Guest Post: How I Became A TV Writer By E. Van Lowe
People always ask me how I got started writing for television. Growing up in New York I had no desire to write for TV or film. I knew I was destined to become a playwright/novelist. I’m lucky enough to say I am a playwright and a novelist, but most of my career has been spent writing for TV and some film.
This started when I finished college. I had written my first horror novel Child’s Play under the pseudonym Sal Conte. My mentor/professor from USC, Shelly Lowenkopf had high hopes for the novel. And since he did, so did I. I envisioned getting one of those dream advances. I would become a media darling, taking up the author’s seat on late-night couches. That did not come to pass.
After Child’s Play was rejected by all the major houses, I got the manuscript back from my agent. Dejected, I went to a newsstand and was looking over paperback original horror titles. Many of them seemed to be similar to what I was doing. I sent letters to a number of the publishers, and heard back from Dorchester. I sent them the manuscript and a few weeks later I received a contract in the mail. The advance was $5000. If I wanted to write full time I needed a writing gig that paid a whole lot more.
I was lamenting my situation to a friend who said “why don’t you try writing for TV?” My brother and I watched lots of TV when we were kids. I mean LOTS of TV. LOL. Having watched so much, I felt I had a good handle on TV, but I’d never seen a teleplay. I’d spent two and a half years at USC and not bothered to look at anything dealing with television.
The calling card for a TV writer is his/her spec script. This is an episode of a popular show that you write. You have to make sure you don’t write subjects the show has already covered, and you have to sound exactly like the show. That was the challenge for me: fresh idea on a popular show, while capturing the characters voices exactly. It’s not as easy as it seems. You need a good script, and a lot of luck to get the right people to read it.
Eleven spec scripts in, my luck kicked in. I met a producer at MTM, one of the major production companies back then—Taxi, Bob Newhart and The Mary Tyler-Moore Show. It was Mary’s company—MTM. The producer was honest enough to tell me I was doing everything wrong. He mentored me on writing a new spec script. The script caught the eye of a few big companies. Both wanted to sign me. Happy days. I signed with Universal in 1985, and haven’t looked back. For Universal TV I wrote, He’s The Mayor, Charles In Charge and Knight Rider. One thing I knew when I started working was one day I would return to writing books. Books were my first love. What I didn’t realize is it would take twenty-two years.
That’s how it happened for me. I kept writing and eventually got lucky. That, to me, is the formula for success as a writer—if you keep working hard, eventually you will get lucky. The first four chapters (pdf) of Boyfriend From Hell are available for free right now on my website. Readers can go to http://evanlowe.com/ and click on the Boyfriend From Hell Sample link to get them. If you like them, both Boyfriend from Hell and Earth Angel are available on the purchase page. I hope you will give my books a try.
Synopsis for Boyfriend From Hell:
Aww, Hell No!
Fifteen year-old Megan Barnett and her single mom, Suze, have a special relationship—they are friends, close friends, who do almost everything together.
“But come on, guys, she’s my mother… Can I really tell her that while we’re snuggled up on the sofa watching Spider Man Three, I’m secretly undressing James Franco with my eyes? Of course not…”
The special bond takes a turn for the worse when Suze decides to start dating again. She hasn’t had a man in her life since Megan’s father left ten years ago.
Enter two mysterious young men, Megan’s new classmate, sinfully attractive bad boy, Guy Matson, and the dangerously handsome art dealer, Armando. Before long Megan and Suze both wind up in steamy relationships. But neither of the handsome guys is quite what he seems. In fact, one of them is Satan, with his sights set on a new bride. Megan has precious little time to figure out how to stop him. If she doesn’t, either Megan or Suze are quite literally going to HELL.
Boyfriend From Hell is the first book in the Falling Angels Saga from the author of the gruesomely hilarious, Never Slow Dance With A Zombie
Synopsis for Earth Angel:
Heaven Can Wait!
Just because Megan Barnett recently defeated Satan, has a fantastic new best friend, and has won the love of deliciously handsome, Guy Matson, doesn’t mean her troubles are over. Far from it. For Megan doesn’t realize it, but in her possession is a powerful weapon, a weapon sought after by both angels and demons and everything in between. They will do ANYTHING to get it.
In E. Van Lowe’s humorous, romantic and thrilling sequel to Boyfriend From Hell, Megan winds up in a gripping life or death battle to save herself, the boy she loves, and all of mankind from unthinkable evil.
Megan Barnett has recently defeated Satan, found a fantastic new best friend, and has won the heart of deliciously handsome, Guy Matson. But that doesn’t mean her troubles are over. Far from it. For Megan doesn’t realize that she is in possession of a powerful paranormal weapon, a weapon sought after by both angels, demons and everything in between.
In E. Van Lowe’s romantic yet thrilling sequel to Boyfriend From Hell, Megan finds herself in a gripping life or death battle to save the boy she loves, and all of mankind from unthinkable evil.
Synopsis for Never Slow Dance With A Zombie: On the night of her middle school graduation, Margot Jean Johnson wrote a high school manifesto detailing her goals for what she was sure would be a most excellent high school career. She and her best friend, Sybil, would be popular and, most important, have boyfriends. Three years later they haven’t accomplished a thing!
Then Margot and Sybil arrive at school one day to find that most of the student body has been turned into flesh-eating zombies. When kooky principal Taft asks the girls to coexist with the zombies until the end of the semester, they realize this could be the perfect opportunity to live out their high school dreams. Now all they have to do is stay alive . . .
About The Author:
E. Van Lowe is an author, television writer, screenwriter, Playwright and Producer who has written and produced such shows as The Cosby Show, Even Stevens, and Homeboys In Outer Space. He has been nominated for both an Emmy and an Academy Award. Van Lowe recently stepped into the young adult fiction genre with his comedic novel, Never Slow Dance With A Zombie. It was a selection of the Scholastic Book Club, and a nominee for an ALA Award. Boyfriend From Hell is Van Lowe’s second YA novel.