Monday, May 20, 2024

The 40 But 10 Interview series: Paul Chitlik


I had decided to retire the literary Would You Rather series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Today we are joined by Paul Chitlik. Paul has written for all the major networks and studios in English and in Spanish.  He was story editor for MGM/UA'S "The New Twilight Zone," and staff writer for Showtime's sitcom "Brothers."  He has written features for Rysher Entertainment, NuImage, Promark, Mainline Releasing, and others.  He has directed episodes and been coordinating producer for “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol” and “U.S. Customs Classified.”  He wrote and produced “Alien Abduction,” the first network movie shot on digital video for UPN.  He wrote, produced, and directed “Ringling Brothers Revealed” a special for The Travel Channel.  (He had been a roustabout for Circus Vargas years earlier.)  Most recently he wrote, produced and directed “The Wedding Dress,” for Amazon Prime.  He received a Writers Guild of America award nomination for his work on "The Twilight Zone" and a GLAAD Media Award nomination for "Los Beltrán,” a Telemundo show.  He won a Genesis Award for a Showtime Family movie.

He has taught in the MFA programs of UCLA, the University of Barcelona’s film school ESCAC, Cuba’s film school EICTV, Chile’s film school UNIACC, The University of Zulia in Venezuela, The Panamerican University in Mexico City, The Story Academy of Sweden and as a clinical associate professor at Loyola Marymount University.  Now writing full time again and living near his grandson in Chapel Hill, NC, with wife, Beth McCauley. 

Why do you write?

For me there are only three reasons to write:  to entertain, to make a reader feel an emotion, and to change the world one reader at a time.  I think every writer wants to change the world.  That’s why we create worlds, so we can have it our way.  But in a larger sense, I want to contribute to a better world, and writing is one way to do that. 


What do you do when you’re not writing?

These days I spend a lot of time with my grandson.  I love discovering the world anew as he learns about it.


What’s something that’s true about you but no one believes? 

I’m a crack shot with a rifle.  As a twelve-year-old, I was in the Junior NRA.  With a .22 rifle, I reached Sharpshooter level, the highest category at the time.  But I’ve never owned a gun and don’t intend to.


What’s the best money you’ve ever spent as a writer?

Travel.  And more travel.  It opens your eyes to other ways of living.  And eating. 


Describe your book in three words.

Search for self.


Would you and your main character get along?

Once he figured out who he wanted to be as opposed to who he was, yes.


If you could spend one day with another author, who would you choose and why?

Carl Hiaasen.  He’s got such a great imagination and sense of humor.  We’d talk and laugh all day, sharing and making up stories.


What is your favorite book from childhood?

The Story of Dr. Dolittle by Hugh Lofting.  I spent many hours in the public library reading all of his books.


What are you currently reading?

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese.  Just finished Doña Perfecta, by Benito Perez Galdós.  Both portray village life in their stories – one in India, the other in Spain - in ways that make you feel you live there for a bit.


If you could go back and rewrite one of your books or stories, which would it be and why?

I’d go back and rewrite “With the Greatest of Ease,” which I wrote when I was first starting out.  It’s never gotten out of my desk drawer and for good reason.  I really didn’t know what I was doing then.  What I got right, though, was the circus because I was fascinated enough at the time to work in one for a short while.  Now I know story better.  And people better.



There I stood, all five eight of me, poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, soaking wet in my retro bathing suit, holding a dry pair of tickets to the Emmys that night, in front of a gorgeous woman, and I didn’t know who I was, where I was, or why I was. Or, just as importantly, who she was and what she was to me. Over the course of the next few days I discovered I was a thirty-something Emmy winning writer-actor showrunning a popular sitcom, but I had to learn about that one detail at a time until my memory came back. Then I realized I could be anyone I wanted to be, but I had to decide who that was and what that would mean for my girlfriend, my wife, my kids, my father, my brother, my cast, my agent, my PR maven, my assistant, and a 135 other people who depended on me for their livelihoods or their lives.I had the opportunity to change my life completely, and I did, eventually doing something real for other people while my gay sitcom character came out as straight and flipped the script on my show and my life.

Buy a copy here. 

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