Friday, April 29, 2016

Poisoning People for Fun and Profit—Part 2: Wolfsbane

Wolfsbane, aka Monkshood or Devil's Helmet (aconitum) is one of the more magical and romantic-sounding poisons. It carries connotations of witch's brews and wizardry. It often appears in fantasy novels and is rumored to turn people into werewolves. 

But it's very real. And very nasty. People can be poisoned by simply touching the leaves of the plant, since it can be absorbed through the skin, and strong enough tincture can cause almost instantaneous death. 

Wolfsbane is also known as Monkshood
The victims appear to die of suffocation, because it causes the heart and lungs to stop functioning. If the dosage hasn't been very high, a victim can be saved if they get treatment within the hour. Charcoal can decontaminate the intestinal tract, and Lidocaine or similar drugs will combat the heart arrhythmia. 

But without treatment, death usually happens within two to six hours. 

The initial signs are nausea and vomiting, followed by tingling and numbness in the face and burning in the abdomen.
Aconitum napellum

The numbness then spreads to the arms and legs, and the victim will feel dizzy and confused.

Death is caused by paralysis of the heart and lungs. The only post-mortem signs are the same as asphyxiation. 

The flowering plant is a lovely purple color and grows in moist, shady soil. Over 250 species of it are found all over the world. It belongs to the genus Ranunculaceae and is a cousin of the innocent buttercup.

Wolfsbane is related to the buttercup

Aconite has been used since ancient times, and early Greeks used it on their arrows to kill their enemies more quickly. (The word aconitum probably comes from "akon" the Greek word for "arrow".) In Greek mythology, Medea attempted to kill Theseus using aconite.

The emperor Claudius is said to have been poisoned by his wife, Agrippina, using aconite in a plate of mushrooms, and the Romans subsequently made it illegal to grow the plant.

Aconitum variega

In small doses it also has medicinal properties, and is used in Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine.

The victim in my fifth Camilla book So Much for Buckingham is poisoned with wolfsbane, and because Plantagenet discovers the body—and he had been seen admiring wolfsbane flowers in the nearby garden earlier—he is arrested for the murder. 

Does it protect you from vampires? 
A docent warns him not to touch it, and hints that it might turn him into a werewolf. But much more mundane horrors are in store.

Wolfsbane is very common—and amazingly versatile—in werewolf mythology. Some stories say the plant can turn people into werewolves and others say it can prevent the transformation. In the Vampire Diaries, wolfsbane protects vampires from werewolves, and in the classic 1931 film Dracula, it's used to protect people from vampires.

Personally, I think I'd rather take my chances with the vampires.

SO MUCH FOR BUCKINGHAM: Camilla Mystery #5

This comic novel—which takes its title from the most famous Shakespearean quote that Shakespeare never wrote—explores how easy it is to perpetrate a character assassination whether by a great playwright or a gang of online trolls.

It's a laugh-out-loud mashup of romantic comedy, crime fiction, and satire: Dorothy Parker meets Dorothy L. Sayers. Perennially down-and-out socialite Camilla Randall--a.k.a. "The Manners Doctor"--is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but she always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way. Usually with more than a little help from her gay best friend, Plantagenet Smith. n this hilarious episode she makes the mistake of responding to an online review of one of her etiquette guides and sets off a chain of events that leads to arson, attempted rape and murder. 

Sample reviews:
"Delicious wit, wonderful eccentric characters, and a beguiling plot. Camilla Randall is a delight!"...Melodie Campbell, "Canada's Queen of Comedy."

"Both a comedic romance and a crime suspense thriller, it presents the 'Perils of Pauline' adventures of a modern author, Camilla, whose mad-cap follies are hugely entertaining. But the novel has a serious undertone of social comment. Even the craziest of its zanies have their counterparts in the real world and the author faithfully depicts their grim, and often deadly, sub-cultures behind a veneer of knockabout wit. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys romance, and crime suspense, with a lethally satiric edge." Dr. John Yeoman.

