Today I'm very please to have Guy Magar visit with me during his virtual book tour. Guy is here to promote his memoir Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot; a story of his immigration to the U.S., following his dream and finding his soul mate. Before we start the Q&A, here's a little bit about him:
Guy Magar was nine years old when he left Egypt in 1958. His family immigrated to the U.S., where he grew up in Middletown, New York. Graduating from Rutgers University with a B.A. in philosophy, Guy began his film career at the London Film School. Soup Run, his first short about the homeless, won a Special Jury Prize at the 1974 San Francisco International Film Fest.
In 1978, he relocated to Los Angeles to attend the American Film Institute. His first dramatic short, Once Upon an Evening (made for $500 at the AFI) earned him a seven-year deal at Universal Studios. He soon began directing network TV dramas in the action/adventure genre. Guy has over 100 film credits including episodes of series La Femme Nikita, Sliders, The A-Team, Blue Thunder, Fortune Hunter, The Young Riders, Lawless, Hunter, and the CBS pilot/Movie of the Week Dark Avenger. He also directed 35 episodes of the studio daytime drama Capitol. In 1995, Guy was nominated for a Golden Reel Award for his television work on the series Nowhere Man.
He is the founder of the Action/Cut Filmmaking Seminars, which for the last ten years, have provided the acclaimed “page to screen” industry workshop—a two-day educational overview of the creative filmmaking process. Guy is also founder of the annual Action/Cut Short Film Competition, which provides an opportunity for filmmakers to showcase their talents.
He lives in the Hollywood Hills with Jacqui, his beautiful wife of 26 years.
And his story of Jacqui in his book is going to touch your heart. He is a true romantic! Help me give Guy a warm welcome.
Louise: Guy, welcome to my blog! I’m so excited you could join me for a chat. Please tell us a little about your new release Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot without giving too much of a spoiler away.
Guy: Pleasure for me to be on your blog, Louise and appreciate the invite and opportunity. Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot is an unconventional memoir because it deals with diverse topics such as the magic of making movies and the magic of finding true love. I’ve been blessed to have had such a kaleidoscope of experiences starting as a child in Egypt and immigrating to America, growing up in New York and learning to speak English, going to college at an incendiary political time in the country (late ‘60s) and
then setting myself on such an unlikely journey to become a film director in Hollywood.
That career adventure was a story I always wished to share because it’s been rich with wild and crazy experiences such as my first producer turning out to be a Mafia assassin, almost decapitating Drew Barrymore right after ET, and coming close to derailing James Cameron’s career though he is so talented I doubt anyone could have altered his storied destiny. Everyone loves to look behind the curtain of the movie world and this memoir takes them there.
'Kiss me quick before I shoot' was my welcoming catchphrase to my wife Jacqui whenever she visited on-set, seemingly always just before I rolled cameras. And so this book is also about a deeper magic, the magic of finding your soul mate, your life partner. Finding true love for me is all about falling in love with Jacqui, and having a costumed Camelot wedding where I got to duel for her hand (a la Errol Flynn) in a romantic Renaissance celebration that has blossomed to this day, twenty-nine years later. This journey was also worthy of telling due to the extreme dramatic turn of Jacqui suddenly being diagnosed with leukemia three years ago.
That unique medical journey to heal her through a cutting-edge clinical trial was a triumphant story of the human spirit - of her great courage - that deserved to be shared with the world. Everyone knows someone with cancer, and so I wanted to write a book about our experience that would inspire folks to get through their illnesses. For me, the grateful feedback from caregivers and cancer patients who are enjoying this book has been the most emotionally satisfying response to this memoir.
Louise: Oh, I'm so glad Drew Barrymore was not decapitated! I love her movies. When did you first decide to submit your work to be published? Tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
Guy: This book was quite a surprise. I never had an intention to write it. After the difficult seven months it took to treat Jacqui’s illness and do the transplant that healed her, and after sleeping on a cot next to her and living in a tiny hospital room for months, I had gone to see a therapist looking for ways to unwind. She told me I was going through post-traumatic stress syndrome which surprised me since I thought only veterans coming back from wars suffer from such illness. She pointed out that I had just gone through my own emotional “war” to heal my wife. She told me I needed to find a “release” and encouraged me to find it immediately.
The very next morning, I just sat down and started writing. Somehow I knew I needed to write about this journey as my release, and without an outline or any plan whatsoever, I just thought to start at the beginning and see where it took me. I was waiting to get stuck or lost and have to go back and outline the story properly but somehow I always knew when to end a chapter and how to begin the next. In the most amazing organic process I’ve experienced, this went on for four months until I reached the end of the story. Then, like with all writing, it was a matter of rewriting over and over and I believe I did over 20 full rewrites over a period of 15 months until I was happy and done with it.
Louise: Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
Guy: I come from screenwriting and all my screenplays usually begin with either a character I have in mind, or a cool story idea for a film. I’ll usually write a quick synopsis and I will keep adding to it as the idea develops until I have enough to write an outline with a beginning, middle, and end. Sometimes it’s well detailed and sometimes it’s one or two pages. But then the magic begins when you have enough to start the actual writing and this is the organic life of a writer when story and character develop hand-in-hand as you write. All the twists and turns and character bits you discover as you write is the magical part of the writing process…the journey. And as I previously mentioned, this memoir was indeed magical to write; it was uncanny how it wrote itself without any outline or story plan. On day one, I had the idea to start when I was eight in Egypt, sick with measles and my mother caring for me by candlelight as all lights were out during night air raids with British bombers heard approaching and Egyptian anti-aircraft guns firing away from outside our window during the Suez Canal War…and I just went from there. Crazy!
Louise: How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
Guy: Because of the rich stories I was writing such as my first producer turning out to be a Mafia assassin, for example, and my vision for this book to be a friendly informal fun read, it was important to illustrate the memoir with photos and I am grateful to the Google Age where you can find amazing materials online. I was able to find a police photo of this guy I had met back in college in 1971, and a photo of the Mafia chief he assassinated in the middle of the day in front of thousands of folks celebrating Italian-American Day in New York City. I also went back through my own files to find pictures of the first monster designs a young James Cameron had made for my first film which would be of great interest to movie fans. There are over 125 photos in the book and it makes it fun and personal to include them throughout the narrative to embellish the reading experience as opposed to all photos in a center section which I’ve never liked.
Louise: Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer or still do?
Guy: Sometimes I wish I could write screenplays full time but I’ve been blessed developing a directing and producing career which takes a lot of time. Even when I’m not in production, there are weekly meetings at studios developing projects, working with other writers on their film stories, discussing deals that are all in various stages of concluding or falling apart. Also ten years ago, I founded the Action/Cut Filmmaking company that gives intensive 2-day weekend seminars on how to make movies from A-to -Z and I usually give about 10 or 12 a year in major USA cities and sometimes internationally when I can fit them into my schedule. Between all that, it’s difficult to focus on writing but when I have a cool idea burning to get on paper, I find the way to focus and make it happen, just as I did writing this memoir.
Louise: Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place.
Guy: Yes, handcuffs!! Like everyone else, when it flows it’s magic…when it don’t, it’s the fridge and the munchies, and anything else to get us away from the keyboard!
Louise: LOL Handcuffing ourselves to the keyboard would be a very good discipline to write everyday. Ummm...I just hope my significant other would unlock them when I hollar! Describe a typical writing day for you.
Guy: Unfortunately, there is no typical writing day…I wish there was. Between directing and producing and teaching and running an annual short film competition and marketing my memoir, I’m lucky if I can put together 3-4 hours to just focus on a writing project. Sometimes it only happens late at night when the phone stops ringing and I can find the inspiration to just write. I’m European so Jacqui and I eat late, and we’ve always been night people and sometimes I can work till early mornings if the mojo is cookin’.
Louise: Please give us a sneak peek at your future books. What’s on the horizon?
Guy: The most exciting thing I’m presently doing is writing the stage play of Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot. I’m talking to various theaters in Los Angeles about this multimedia presentation I’m preparing with a narrator playing me, slides, videos, and actors doing different sketch scenes from the memoir. The book recently received a great review from the Directors Guild Quarterly whom are all my peers and called the memoir “a riot.” If I can translate this riot into an evening of a wild and crazy theatre performance, that would really be exciting and something new for me.
Louise: Congratulations and good luck on this new venture! What is your favorite genre to read and who is your favorite author?
Guy: I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs/biographies in the last year including Patrick Swayze’s, Steven Tyler’s, Rob Lowe’s, and of course I just finished Steve Jobs’.
Louise: Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers we have not touched on?
Guy: I wanted this book to be a good friend with which you curl up with while sipping a hot chocolate because writing this memoir was a celebration of life. For me, it’s about following your dreams and making them come true. And that’s magical, as it is for all of us, and I was hoping to share that universal commonality. I encourage my readers who share my story to be inspired to celebrate their own unique life experiences. It was my desire and hope that by sharing my magic it would inspire folks to reflect, to take the time to appreciate their own great life journeys. This is why the last parting line in my book is “Dare to dream…I did. From one magician to another: Peace.”
Louise: Where can the readers learn more about you and find your book on the web?
Guy: I wish to invite readers to the book’s website where they can enter a weekly contest to win a signed paperback of the memoir. All they have to do is vote on a favorite excerpt here - Book Excerpts. They will also find links to get the book in whatever format they wish.
I enjoyed being a guest on this blog and I thank you Louise for your kind invitation and interest in Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot.
Louise: Je vous en prie, Guy! Merci bien for being here. I love to read about someone following their dreams and the romance between you and Jacqui adds the right ingredients. Your book is definitely going on my 'To Be Read' list.
Readers, Guy is featuring a giveaway of his book in Kindle or ePub format to one lucky commenter through random draw! I'll draw the winner on Jan 22 so please be sure to leave your email address in your comment. This way I can contact the winner in a timely manner. You can also follow the rest of Guy's book tour by clicking here - vbt.com and viewing the tour schedule.
Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot on Amazon
Guy on Facebook
If you're an inspiring screenwriter or film maker, be sure to check out his Action/Cut Filmmaking site.