As a writer, it’s so hard to have definite schedule for releasing your writing. You never know when life happens and completely wrecks whatever plan you might have had for the week. Or maybe that dreaded “writer’s block” comes creeping up on you a couple days when before you writing was due. Donald Scott has bravely faced such risks by publishing a TV series, called “Candyland,” that one can read FREE on a weekly basis.
Michael: Can you please tell us a little about your background?
Donald: I grew up in a small town in Indiana, sick a lot as a kid so fell in love with the “Morning Movie” they always showed – usually an old Hollywood classic. From there, the usual TV-watching background as a kid, and I was a truly avid reader once I discovered Agatha Christie at the age of twelve. I’ve always had a fascination with celebrity and how we treat those in entertainment in this country, and have even lived in Los Angeles a couple of times in my life – each time meeting some very famous and not-so-famous people, but always appreciating the hard work and dedication of the actor, especially one who is still struggling to have his or her voice heard and face seen. I started writing soon as I could pick up a pen, wrote my first “book” (38 pages) in the 5th grade, and have published mostly short fiction and poetry so far, with several scripts and TV series ideas I’ve been working on, as well as a recently completed mystery novel.
Michael: How did you come up with the idea of doing a TV series that one can read?
Donald: I love how Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (two of my favorite writers) made their mark first – by serializing their stories and novels in magazines; whenever a new issue came out, you got the next installment of the story. I love writing short scenes, and I love writing cliffhangers – so as a throwback to those literary masters, as well as some of the classic night-time dramas like “Dallas” or “Dynasty”, I thought, How cool would it be for someone who was more a reader than a TV series viewer, to be able to get a new installment of their favorite story each week – like their favorite television series – that would leave them anxious for the next episode, soon as they were done? Also, even though the episodes are in narrative and not screenwriting format, I think my dream it to be working on-staff of a television series … and “Candyland” is my way of showing the powers that be that I can write episodic television, complete with cliffhangers, and bring that sense of urgency to every episode, each week. Plus, this way, comments and responses from the readers can actually have the potential to INFLUENCE the series, as it’s written on-the-go … and what other writing project currently exists that can say that?
Michael: So as you’re releasing these episodes every week, you seem to being picking up a following. Where do you see this project going in the future?
Donald: Showtime. That is my dream network, and I am absolutely determined that one day “Candyland” will actually make it to television, period. It’d have to be cable, due to the language and adult situations, but as series from “Shameless” to “Entourage” to “Queer as Folk” to “Desperate Housewives” were a huge chunk of the inspiration I had to create this mammoth project, I’d love to see it up there, one day, with them on television. I think it deserves to be there, and from what reader feedback I am getting, I am hoping someone in a position to help it there will read it, and feel the same potential lies within. From the beginning, I’ve always said, “Just READ IT. I am fine with letting the writing speak for itself.”
Michael: I see that you had a “dream cast” for your project, why did you pick these actors to be your leads?
Donald: Total gut feeling; going on instinct. When the series “Dirt” premiered years ago, I thought it was brilliant that Courteney Cox could play such a heartless b*tch (though the character did have her vulnerability), and from the moment Candace Gray bloomed fully into my mind, it was always with Courteney Cox playing her; no one else seemed right, and now no one ever will, even if the show does make it to TV and she doesn’t want to play the part or it’s given to someone else. Hunter came next; I knew I wanted someone fresh-faced and blond, an innocent from the Midwest originally coming to the minefield that is L.A., but couldn’t really wrap my head around the character very much beyond that … until I literally chanced upon a photo of actor Kenton Duty online, and IMMEDIATELY Hunter blossomed fully in my head. In real life Kenton is somewhat taller than Hunter, but like Courteney/Candace there simply will never be another Hunter in my head; he and Candace were the backbone of the story, and when I realized only Kevin Wu could play Oscar, the rest came about from there.
It all starts with character, in every instance; I have a base idea of the character, and where he/she will fit into the storyline, then just look over actors photos, image after image, until my brain says, “That’s HIM!” or “That’s HER!” – or, conversely, for someone like Daniel Radcliffe I actually created a character that came to mind when I saw a particular photo of the actor … and darned is Edgar Cain hasn’t been stirring up trouble, in my head and on the page, since. But it’s like the chicken or the egg – sometimes the actor comes first (like with Courteney, Kenton and Kevin), or the character comes first. But either way, until the two become one I keep searching until I that happens.