"Anne Allen's ability to weave throughout her stories a current social commentary easily and throughout the story amazes me. She does this without jeopardizing her plot or her characters' development." blogger Sherrey Meyer

So Much for Buckingham is available in ebook at all the Amazons,

And in paperback you can find it at

Friday, April 22, 2016

Poisoning People for Fun and Profit—Part 1: Digitalis

Classic mysteries often use poison as a murder weapon. Agatha Christie was a master poisoner, and she knew her stuff, since she had worked as a pharmacist. 

Christie used poison more than any other mystery author and, there's even a book on the Poisons of Agatha Christie, by research chemist Kathryn Harkup.

I think there are a number of reasons for the popularity of poisons in classic British cozies.

1) The genre was born in the UK where guns are not as easy for murderers to get their hands on as they are in the firearm-obsessed US.

2) Brits are more likely to have gardens than guns,
especially in the picturesque little villages where homicidal horticulturists and vengeful vicars can pile up the body count. 

3) Poison deaths can happen offstage, since the drama is about getting the poison into the victim, not actually witnessing the death. Cozy mystery fans are always grateful for this. We don't like a lot of blood.

Digitalis purpurea drawing by Franz Köhlern
4) Poisons are often not suspected or detected, so poisoners can be serial killers without anybody suspecting them for years. 

5) They allow frail little old ladies to kill people politely with a nice cup of tea.

6) Poisons are more varied
and intriguing than guns. Some of them are prettier, too.

I do use guns for some of the murders in the first Camilla mystery, Ghostwriters in the Sky. But that's because it's all about the mythology of the American cowboy. Cowboys gotta have their guns.
But in Sherwood, Ltd, in which Camilla goes to England, there are several poisonings (sorry, I couldn't fit in an arrow-shooting. It would have gone better with the Robin-Hoody theme, I realize.)

In Sherwood, the poison used was digitalis, which comes from from the common garden flower, foxglove (digitalis purpurea.) All parts of the plants are poisonous. People have actually died just from drinking the water from a vase that had foxgloves in it.

It has also been used in medicine since the 18th century, because in the right dosage, digitalis is used to treat congestive heart failure and atrial arrhythmia. It can increase blood flow and reduce swelling in hands and ankles.

In England, foxgloves have also been called "fairy thimbles" and some think the name comes from "folks glove," with "folk" meaning the fairy-folk. 

Maybe they were never imagined to be handwear for foxes at all. Makes sense to me. I'd much rather see them as thimbles for fairy seamstresses. 

I used the term when I named "Fairy Thimble Cottage" the fairy-tale English cottage that lures Rosalee Beebee from her home in Buttonwillow CA.

The broad, hairy leaves of the foxglove plant can be confused with comfrey, a common herb which is used by herbalists to treat everything from bronchial problems, broken bones, sprains, arthritis, ulcers, burns, acne and menstrual cramps.

I used this confusion to make things interesting at Fairy Thimble Cottage. 
Comfrey can be confused with Foxglove

People don't usually drop dead immediately from digitalis poisoning. First they have a bunch of symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hallucinations, and severe headache (hey sound like the side effects of all those drugs they advertise on TV don't they?)

Digitalis poisoning also causes visual impairment and victims tend to see "haloes" around things and the world takes on a yellow tinge. Depending on how much has been ingested, the victim can also have a slow, irregular pulse, tremors, convulsions and heart disturbances (either speeding up or slowing down the heartbeat.)

Death from digitalis poisoning can be confused with a heart attack, which makes it awfully handy for murderers.

Next week I'll talk about another nifty poisonous plant for the use of homicidal characters: Aconinte, aka Monkshood or Wolfsbane.

What about you, readers? Do you find poisonings more interesting than shootings? What poisonous plants do you find the scariest? Can you think of a classic mystery that uses digitalis as a means to murder? 

SHERWOOD, LTD: Camilla Mystery #2

Suddenly-homeless American manners expert Camilla Randall becomes a 21st century Maid Marian—living rough near the real Sherwood Forest with a band of outlaw English erotica publishers—led by a charming, self-styled Robin Hood who unfortunately may intend to kill her. 

