Nancy Fulton interview with David Alan Binder

posted Mar 28, 2019, 10:30 AM by David Alan Binder

Nancy Fulton interview with David Alan Binder My Novel. Do you have to love your kid less just because he’s a genetic monster engineered by a madman? : Several works I’ve written including some I wrote with Judd Nelson, who is an amazing writer. Several AudioDramas and lectures to support working creatives. My live online and face to face events and resources for writers, screenwriters, producers, and performers.


1.     How do you pronounce your name? 

It’s Nancy Fulton :)


2.     Where are you currently living?

I live in Santa Monica. It’s about 20 minutes from downtown Hollywood on a good day, and it is an hour and a half on a bad one.


3.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

I have learned so many strange things.


My mother was a journalist and she taught me to read by teaching me to write.  We would write stories then I’d read them aloud.  I think I’ve learned that’s the best way to teach kids to read and write, to make up stories and to tell them.


I’ve learned that great works of both fact and fiction are works of madness, and what the works capture is that madness. 


Noah Webster’s demented idea that he could find and define all the words, or Roget’s crazy notion that he could accurately depict families of words, or Macfarquhar, Bell, and Smellie’s Encyclopedia Britannica. Did they really believe they could tell everyone everything?


All these folks were doing something insane, started something they would never see the end of, and happily invested their lives creating something almost no one could be expected to want. 


Lolita, Hamlet, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, To Kill a Mockingbird, Interview with a Vampire, a Streetcar Named Desire, Heart of Darkness, and The Shining. Having read those books, it seems clear those authors were out of their minds. They were often  lost in despair and living in fiction because their real world was intolerable.


It’s crazy to write. It’s crazy to create. It’s crazy to be driven by the need to say something you feel is “true” when there are dishes to wash, kids to feed, jobs to go to. 


We should all be doing other things . . .


But something about that madness is  uniquely human and I think the need to create and share what we feel is our salvation in our darkest hours.


4.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

Left to my own devices I can easily give multiple characters in a work names that start with the same letter.


I use the same first names in multiple books.  David, for example. There’s a name you’ll find a lot in my books. I know almost no David’s . . . but I write about David’s all the time.


In the real world, I have a hard time with names as well. I can meet someone on the street and remember everything about the projects they are working on, how many kids they have, and where they grew up without remembering their first and last names.


5.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

I wrote training materials and computer manuals for many years and worked for a lot of publishers. In the 1990’s I launched an online training site where people paid to subscribe to my work, and since then I’ve mostly self-published.

I’m not allergic to working with a publisher; it’s just been easier to sell my work directly to audiences because I had many rounded up.


6.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I mostly sell eBooks, access to videos, and occasional audio recordings of interviews, lectures, and stories these days.  I don’t sell print works because, by and large, people don’t want to buy them. I earn more when they by electronic media and it also saves trees.  


I used to love print books, but now I read and listen to almost everything on my phone. So I think this is a pretty standard trend.


7.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

People think that what makes a writer rich is their work.  Their book, their screenplay, their stage play, etc.


But writers become wealthy when they know their audience and their audience knows them.   When 10,000 people have found you, and happily buy whatever you sell, you can keep yourself gainfully employed writing whatever you want. 


Publishing is as easy as creating a pretty PDF or a beautiful audio file and making it available for sale. You are a professional writer when people pay for your work.


8.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

Well, there are few things to think about.  There’s often a notion that an agent is going to spend a lot of time pitching you and your work to publishers. And they will if you have a lot of finished work to pitch and you have proven that a certain kind of reader really loves your work.

When you have 10,000 rabid fans who love everything you write and you have written several works you haven’t sold, you’ll be able to contact most agents and get a great response. 

But, at that point, you can also just contact editors and publishers who cater to the kind of people who love your work. You will have demonstrated your economic value to the world at large and you’ll have lots of content to sell.

It’s possible to get an agent with just a single great book and with no following at all. I’ve known people who have done that. But the deals they get haven’t been good enough to sustain the author as a writer in most cases. 


9.     Do you have any suggestions or help for new writers (please be so specific that this most likely will not have been seen elsewhere)?

Set up a website with your pen name. It’s best if your name is unique. will work better than because there are a lot of people named Mary Jones in the world and when a reader can’t find you, they can’t become a fan.

Write several works and post them on your website. Make it so readers have to give you an email address to get each story. This is how you build the list of 10,000. The first works you write you give away in return for an email address. Later you can email them to tell them about works they can buy. You may find, at this point, that delivering books using a platform like works best because you make more money and every customer you acquire becomes part of your mailing list.

When you sell through Amazon and other platforms, you have no direct relationship with your reader.  That’s bad for them and for you.

10.                        What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I had never wanted a writing partner. I hated writing with other people. But one day a really remarkable guy, a seasoned creative professional I’d admired for many years, liked a story well enough to work on it with me.  Now Judd Nelson and I share many works. It is possible for a creative collaboration to be effortless, joyful, and transformative. That’s something you could never have told me.

11.                        How many books have you written?

Novels and graphic novels, some under pseudonyms, nine I think. Screenplays, short, long, and series, over a hundred. Stage plays, three. Audiodramas, more than a dozen. Non-fiction books and training manuals of all kinds, hundreds. I write, literally, all the time.


12.                        Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be so specific that this most likely will not have been seen elsewhere)?

Don’t edit while you write. Get the story on page as clearly and accurately as you can, then go back and edit. Writing is a visionary process and trying to edit while you do it is disabling.


That said, some writers have an entirely different process. They can’t have chapter one filled with errors and write a good chapter two.  So experimentation is required to figure out what lets you move efficiently through a story from beginning to end.


13.                        Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

These days it seems clear to me that character is destiny.  Your characters will provide their own twists if they are driven people actively trying to achieve their goals.

Characters like Walter White from Breaking Bad or Don Draper from Mad Men bring the drama by their very nature. And the characters who hang out with them are necessarily driven too, because if they weren’t they’d have wandered off to hang out with calmer people.

I don’t, personally, like books that teach a recipe for stories.

Even the Hero’s Journey is less than helpful I find. I can finish a book or a screenplay and look back and see the plot points happening at the right times, but I don’t make them happen. And sometimes I like works that break the rules. 

I often like a writer’s first draft better than their last.

14.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

A unique madness. The first time you run into Dexter you think, “I’ve never seen this character before. The maniacal serial killer that kills other serial killers. Jesus, that’s a good idea.” 


Harry Potter, a boy wizard, a boy exiled from a magical world who is rediscovered by it and ultimately saves it from a villain so afraid of dying he shredded himself into a 7 headed hydra.  “Well, that’s new.  Do evil people tear themselves apart because they are afraid to die? I’ll have to think about that.”


15.                        What is one unusual way in which you promote your work?

         I don’t know that I do anything radical really.


16.                         What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

I don’t know if I have anything, I’d do differently. I’ve spent a lifetime writing . . .


17.                        What saying or mantra do you live by?

Carpe Diem.

Life is very short and death knocks on every door.  So work hard to be really nice to people, especially those you love. Tell them you love them, show them you care about them, because there will come a day when you can’t do that because you are gone or they are gone.

Do the stuff you care the most about and burn the candle at both ends if you have to.  I totally “get” people who stay up until 3am to write and go to work at 6am then next morning because they have to pay the bills.


18.                        Anything else you would like to say?

This was a fun interview.  I hope some of the resources I’ve linked to will prove interesting or useful. I think hearing writers talk about their inner lives is one of the most interesting and encouraging experiences. I think the interviews you do are really cool . . .