Michael: Wow, I think that’s the dream that a lot us writers have, getting your writing produced as a TV show or movie. Let’s go back to the beginning. When did you start writing and what was it that sparked this passion?
Donald: I really got serious when I was about 12 years old, and wanted to turn out my own Agatha Christie-type novel; was obsessed with the mystery genre (probably one big reason even “Candyland” – in the teaser – opens with a mystery). Christie sparked me, then I wrote “The Case of the Pen-Ray” in 5th grade and got such praise for it, I just kept going. As mentioned before, I was a sick kid for a while, home from school a lot, and when you write you can create your own worlds on paper – your own heroes and villains and friends – so I guess you could say that I might have sometimes been alone, but was never lonely.
Michael: You seemed to have had this calling at a young age. Are there any other works that you have done in the past that you’d like to recommend to our readers?
Donald: Hmm, not quite yet; I’ve been focusing the last several years on research (amazing, what 3+ years of living in Los Angeles can turn into, story-wise) and honing what little talent I have for screenwriting, so haven’t published in a bit. I have a Kindle short story on Amazon, ‘Blue-Tail Fly’, that I’m sort of proud of.
Michael: And I think the research that you have been doing definitely shows in your writing. Are there any other projects you are concurrently working on?
Donald: I really got into the first season of “The Mysteries of Laura” this past year, and had been looking for awhile for the basis of an idea for series of mystery novels; Debra Messing inspired the lead character (I guess actors have ALWAYS inspired characters in me), and I’ve been working on the first in the series when “Candyland” and life in general doesn’t keep me crazy.
Michael: So…I’ve got to say. I’m one of those Netflix bingers who like to wait til the season is done and watch through the whole thing over a weekend. The anticipation of waiting for the next episode for a whole week is just too much for me. Are there plans on compiling all the episodes together at the end of the project and publishing as a book?
Donald: Absolutely! Though at the rate the length the episodes are going, the finished book will end up being over 700 pages long! (The series doesn’t end until Christmas Day of this year.) But yes, there was always the plan to put it all together, in the end, as one story.
Michael: Now, I see on your website that you are looking for donations to help sponsor this project. I love the idea about having a sponsor written into the series. How did you come up with the idea and how far away are you from your sponsorship goal?
Donald: Without going into too much detail, we’re still only halfway to the original goal; the $3500 mentioned in the one post has had a dent put into it, but I am afraid those donations are seriously doing to be needed if “Candyland” is going to make it to The End. The sponsorship idea came about because I had already written our # 1 into one of the episodes, in a small role, but for the sponsorship donation of course that person would have a much larger part of the proceedings! I think the novelist Harlan Coben also does this, giving the money he receives from it to charity … but he’s much, much wealthier than me.
Michael: That sounds excellent! I’ve only read a couple of episode so far, but I’m enjoying it. What is it that you want your readers to get out of your series?
Donald: I love actors with all my heart. Completely empathize with their daily struggles. Especially as the odds are so much against them succeeding. I am the guy who, when watching a film or television episode, pays just as much attention to the actors in the background – the actors with only a few lines of dialogue in the entire show, or maybe even no lines at all, without whom the “stars” would have no realistic backdrop to play against.
With “Candyland” I want to show people a dramatized story that reveals what it takes to get to that red carpet. The crushed dreams, sacrifices, emotional and physical abuse – the fire you have to go through with no assurance you’ll ever reach your dream. The price of fame, and what some are willing to pay to get it.
Most of all, I want those reading or watching “Candyland” to answer for themselves one main question behind why I am writing it in the first place. A question I would like to put to even the biggest celebrities out there, asking them to look back on all they did – and had to do – to get where they are now: “Was it worth it?” THAT is the ultimate question I hope to answer with “Candyland”, at least for some of my characters, by the December 25th finale.
Michael: Now I’m really excited to continue reading this series! Thank you so much for sharing with us your TV series! I hope readers out there were paying attention when we mentioned that readers can have an opportunity to be written into the series. Make sure you take a look at Donald’s website and hit that donate button!
For those of you interested, go and check out the FREE series here (warning: contains language and subject matter suitable for adults only):