When Camilla is invited to publish a book of her columns with UK publisher Peter Sherwood, she lands in a gritty criminal world—far from the Merrie Olde England she envisions. 

The staff are ex-cons and the erotica is kinky. Hungry and penniless, she camps in a Wendy House built from pallets of porn while battling an epic flood, a mendacious American Renfaire wench, and the mysterious killer who may be Peter himself.

Sherwood, Ltd. is only $2.99 in ebook from all the AmazonsiTunesGooglePlay ScribdInkteraKobo, Nook, and Smashwords
And it's  $11.99 in paper from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Sample Reviews:

"A wily tale of murder, deceit, and intrigue that can stand with the best of them. Her characters are all too real and her dialogue took me from laughter to chills" David Keith on Smashwords

"Smartly written and nearly impossible to put down, I found myself counting the hours until I could leave work and get back to reading! Well done!" T.L. Ingham on Smashwords

"An intriguing and fast paced novel that demands you read on to the next page and beyond. The characters are well constructed and believable and I enjoyed the difference between the USA and UK people. The plight of our heroine is complex and well -managed and in the beginning I was striving for her to find some genuine help and support. The flip over to the UK added more spice! Highly recommended."—David L. Atkinson, author of The 51st State

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Hollywood Scandal that Sparked "The Gatsby Game"

Usually writers search for a story. We often find inspiration in news stories. Or sometimes a story springs entirely from our own imaginations.

But sometimes the story finds us.

And won't let us go until we write it.

That's what happened with my comic suspense novel, The Gatsby Game, which is based on a real unsolved Hollywood mystery—one that personally touched my life.

When I was in college, I dated a man named David Whiting—an odd duck who seemed to live in his own private F. Scott Fitzgerald-fantasy world.

A couple of years later, he was found dead in actress Sarah Miles' motel room during the filming of the Burt Reynolds movie, The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing.

It was a huge scandal—which has been called one of the 10 Most Notorious Sex Scandals in Hollywood History. Some people in the media even accused Reynolds of murder. Most people suspected suicide or an overdose. But the forensic evidence wasn't conclusive. The coroner finally ruled it an accident.

I was out of the U.S. when it happened, but when I got back, I researched everything I could find on his death. I could tell I knew things about David most people didn't—he once said I was the only person who really knew him—and I've always had a strong theory about what happened that night, but his death remains unsolved.

For decades, I mulled over the story, unsure of how to write about it. But when I was in England promoting my first novel, Food of Love, I came across Sara Miles' autobiography in a used bookstore, read the chapters about David, and the seeds of a novel began to grow.

David had been a true "ladies' man"—with few male friends—who collected A-list girlfriends the way Carrie Bradshaw collected Manolos. He wasn't wildly handsome, and his phoniness was over the top, but somehow he always ended up with some supermodel or movie star on his arm. He showed me photos of himself with Jane Fonda and Carroll Baker.

He made it clear from the beginning that I wasn't A-list enough to be serious girlfriend material. That was OK with me. We didn't have the term "friends with benefits" in those days, but that would have described our relationship.

I dated him mostly because I found him hilarious. Every date was a piece of performance art.

Because I wasn't emotionally into him, I thought his ways of sneaking into my room and rearranging things—or leaving odd tokens—was funny. And when he'd deny something I knew very well to be true, I'd laugh. I hadn't yet seen the classic film Gaslight or been aware of how manipulative and terrifying "Gaslighting" can be to a vulnerable person.

It wasn't until I read Sarah Miles' book that I realized how David hooked his prey. He used the weapon so many abusers do—self-pity. (I've recently heard this kind of person called a "crybully.")

He made women feel sorry for him and want to protect him. At the same he would make himself indispensable, taking care of mundane things like booking hotels and getting the best table at posh restaurants. He was like a little boy trying to earn approval from a narcissistic mother. (Which is exactly what he was. His mother's actions seemed cruel and self-absorbed.)

