Interview with Stephanie and Wayne Keeley
Deadraiser and Someday Productions
Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley and Wayne J. Keeley have recently published a co-written novel, Horror in Jordan’s Bank, which is part on of their Deadraiser series. Between them, they have written, produced and directed a wide array of projects for print, stage and screen.
Indyfest spoke to Stephanie and Wayne about their work.
IM: Can you tell us more about the Deadraiser series?
Keeleys: The Deadraiser series began with some old news stories about these cults who were practising Necromancy–the ancient art of attempting to raise the dead. For example, one cult was found with a cadaver that they were using in their rituals. What was odd–and also documented–was the fact that the cadaver did not show any signs of decay. So the books actually were inspired by true events. A draft was written in the early 80s and left on a shelf. The original title was The Necromancer. When we got together as a writing team, we decided to dust it off and update it. At that time, we saw the strong possibility of it becoming a series and/or franchise. We’ve been told that it conjures up the classic horror novels of the past, which may be because the original was written in the 80s. It also has an archetypical structure: good versus evil with innocence in between.
IM: When is next instalment of Deadraiser due out?
Keeleys: Our plan is to allow Part 1: Horror in Jordan’s Bank to gain a little traction. We hope to really get the hype up to a frenzy around Halloween. Once things settle down, we expect to release Part 2: Rise of the Necromancer before the holidays. We’ll likely do a similar release pattern with Parts 3 and 4, spacing them out about every three months.
IM: Is it your first book?
Keeleys: We have co-written another novel, which currently is under print contract with a publisher. Wayne also has another novel (Mahogany Row Murders Series) he published a number of years ago which was re-released with edits by Stephanie. Finally, we have two manuscripts that are works in progress: a self-help book and a celebrity memoir.
IM: Did you self-publish it?
Keeleys: Someday Productions LLC published it, a company which Stephanie owns. It is technically not a self-published book, although it certainly is an indy-published book. Someday is debuting its first offering with this novel, but Stephanie has plans to publish other books and produce films under the Someday imprint.
IM: Can you tell us about Someday Productions LLC?
Keeleys: Someday Productions LLC is a media entertainment company and all that it implies. Someday will be publishing books, producing films, TV shows, and other programming. It already has produced several Off-Off-Broadway plays. As a corollary, Pillow Talking, a highly successful media blog, was formed under Someday’s umbrella. The blog has an amazing reach and generates 400,000 to 500,000 documented hits/visits per month. The sites for Someday and Pillow Talking are: www.somedayprods.com and www.somedayprods.com/talking.
IM: What was the other novel you wrote together?
Keeleys: We wrote a novel titled Triptych: All In, which is based upon a screenplay of the same name. In all forms, this is a project which is near and dear to us. The second-ever joint endeavor of our many past, present, and future works. Wayne wrote an original draft of the screenplay, originally titled Triptych, a year or so before we met. I have since made several edits, changes, and additions, and we’ve been working hard, but being very selective with whom we share the script, which has won many awards. We decided that the common book-before-the-film scenario might work well for us, so we adapted the screenplay into a literary work.
IM: Can you tell us more about the self-help book and celebrity memoir?
Keeleys: The self-help book is titled Beyond the Bucket List: Your Life’s Peak Experiences, and it is about going for the gusto now, instead of the usual course whereby many people wait until they’ve had near-death experiences or even terminal diagnoses. Living a positive life and having “peak experiences” is based upon psychologist Abraham Maslow’s idea of self-actualization and fulfilling one’s individual potential through transcendent moments of pure joy and elation. Wayne’s oldest son Wyatt has muscular dystrophy; I’m a psychotherapist and professor of psychology—we have a lot of vested interest in the subject.
The celebrity memoir is about Golden Globe-winning and Oscar-nominated actress/icon Sally Kirkland. About a year ago, we interviewed her for our blog Pillow Talking, and have since formed a relationship with her. She asked us to pen her memoirs and we’ve had multiple conversations with her; we also are utilizing her bounty of journals and diaries. She is a fascinating woman, who has lived through many challenges, and has worked with countless legends in the business.
IM: Do you have any films or plays in the pipeline?
Keeleys: As I mentioned, we are always hoping for lightning in a bottle—as for film scripts, we have Triptych, as well as a comedy-bromance script in the hands of a few people. In addition, we have no less than a half-dozen other scripts ready to go.
