Suz Curtis is a Tennessee native now in her first year at UCLA’s MFA program in Screenwriting. Her previous lives include various stints as, in no particular order: A theatre actor, country music DJ, Playwright, magazine writer, late night hotel auditor, non-profit staff, theatre director, theatre company Artistic Director, wife and mother to two “hairy children.” Peers often comment on how great she is at being short.
IA: What books currently on your bookshelf get your highest rating?
SC: A practical book on writing scripts — The Dramatic Writer’s Companion by Will Dunne. Nerd heaven.
IA: What makes you laugh the most?
SC: Hm. I laugh a lot. Life is really funny to me. Surprises make me laugh. I’m also a sucker for one liners and sarcasm. I can find something laughable about most anything. This is not always a strength.
IA: What place have you been that has inspired you the most?
SC: I felt really inspired in Europe, in countries much older than America, where the continuum of the human experience is more “in your face.” It’s impossible to turn around in Europe without being reminded of the past, which puts me in a contemplative mood. I guess I feel inspired when I’m contemplating? Weird.
IA: Who are your heroes?
SC: People who persist. I’m a “hero-ho.” I have a lot of heroes. These days, it’s writers and artists– Chayefsky, Kubrick, Lumet, those 70s chestnuts.
IA: What’s your favorite technique for battling creative block?
SC: Routine. There’s a quote attributed to Picasso, but others have expressed similar sentiments: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” To finish a project, I have to work even when I don’t feel like it. It’s part of having a practice rather than a hobby.
IA: Who is the most famous person you have seen out in public?
SC: I saw Jay Leno in traffic once.
IA: How would you heckle someone in Shakespearean language?
SC: For a solid Shakespearean sounding insult, use lots of “thees” and “thous.” Toss out the words “coxcomb” and “cuckold.” Oh, and try to keep it to ten iambic syllables.
IA: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
SC: Patience solves most problems.
IA: Have you always kept a diary?
SC: Yes, since about the age of 9. I’ve always been a compulsive writer. But now we all have a shared diary, and it’s called Facebook.
IA: Do you prefer working alone or in collaboration?
SC: Alone, but I’m learning how to fake a good attitude about collaborating.
IA: What is your best advice to a beginning writer?
SC: Write. I used to hate it when people told me that, but it’s true. Talking about writing isn’t writing. Only writing is writing, and it’s the best way to learn it. If you put words on paper, you’ll have a mechanism for feedback. It’s easy to think about writing. It’s tougher to put the time into it and risk failure.
IA: Which is funnier: Jello® or pudding?
SC: I’m told words with the “p” sound are funny. I’ll have to go with pudding. Pickle pudding would be hilarious. To a toddler. Yell it repeatedly to a toddler. You’ll bring the house down.
IA: What is the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done?
SC: I’m danger-avoidant. My encounters with danger are always involuntary. I was held up at gun point once. That was dangerous. If I had it to do over? I wouldn’t.
IA: What song would sound much better with a little banjo added to it?
SC: What song WOULDN’T sound better with a little banjo added to it? You, sir, are a man of vision for asking the question. I’d start with “Head Over Heels” by the Go-Gos.
IA: If you were inventing a name for a soap opera character what would it be?
SC: Something that sounds like a man with a mustache. I’m thinking night-time soap. Rex? Maybe a city name. Something that takes itself really seriously. Rex London. That’s a character with a mustache and an agenda.
IA: Do you believe creativity is a spiritual function?
SC: I believe creativity is a way for humans to understand existence. For some, it feels spiritual. For others, it feels analytical. For me, it is both. But I’ve had the impulse all my life. No one ever told me to create. I’ve always felt obsessed with it.
IA: Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
SC: Alive. Healthy. Working in my field with no day job. Making money as a writer. I’m keeping it real and doing the one day at a time thing. Keeping that mindset helps maintain the level of patience required to endure.
IA: What is the best flavor of lip gloss?
SC: Vanilla. Haters can suck it. I’ll also go for a good berry option. But I prefer the more subtle flavors. A strong lip gloss can haunt the nostrils worse than Vick’s Vap-O-Rub®.
IA: Who is your favorite character in literature?
SC: I have many. Charles Marlow from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness comest to mind. He goes through a great ordeal but spends a lot of time reflecting. It’s technically not a poem but reads like one to me.
IA: What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
SC: Crow. Metaphorically speaking, of course. I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong about something.
IA: If you were casting a live version of “Gumby and Pokey” what actors would you put in the lead?
SC: It would star Schwarzenegger and DeVito. The title: Twins II.