My characters are fictional, and I'm not sure what Ms. Miles would make of the character of Delia Kent, the movie star who befriends—and then is almost destroyed by—the Fitzgerald-obsessed con man I call Alistair Milborne.

The heroine is entirely fictional, but was inspired by a line I read in an Esquire article about David's death: Ron Rosenbaum's piece called A Corpse as Big as the Ritz. He mentioned that the local sheriff always suspected Miss Miles' nanny—who had been dating David at the time—had been responsible for his death.

The nanny wasn't given a name, but I made her a smart-mouthed Ivy Leaguer who was only semi-attached to David the way I had been. I gave her a messy family background of privilege, because Alistair, like David, is devoted to social climbing.

Then I paid homage to the narrator of The Great Gatsby—Nick Carraway—and called my heroine Nicky Conway. I don't know if any readers will get that, but it was fun for me. The story is not dissimilar to Jay Gatsby's: Alistair is a social climber who worships a class that will never accept him.

The real villain of the piece is the character I call "the Gorgon": Alistair's neglectful, narcissistic mother. I made her an aging gold-digger. I have no idea if David's real mother was anything like the Gorgon. I only visited her house once—a mansion in Arlington VA. David called it "Mother's house"—not his—and said she was away "on the Riviera" and wouldn't let me touch anything.

All the furniture was draped in dust covers and the place felt creepy. Especially since David himself was living in a tiny room off the kitchen. A maid's room. I thought then that perhaps his mother was actually a servant in the house. But I realized years later there was a strong possibility he and his mother didn't live there at all and he had simply broken in and was squatting to pretend to have posh background.

Nobody will ever know what really killed David, or why nobody claimed his body. My story is a fictional exploration of what might have happened to this tragi-comic, self-deluded con man who touched my own life such a long time ago.

This piece first appeared on Donna Hole's blog in 2012. Her old blog has mysteriously been taken over by an Indonesian herbal company (who actually use her name for their rather elegant logo—very strange) But she has a new blog under the name Dolorah. Donna/Dolorah...Thanks for letting me guest post for you!

The Gatsby Game, my fictionalized version of David Whiting's story is only 99c at all the Amazons for one more week. 

A paper version is available for $10.99 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The ebook is available for $2.99 at Barnes and Noble for NOOKInktera and Kobo. It's also available at Scribd

When Fitzgerald-quoting con man Alistair Milborne is found dead a movie star's motel room—igniting a worldwide scandal—the small-town police can't decide if it's an accident, suicide, or foul play.

As evidence of murder emerges, Nicky Conway, the smart-mouth nanny, becomes the prime suspect. She's the only one who knows what happened. But she also knows nobody will ever believe her.

The story is based on the real mystery surrounding the death of David Whiting, actress Sarah Miles' business manager, during the filming of the 1973 Burt Reynolds movie The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Short Fiction is Hot: 10 Reasons for the Short Story Renaissance

Friday, April 1, 2016

Why It's Never Too Late To Follow Your Dreams: Writers, Ignore Negative Advice!

An Interview with Award-Winning Screenwriter Walter Reuben, author-director of The David Whiting Story

"Be fearless… The world is filled with people who will be more than willing to give you self-defeating, negative advice. If you have a dream, the single most important question you must ask yourself is—how can you fulfill that dream? If your resources are very limited, that is not an excuse."
...Walter Reuben, writer-director of the award-winning film, The David Whiting Story

Walter Reuben winning the L.A. Film Critics Award
I'm pretty sure most writers (me included) have a lurking fantasy of seeing our work on the silver screen one day.

However, most of us figure screenwriting is even harder to break into than book publishing because of the financial investment involved. Besides, everybody and their grandmother is writing a screenplay. So the chances of fulfilling that dream are slim to none...right?

Not if you know the story of Walter Reuben, winner of the prestigious L.A. Film Critic Association's Douglas Edwards award for his indie film The David Whiting Story.

When he received his award on January 10th, 2015, Walter shared a stage with people like Angelina Jolie, Wes Anderson, and Patricia Arquette. The Douglas Edwards award has previously gone to the likes of Jean-Luc Godard and Gus Van Sant.

