This week we would like you to meet Author and Screenwriter Ricardo Fleshman.
1. What was the inspiration behind becoming an author/screenwriter? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?
I have loved reading and writing for as long as I can remember. The first story to ever strike a chord in me – I believe I was six or seven years old – set into motion my lifelong love of the written word. It is my passion, my addiction, my love. My favorite part of the process, that is to say what I find the most fulfilling, is creating something that transports the audience and allows them not just an escape, but a lasting emotional journey. As an author, when you can do that and do it successfully, your characters become an indelible part of the reader; you become part of the reader. There are few things as equally lasting and as rewarding as that.
2. Can you take us through your process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?
I do not write in a linear fashion. I do not write from an outline. I typically start with a premise and build everything else around it. That involves many hours of research – online and on location, and via interviews and articles – to weave the authenticity I require into the story. I write by scene, which sometimes that means I write the ending first. That works the same for books or screenplays. If I work consistently I can complete a piece in about three months, though I have to say sometimes a story has been in my head for months or years before I actually put pen to the proverbial paper. The books are in every format (ebook, paperback & audio) and have all done very well. They have all sold copies beyond my expectations and (of course) as more people discover the two series, the better they sell. The screenplays have received numerous awards and been named as “official selections” of several film festivals but that style of writing is a much longer process.
3. What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?
Overwhelmingly, people believe that writers possess some type of innate and esoteric ability to write, to create, when in fact a great writer will spend their entire lives continuing to learn and hone their craft. I would love to believe that as well. But the truth is I read almost as much as I write. I am borderline obsessive about developing my writing skills to become a better author/screenwriter than I have been. It takes time to strike the balance between genre and plot, characters and their motivations, actions, dialogue, etc. to draft a story that draws the reader in and holds them until the end. I was well into my thirties before I wrote my first full-length book. It was not until I had gained the life experience combined with education that I found my voice and was able to write a mature, well written story. I have learned how to write screenplays and even though I have received several film festival and screenwriting awards, I am still putting to use the feedback I have gotten from industry professionals to make my screenwriting better.
4. When did you first become aware of copyright and why?
In 2013, when I completed my first book, my agent and I were considering selling it to publishers or going the self-published route. Because I needed to consider the impacts of both decisions, I really needed to learn about and understand what rights to the work(s) would give me the greatest flexibility. Retaining the rights to my works, as well as protecting myself and my property from infringement, were two of the main reasons that I chose to go the route I did. It is also important to me that I do not infringe upon the rights of others; e.g. I’m sure to only use artwork or images for my book covers that I obtain legally. Now as my library continues to grow, I am concerned about the protection of all of my intellectual property. For example – Moses, Armond and Lisette are all characters I have created and, whereas they exist in the worlds of the books and screenplays, they as individual creations belong to me and I need to protect my interests there as well.
5. What is the best piece of advice that you’d offer to fellow creators regarding copyright and how to protect themselves?
Educate yourself. Take that as a first step. Protecting yourself and your work – no matter the form – is important and should be as much a part of the process as the creation itself. Releasing your work into the world can provide lifetimes of enjoyment and education for others and you deserve the ownership, credit, and ability to profit from all of your hard work and time invested.