With regard to plays, we have a powerful work we wrote called Dark Rift, for which we’d hoped to have a staged reading in October, but the wonderful venue we’d chosen unexpectedly closed, so we’re back at square one. We have another play we’ve staged several times called Waiting for the Sun, but currently, it’s on the shelf alongside the multiple one-acts we’ve penned, produced, and directed (summer of 2015 was a big season for us in NYC, where we launched many of them Off-Off-Broadway and both placed and won in a few competitions). It is tough to be so diversified—we just cannot find the time to launch everything in all genres!
IM: Is it difficult to alternate between script and prose writing?
Keeleys: Not difficult, but there are differences. With scripts, it’s almost like you’re creating an outline—you know you’ve got to leave certain things out and allow a director to fill in the blanks. With prose, you have to give your reader more, since there will not eventually be that visual to go along with the words you’ve written.
Once we get ourselves in the mindset of each type of writing, we simply write. It’s like changing gears. We are creative people and we need to get in “the zone” as we like to call it—then we are full-speed ahead with anything which happens to be in our current focus. We tune out other projects in order to be most effective in whatever it is we’re doing.
IM: Is writing plays very different to writing for the screen?
Keeleys: Stage and screen are similar in that you’ll have a director’s input, but with plays, you have to consider that there won’t be camera angles and close ups and all the real-life sets and situations of film—therefore, you have to think about more “make believe” and creative ways to express what an actor is thinking or feeling. In some ways, you have to create more magic—but that’s incredibly fun and imaginative.
IM: Is your blog part of the company or more of a hobby?
Keeleys: The blog was intended to facilitate Someday Productions’ projects. To a certain extent, it was never intended to be a mass media content outlet. You never know in this business when lightning in a bottle strikes and, to our surprise, the blog took off and really has an independent life of its own—it keeps us VERY busy! We review theatre, film, television, books, music, etc. We write nearly everything in a “He Said/She Said” format. This really has caught on with our readers and the venues for whom we review. We also have reviewers who guest review for us, including video games, comic books, and occasionally, some other entertainment works. In addition, we have guest bloggers who share their professional expertise on a variety of subjects. We expect Pillow Talking to continue to increase in reach and exposure.
IM: What impact has new technology (i.e. the Internet) had on your business over the years?
Keeleys: The internet has made research easier in all ways, and that includes how we incorporate elements into our works. Everything is at the touch of a keyboard. The internet has allowed writers quicker and more efficient ways to reach out to others in the business, and given us more options for getting our work out there to more people, while relying less on the outmoded ways peddling your wares by making phone calls and snail-mailing manuscripts or scripts. But that’s good and bad; it’s also increased the competition, saturating the market. No matter what, cream rises to the top, and if you have a good product, the hope is that people will find it, read it, or see it—and love it.
As for our blog, the entire face of it is internet-based. We market like crazy and are fortunate that it has garnered us 400,000–500,000 hits/visits per month. We’ve also been extremely lucky to have had the pleasure of meeting countless incredible artists and talents as a result; we wouldn’t have had those opportunities come so easily if it weren’t for the web. We are so grateful that we have that many people coming to our site to read our words—and then coming back again and again.
Keeleys: We are always searching for the next project and in these kinds of talks. (If you know anything about the film business, projects are always “hurry up and wait,” and many also fall by the wayside, even when they seem to be a sure thing.) But more to your question, when you produce any type of media that requires an investment on any level, it’s inevitable that relationships and/or connections with investors are formed.
IM: How does the process work for filmmakers? Do they approach you?
Keeleys: We sometimes reach out, and also are very open to hearing from other writers and film-makers. We always keep our eyes open for potential projects that we can either become involved with at a writing level, a producing level, or at some other level of creative involvement.
IM: What are your backgrounds?
Keeleys: Stephanie is an award-winning writer, director, and producer. She has a Master of Arts in counseling psychology, was formerly a practising psychotherapist, and director of a women’s work release facility. She currently is a professor of psychology at two Connecticut colleges. The field serves as a big part of her creative endeavours.
Stephanie also is a journalist, writer, editor and, together with her husband Wayne, has penned countless works for film, theatre, TV, and the literary world. Together they have created a production company, Someday Productions LLC and a highly successful “He Said/She Said” blog called Pillow Talking, which may be found at www.somedayprods.com/talking. Most importantly, they have seven beautiful children between them.
Wayne is an Emmy award-winning writer, director, and producer. He is an attorney with a LLM from NYU. He teaches film-making and communications at Western Connecticut State University, and has taught at Fordham University, Audrey Cohen College, Baruch College, and Bronx Community College. He has created many programs and documentaries that have appeared on television, and have been distributed to schools, libraries, and home video. He is a published author of the novel Mahogany Row. He is married to Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley, his writing partner and muse. His full bio can be found on Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_keeley.