Walter is right about the negative advice. Go to any writing blog and you'll be presented with tons of scary rules.
  • Follow the conventions of your genre. Don't color outside the lines.
  • Limit the number of characters and subplots. Don't make anything too complicated.
  • Tell the story in linear time. Don't confuse your reader with lots of jumping around in time and place.  
  • Kill your darlings. Whatever you think is clever and innovative, most people will hate. 
  • Forget the literary stuff. Anybody who drops references to Henry James is NOT going to have a career as a writer. Get yourself a job teaching literature in a nice stuffy prep school.
I admit I've given some of that advice myself. I know from experience that it's tough to get anything
Haverford College, where Walter Reuben met David Whiting 
literary, quirky, or rule-breaking in front of the public, and it's even harder to get recognition for it. I've learned the hard way that unless you're a regular contributor to The New Yorker, you'll have a lot better chance of making a living if you stick to writing thrillers, romances and mysteries and forget about the cerebral stuff.

So let me introduce you to the man who proves us all wrong.

Walter Reuben has had his shorter screenplays produced in the past, but last year marked the debut of his first feature film: The David Whiting Story, 

Oh, and did I mention that Walter is sixty-nine years old?

Yes, you read that right. Walter is nearly seventy. Until last year, he had never made a feature film, although filmmaking has always been one of his passions.

His story is one of persistence, grit, and the triumph of quirky artistic vision. It's a story to inspire writers everywhere, no matter what their age.

Pembroke Hall at Bryn Mawr, where Anne met David Whiting
I don't actually know Walter, except online, although we think we probably met in person a very long time ago. We went to college together. That is, he was an upperclassman at Haverford when I was a freshman at Bryn Mawr. They're sibling schools. (And yes, I'm outing myself as a geezerette.)

Like me, Walter once befriended a strange, compelling, tragicomic young man named David Whiting, who later died under mysterious circumstances on the set of the Burt Reynolds film The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, in 1973.

Walter and I met again online this year because we both recently created works of art that addressed David Whiting and his mysterious story.

A prep school classmate of David's who had read my book about David, The Gatsby Game, phoned me to ask what I knew about the real David. He dropped a remark about an upcoming film called The David Whiting Story written by somebody named Walter Reuben.
Anne at Bryn Mawr during her Goth period

That was the first I'd heard of the film, so I Googled Walter and friended him on Facebook (see, social media is good for something!) We started an email exchange. He sent me a link so I could watch the film online.

A few months later, I saw the news that he'd won the Los Angeles Film Critics Award. He was over the moon. He says he's still reeling from the "surreal" experience, but I talked him into doing an interview for this blog. (Although he's hard at work on his next feature film.)

The David Whiting Story continues to get kudos. It was recently listed as one of "The Best Films Not Yet Showing at a Theater Near You"

NOTE:  This interview first ran on my writing blog in January of 2015.



Thanks, for visiting, Walter!

I know that I've wanted to write about David Whiting pretty much ever since I heard about his death. Maybe even before. He was such a quirky, over-the-top character.

The news accounts of David's death never made sense to me. I felt I knew a lot more about him than anybody who was writing about him.

What about you? Have you had this story at the back of your mind for a long time? 


Not at all. After I knew David in college, I lost touch with him. Although the news of his death was a scandal, which got reported in the media, I did not read about it at the time, and was not even aware of his death.

(Walter probably avoided supermarket tabloids, which was where much the story played out. It has been called one of "The 10 Most Notorious Sex Scandals in Hollywood History."...Anne )

However, in 2007, I went on vacation, and one of the books which I chose to take with me was a collection of essays by Ron Rosenbaum. I read a number of essays, one of which was about David and the curious circumstances of his demise in Sarah Miles' hotel room, during a film shoot. 

(Ron Rosenbaum's book is called The Secret Parts of Fortune and the David Whiting essay is titled "A Corpse as Big as the Ritz: in Which we Encounter Sarah Miles, Burt Reynolds and the Ghost of the Great Gatsby"...Anne.) 

When I read the essay, it did not even occur to me that the fellow being described was the same David Whiting with whom I had gone to college. Apparently, David at some point claimed to be (or to have been) an undergraduate at Harvard, not Haverford College (which he actually attended with me, however briefly on his part).

 David, clearly, was very "flexible" with the facts of his life, and he may have thought that Harvard would be a more impressive alma mater.

(He told me he was a Princeton student on an exchange program. He was obviously obsessed with the Ivy League...Anne.) 

But that is one reason why I did not immediately realize that the subject of this essay was my old college acquaintance. But, somehow, the essay nagged at me, and, a few years later, I revisited it, and found an ancient 1966 diary of mine. It contained a couple of brief references to David Whitingwhich confirmed my suspicion that the college David of 1966 was the fellow written about in the essay.


When did you decide to make David Whiting's story into a film? And how long did it take from concept to wrap?


Three years ago, I was visiting Austin. I had spent almost twenty years of my life there and had made my earliest experimental short films there, in the 1980's. I had not been there in 20 years, and I was having dinner with one of my oldest friends, a person who shares my passion for film.

Somehow, I got to bringing up the story of David Whiting, his mysterious death, and Sarah Miles. My friend was very familiar with the entire business.

Somehow, I blurted out that I was going to make a movie about Sarah Miles and Ayn Rand. I, honestly, have no idea how this idea arose. It was spontaneous, and came from something very intuitive inside me. He smiled and said some encouraging words, because, earlier in the dinner, he had remembered fondly my early short movies.

That dinner was in April, 2012. The film wrapped in July, 2013.


I love stories of people who get ideas when speaking them out loud to somebody else like that. It has happened to me and it always feels sort of magical.   I go..."did I really say that? I guess I'll have to do it, then." But I'm not always brave enough to follow through.

So what gave you the courage—at an age when most people are happily settling into retirement—to make a feature film?


Why not? There are various examples, especially in late 20th Century British literature, of writers who only started to write, or at least to publish, at what some consider to be an advanced age.

As for "happily settling into retirement," for whom is that really true? If you utterly love what you do, why would you want to retire? Of course, if you hate what you do, then you cannot wait for an unhappy career to be over.

As for F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous dictum that "there are no second acts in American lives," well, I simply beg to disagree. I have started what is for me a third act, and I am loving it.

I read earlier today about a film director who made his first feature at the age of 20. I do not know this man's movies, but, truly, I saymore power to anyone of any age who wants to make movies, and who finds a way to fulfill his or her dream!


I love your positive attitude, Walter!

You met David Whiting when he was a freshman, and I didn't get to know him until he was an upperclassman. I met him as a wannabe-ladies' man who had recently worked as a still photographer on the sets of several high-profile films where he had hobnobbed with the likes of Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda (or so he claimed.)

But in spite of his obvious phoniness, I liked the guy. I found him compelling. Maybe it was his intelligence, or maybe it was that desperate emotional neediness just under his veneer.

You met him when he was a pudgy kid right out of an upper-crust prep school, so we met quite different versions of the man.

Do you want to talk about what qualities drew you to David when you met him, and how you got to know him?


I did not know him terribly well. As depicted in my film, the 18-year old David Whiting was a con artist, a thief, and a pretentious poseur. The movie portrays the fact that he offered to help me sell tickets for a college film society screening which I had organizedand then, after, tried to get me to steal some of the money.


That is a memorable scene in the film. My fictional version of David, Alistair Milborne, is a thief, too, although I had no evidence the real David  actually stole. But everything he did seemed dishonest in some way.

But all in all, David Whiting is something of a tragic figure. And it's always sad when a person dies at the age of twenty-four. 

Your film is essentially a comedy—although certainly a pitch-black one. My novel is a dark comedy as well.

Why do you think his story sparks a comic reaction rather than a sentimental one? 


David's is the story of someone who wears multiple masks, who doesn't really know who he is, and goes out of his way to tell a different falsehood to everyone he meets. Black comedy, not tragedy, is my forte. 

