Stephen Carpenter created the NBC series Grimm, and has written screenplays for Ocean’s Eleven, Blue Streak, and other films. A graduate of UCLA Film School, Carpenter has also written and directed several thrillers, including Soul Survivors, starring Casey Affleck and Eliza Dushku. His first novel, Killer, was a #1 Amazon Bestseller, and dubbed a “blockbuster” by Entertainment Weekly. His next book, The Grimm Curse Trilogy, will be available March 8, 2013 on Amazon. My thanks to Stephen for spending some quality time with me.
1- Let’s go back a little. I understand you actually wrote a screenplay for Steve Martin’s novel, “The Pleasure of my Company.” What was it like to work with a legendary talent like him?
I didn’t really work with him. We only had one meeting, but it was fascinating. We had a long lunch in Beverly Hills, and it seemed he wanted to talk about anything but the book. He had kind of moved on, and he was really mostly interested in checking me out—like, would I screw it up? I brought my dog-eared copy of his novel and peppered him with questions, which were mostly met with a shrug. I got the feeling he kind of tossed off the book and didn’t look back. He was fairly self-deprecating, and he had a sense of humor about himself, which is unusual for a guy like that. I made him laugh once. Having grown up with Steve Martin as a comedy icon…that laugh was a high point for me.
2- You’ve successfully adapted so many projects for TV and movies, yet you continue to focus your energy on novels. Why?
I like working without interference. Screenwriting is half political. You have to serve so many masters—the producers, the studio, directors, actors. Not to mention there’s a fair chance you’ll be rewritten by another writer after you’ve labored over a script for years. I worked on one script that had 33 writers. It’s hard to hold onto authorship. With a novel you’re the boss, you have the final word. You’re alone with it, which can be hard, but you can concentrate on what you really want to say. You get the final cut. Also, just practically, you can write anything. You don’t have to worry about budget, casting, etc. It’s only your imagination that limits you.
3-What does the success of “Grimm,” do for someone like you? Does it open doors for certain projects which might not have been available to you before?
Somewhat. Hollywood is in chaos right now—more than usual. Having a hit show helps to establish credibility, but when a network is considering spending millions of dollars producing and marketing a new show, they get pretty cutthroat. Grimm helps to put the network at ease—they think I know something, when, in fact, I’m still just blindly trying to make something work, like everybody else. We’ll see. The jury’s still out on that question.
4- Who is an author and a former boxer. How much of Jack is autobio- Tell us about your Jack Rhodes charactergraphical?
Jack is an amalgam of myself, people I have known, and a little of Robert Parker’s Spenser character thrown in because I’m such a fan. I grew up like Jack—kind of scrappy—but the rest is a kind of cultivated projection of things that I have experienced. Killer deals with how authors rewrite their past, and I’ll let that stand for itself. Some things have to be forgotten if you want to go on living.
5- I believe all your novels are exclusively sold on Amazon. Tell us about that decision and the future books you’re working on.
There was interest in Killer from traditional publishers after it hit #1. I went down the road with one of them, but it just took forever. Maybe I could have published on paper, but I’m too impatient. These people dither and deliberate for months. I’d rather spend the time writing. As far as the future, I don’t know. My life is a lot less complicated without agents and publishers telling me what to do. The great thing about ebook publishing is that you can do whatever the hell you want—not to mention the 70 percent royalty. Just leave me alone and let me write. For now that’s how I’m progressing. Meanwhile, look for The Grimm Curse Trilogy coming March 8, when Grimm is back on the air.