Saturday, June 16, 2007


There will be so much excitement at ThrillerFest between CraftFest, the author spotlight interviews, the panels, the lunches, the auctions, the banquets, the parties! A little relaxation is called for, and who better to provide it than ITW President David Morrell?

For those who would rather not spend the evening enjoying the excitement of New York City, Friday night from 7-8:30, all ThrillerFest attendees are invited to “The Making of a ThrillerWriter.” Join David for a brief lecture followed by a screening of one of his favorite TV shows: ROUTE 66. I had lots of questions, like why Route 66? And would popcorn be served? Here’s what David had to say:
When I was 17 and going nowhere, my life changed on the first Friday of October
in 1960. I can even be specific about the time: 8:30 pm.
That's when the first episode of ROUTE 66 premiered, and I'm still deeply
influenced by the experience.

With overtones of Jack Kerouac's ON
THE ROAD, the series was about two young men in a Corvette convertible who drove
across the United States in search of America and themselves. Ironically,
the stories seldom took place on the famed highway for which the series was
named. Instead, the production crew (two huge eighteen-wheeler trucks)
criss-crossed the country. Not one scene was ever filmed in a

Few super-highways existed then. Communities tended
to be distinctive. Most of the locations have now been destroyed. As
a consequence, the 116 episodes of the series are a vivid depiction of America
from 1960-1964, an America that no longer exists.

The series
featured great directors (such as Robert Altman and Sam Peckinpah) and
exciting actors (such as Robert Redford and Tuesday Weld). Each
week, Nelson Riddle contributed an original score. But the main strength
of the show is that two-thirds of the scripts were written by Stirling
Silliphant, who eventually received an Oscar for IN THE HEAT OF THE

Silliphant's scripts were an intriguing blend of intense
action and philosophic/poetic speeches that had a flavor of Tennessee Williams
combined with William Inge and Arthur Miller. His writing so knocked me
out that I wrote him a letter, explaining my sudden ambition to follow his
path. The long letter he sent me in return contains all the advice a
writer needs: "Write, write, keep writing, and then write more."
That letter is framed next to my desk.

He and I stayed in touch
over the years, and eventually I was thrilled to work with him when he served as
executive producer for the NBC miniseries of my novel THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE

The episode I'm going to show is called BIRDCAGE ON MY
FOOT. The guest star is Robert Duval. The location is Boston.
The script is by Silliphant. It's one of the very best episodes of the
series, and it illustrates why ROUTE 66 is one of the all-time great television

Alas, I won't be serving popcorn.

Hope to see you there!

Stacy Alesi
I am the BookBitch

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