod Squad and Dynasty.
Later, she created and produced her own shows: The Rookies, Flamingo Road and Nightingales and wrote many Movies of the Week and mini-series, some of which are still being aired.
With a life-long passion for writing, Lakin has authored a collection of celebrated novels including the Gladdy Gold Mystery Series, Four Coins of the Kaballah, A Summer Without Boys and short stories; The Woman Who Hated The Bronx. Rita has just published her memoir of her 25 years in Hollywood; The Only Woman in the Room.
She is a lifetime member of the Writer’s Guild of America, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and the Author’s Guild. Lakin’s many awards and nominations include the Writer Guild of America (WGA) and Emmy nominations, the Mystery Writer’s of America’s Edgar Allen Poe award, the LEFTY award for best comedy mystery and the Avery Hopwood Award from the University of Michigan.
Norm: Good day Rita and thanks for participating in our interview
How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
Rita: I can’t recall a time I wasn’t writing, even as a child. I love writing and even re-writing, that makes it easy to keep going.
Norm: Why do we like to read and watch fiction?
Rita: Entertainment, escape, wanting to get involved, boredom, a lifelong hobby, experiences to share with family and friends, to name a few.
Norm: Where did you get the ideas for your television shows as well as your novels?
Rita: In TV, the series show determined what I might write. Medical shows, cop shows, etc. In movies, there also was a determining factor, like wanting suspense, a medical theme, or heartfelt drama. In my Gladdy Gold novels, Getting Old is Murder, etc, they came out of my wanting to write a valentine for my mother as well as deal with aging in America. At the same time, I get to write comedy, something I’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t in TV. For my gothic thriller, Four Coins of the Kaballah, the idea came from a phrase I read in a reference book, which triggered the whole novel. A Summer Without Boys came from a real life experience.
Norm: How would you rate and compare television writing today as compared when you were an active television writer?
Rita:. A world of difference. How would you compare an old Model T Ford with any car of today? Cable opened up TV to anything and everything feature films could do. Barriers are gone. There’s sex, strong language, much more complex plotting and more sophisticated excellent writing. The TV of my time was bland (one prime example would be the “sex” scene I wrote for Peyton Place).
Norm: What's the biggest mistake you've made as a writer?
Rita: I was young and naïve when I worked in TV. Because I was a woman of that certain era, I didn’t learn to stand up for myself and my ideas for quite some years.
Norm: What was the difference for you in writing for television compared to writing novels?
Rita: It’s a big difference! TV was much easier for me. Novels expect much more detail, and descriptions. I was used to saying -- call transportation and send me a car, rather than spend a page describing one. Want characters? I had real people. Call casting. Get me Mia Farrow. I liked the challenge of the subtext and the skill of dramatizing with dialogue and describing action, then leaving it up to the actor and director to show what I was expressing. But on the other hand, what I love about writing novels is having the power to use words beautifully and meaningfully.
Norm: What are the most important characteristics of an author?
Rita: Honesty to the reader. Especially when writing mysteries. Readers hate being cheated by poor plotting and false clues. And in writing a memoir, being honest about how I lived my life.
Norm: Could you briefly tell us about your most recent book, The Only Woman in the Room?? What purpose do you believe your book serves and what matters to you about the story?
Rita: Once I realized how few women were writing in TV when I was there, I felt I had something to say to the young women of today, and showing them how it once was. And how we were the first to tackle important life issues, feminist issues, race issues, gender, without realizing we were pioneers. It was also all about an era that is long gone. And about people who should be remembered who did so much.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your writing?
Rita: All the usual places, my WEBSITE, Wikipedia, IMDB and from all the nice people who put me in Facebook, etc.
Norm: After your phenomenal success as a writer, what, if anything, remains "undone" for you? What is the one thing you haven't done, that you are still "itching" to accomplish?"
Rita: Thanks, but I don’t see myself as having phenomenal success, but I sure did try to do a good job. I no longer “itch,” but for my fans who keep asking, I should write more Gladdy books. I don’t want my latest title to be my last (Getting Old Can Kill you).
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavours.