MEET GLENN BERGGOETZ
Glenn is an author of seven books, but is better known as an independent filmmaker. To date he has written and directed twelve feature films, and have had such actors as Kane Hodder (from the Friday the 13th films) and Joe Bob Briggs (of Monstervision and Joe Bob’s Drive-In fame) star in his films. His new book Waiting for Evening to Come actually started as a screenplay, but there was so much he had to leave out of it due to the length constraints of a film that he expanded the screenplay into a novel.
In addition to writing books and making films, Glenn is also a college professor, teaching mostly composition classes, but he also teaches American and British literature, cinema, and horror in film and literature.
Glenn has just signed on with an agent who will represent the screenplay version of Waiting for Evening to Come.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK.
Waiting for Evening to Come is about the unlikely friendship that develops between a young white boy and an elderly African American man in rural Indiana in the 1950s. The boy’s father is openly racist and forbids his son from associating with the elderly man, but the boy decides to disobey his father, which leads to conflict and some violence.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE FOR THIS BOOK?
The title comes from a line spoken by the main character. It seemed appropriate.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK? IS IT PART OF A SERIES?
The book is not part of a series. The inspiration came from witnessing racism and wanting to tell a tale that shows how unnecessary racism is. At this point in our country’s history where it seems that racism and hatred of others is becoming more acceptable, it felt like a good time to get this book out there.
HOW MUCH OF YOUR BOOK IS BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES OR THOSE OF SOMEONE YOU KNOW?
Really, little of it is based off my own experiences, but much of it is based off of tales that my mother told me about herself and her parents. My grandmother died when I was a child, and my grandfather when I was a teen, so Mom used to tell me stories about them. Much of what’s in Waiting for Evening to Come comes from these tales and from my many memories of Mom and the fair number of memories I have of Grandpa.
WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH WENT INTO WRITING YOUR BOOK?
It’s been a lifetime of research that went into the book. Having always been interested in history, and having obtained a bachelor’s degree in history, I’m quite familiar with U.S. history and the civil rights movement. I’ve also spent time in small-town Indiana, so I’m familiar with that aspect of Waiting for Evening to Come.
WHAT CRITERIA DID YOU USE WHEN SELECTING THE COVER FOR YOUR BOOK?
I wanted a photo that captured the wide-open spaces of the rural Midwest, and also a photo that depicted sunset. I found a photo for the cover that nailed both of those aspects perfectly!
WAS THERE A MESSAGE IN YOUR BOOK THAT YOU WERE TRYING TO CONVEY?
Certainly Waiting for Evening to Come is trying to show that our decisions on whether we like somebody or not need to be based on character, not appearances, and that racism and hatred don’t do anyone any good.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR BOOK?
Not at all. In fact, the edit that editor KC Sprayberry did on the book ironed out all the wrinkles of the draft that Solstice Publishing accepted for publication. The main thing KC did was edit out about 4,000 words, which really tightened up the writing. I thought the draft that Solstice accepted was as close to perfect as the book could be, but KC really opened my eyes.
IF YOUR BOOK WOULD BE MADE INTO A FILM, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY THE LEADS?
This is an interesting question in that Waiting for Evening to Come actually started as a screenplay. I’ve written and directed twelve feature films (all of them produced on small budgets), and I’ve written nearly twenty other screenplays for films that would cost more money to put into production than I typically have at my disposal. Upon completing the screenplay version of Waiting for Evening to Come I began to contact the agents for a number of older African American actors to see if they might be interested in being in the film if I could get money in place to shoot the film. I ended up speaking on the phone with one of Samuel L. Jackson’s agents who said they would love to have Jackson play the lead role of “Benjamin” if I got money in place to make the film. I also received a letter of attachment from actor Albert Hall (Apocalypse Now, National Treasure, Ally McBeal) who wanted to play the role of “Benjamin.”
In the last week I landed an agent who will represent the screenplay version of Waiting for Evening to Come, so I’ve taken a little step forward in getting the screenplay made into a film. I’d certainly love to see Jackson play the lead role, but certainly other actors like Danny Glover or Forest Whitaker or even someone a bit on the young side for the role like Tyler Perry would all be awesome to see in the film.
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU BEGIN WRITING?
I began writing in the summer of 1988. As someone who always did a lot of reading, and as someone who had a lot of thoughts in my head, it just seemed like a natural thing to do.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST CONSIDER YOURSELF A WRITER?
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen myself as a writer. I see myself as someone who’s always writing something or other, but it seems as if the title of “writer” is reserved for people who are more talented than I am.
DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING STYLE.
It’s pretty straight forward for the most part. While I had a chapbook published titled Guernica Still Burning that’s a single extended stream-of-conscious prose poem that’s a fairly difficult read (but that I really like), when it comes to my two novels, they’re pretty direct. My screenplays are pretty direct as well, whether I’m writing a dramatic script, a comedy, or a thriller.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST LESSON YOU HAD TO LEARN AS A WRITER?
That every draft of every piece of work can always be made better.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS A WRITER?
Coming up with ideas that seem to be at least somewhat fresh and intriguing.
NOT INCLUDING FAMILY, WHO SUPPORTED YOUR EFFORTS TO BECOME A PUBLISHED AUTHOR?
I did have a girlfriend back in the 1990s who offered to have me move in with her, and she said I wouldn’t have to work, that she would work and pay all the bills while I stayed at home and wrote all day. I didn’t take her up on the offer, but I appreciated her support!
WHO WAS YOUR FIRST PUBLISHER AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THEM?
The first book I had published came from Coaches Choice and was a golf instructional book (I used to be a golf teaching professional), and what I learned was that I was only going to be getting a tiny percentage of all book sales.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR NEW WRITERS?
As someone who teaches literature at the college level, I’m well aware that historically very few authors of fiction and poetry have been able to make a living as a writer. So write because you have to, because you have thoughts in your head that you just have to put down on paper.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS?
Some of my favorites include Leo Tolstoy, Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Somerset Maugham. and Walt Whitman.
WHAT ARE YOU READING NOW?
Since I’m prepping for an American literature class I’m teaching this fall, I’m reading a lot of different authors, including John Cheever, Gary Snyder, Toni Morrison, Washington Irving, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ambrose Bierce, W.E.B. Du Bois, Sylvia Plath, and many more.
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Finding out that people do nice things for other people, even if that nice thing happens in film or literature, let alone in real life. Sometimes I find it easy to get jaded when I see some of the things that humans do to each other, so when I see or hear something where one person is kind to another, it can sometimes bring a tear to my eye.
IF YOU COULD MEET ANYONE WHO EVER LIVED, PAST OR PRESENT, WHO WOULD THAT BE?
Sigmund Freud would be an absolute blast to talk with. I’m guessing I could learn a few interesting things from him.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOWS AND MOVIES?
I’m an absolute sucker for the first three seasons of Arrested Development. I’ve also gotten into Stranger Things as my nieces and I like to watch the show together, and if we can’t watch episodes together we love to talk and text about them. I’m also a fanatic for American Dad! I’ve actually written an episode for that show, but I have no idea how to get the manuscript into the hands of the show’s producers – hopefully my new agent can do that. I also enjoy shows like The Haunting of Hill House and Maine Cabin Masters.
When it comes to movies, I absolutely love The Naked Gun and Planes, Trains & Automobiles. I also can’t go wrong with To Die is Hard and Animal House. I thoroughly enjoy many horror films, especially those based on Stephen King books. The Shining still freaks me out even though I’ve watched it dozens of times. I also enjoy some older horror films like Rosemary’s Baby. Recently I watched the ‘60s film The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster, a film based off a John Cheever short story, and that film was most excellent.
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC TOUCHES YOUR SOUL?
I’m not a big music guy, though I’m in a part-time band called Norwegian Soft Kitten where I play rhythm guitar and do most of our singing (readers can learn more about NSK on our Facebook fan page at https://www.facebook.com/NSKitten/). I do really like bands like Talking Heads and Tears for Fears, and when I do listen to music I enjoy ‘80s music quite a bit, as well as The Brian Berggoetz Band and Brian Wilson, but I don’t listen to music too often. Occasionally I’m in a mood where “Help Me” by Joni Mitchell sounds really good.
WHAT DO YOU WANT WRITTEN ON YOUR HEADSTONE?
I’ve already made arrangements to have my body donated to science upon my death, but if I did have a headstone, here’s all it would need to say – “Ugh.”
Find Out More About Glenn Here:
In rural Indiana in the 1950s, an elderly African American man befriends a young white boy whose father is openly racist and who is determined to put the friendship to an end, even if that means exhibiting violence toward his son and the elderly man.