But there is no reason that his story could not be told in more purely dramatic terms. However, I think that it would be very difficult to prevent a purely dramatic rendering from falling into melodrama.


I agree that falling into sentimentality the way they do on those true-crime TV shows would ruin the story. Phony people do seem to be intrinsically funny. Without liars, comic writers would run out of material pretty fast. 

What else do you want to tell us about David Whiting in your film? I realize the film isn't only about him. It's also about the bigotry of your own parents and how it may be impossible to know anybody completely.


Actually, my film interweaves a variety of threads: the story of David Whiting; the search for the origins of a famous, but now forgotten, joke; the story of my parents' violent homophobia; staged interviews with Ayn Rand at two different points of her life; the reenactment of the single most famous scene from Henry James' The Wings of the Dove, with eight different casts. All interwoven as in an elaborate abstract collage.

The film attempts to ask two interconnected questions: How can we process our memories once we realize how fundamentally unreliable they are? And how is it possible to make sense out of our lives?

As we investigate people's college memories of David and also of that once famous joke, it seems that the very same people who remember that they do not remember David are the people who remember how funny the joke wasexcept that they can't remember the actual joke at all….


Tell us a little more about how you made the film and how you got funding and were able to assemble your cast. 


I shot the entire film in four days, each day on a twelve hour shooting schedule, in three different locations (each of which was used to represent several different locations). There was a crew of about six people for each day, which, for me, was a great luxury.

I funded the film entirely myself. My cast started with a few gifted actors whom I already knew. They in turn referred me to a few other actors. The cast was uniformly superb, enormously talented and gifted men and women.


That is so impressive: you didn't use a Kickstarter campaign or find a rich patronyou made your film with what you had. 

What advice would you give young (and not so-young) writers out there who dream of seeing their work in film some day?


Be fearless. The world is filled with people who will be more than willing to give you self-defeating, negative advice.

If you have a dream, the single most important question you must ask yourself ishow can you fulfill that dream? If your resources are very limited, that is not an excuse.

If you imagine an elaborate science-fiction utopian film, which, in principal, would cost a studio a minimum of 100 million dollars, but all you have is an extra $2000, then you must really look inside yourself and find a way to realize your vision anyway.


That's such great advice, Walter! That's why I'm opening this blogpost with that quote. 

Are there any other things you'd like to tell us about your film and this amazing honor it has brought you?


I am already hard at work on my second film. It too is a collage, though of a very different kind. Being a movie director is like simultaneously being a mommy and a daddy. Every movie is one of my children, and every child is different, unique, and precious.

What about you? Do you have a dream you've been afraid you might be too old or poor to fulfill? Have you felt defeated by negative advice? Do you think there are second acts in American lives? Third acts? Have you ever known an unforgettable character you felt the need to write about? 

Walter Reuben is one of the world's prominent dealers in vintage movie posters of all periods and from all countries.

He lived in Austin from 1971 through 1988 and directed his early experimental shorts there, including How Others Remember Us (1986), From Bad to Worse (1986) and How to Lose Weight (1987).

He wrote the screenplay for the festival award-winning film 
3 Stories About Evil (2008). He produced and co-wrote the short film The Harvey Girl from Shanghai (2010).

The David Whiting Story (2014) is his first feature film.

The Gatsby Game, my fictionalized version of David Whiting's story is only 99c at all the Amazons

A paper version is available for $10.99 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The ebook is available for $2.99 at Barnes and Noble for NOOKInktera and Kobo. It's also available at Scribd

When Fitzgerald-quoting con man Alistair Milborne is found dead a movie star's motel room—igniting a worldwide scandal—the small-town police can't decide if it's an accident, suicide, or foul play.

As evidence of murder emerges, Nicky Conway, the smart-mouth nanny, becomes the prime suspect. She's the only one who knows what happened. But she also knows nobody will ever believe her.

The story is based on the real mystery surrounding the death of David Whiting, actress Sarah Miles' business manager, during the filming of the 1973 Burt Reynolds movie The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing.