Interview: Screenwriter Michael Elias Discusses Debut Novel

June 1, 2020
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Screenwriter, playwright and director Michael Elias, best-known for penning Steve Martin’s movie The Jerk, takes off in a new dramatic direction with his literary thriller debut, YOU CAN GO HOME NOW (Harper, June 2020), a smart, timely and compelling psychological thriller about a NYC female cop who goes undercover at a battered women’s shelter to catch a killer while battling violent secrets of her own.   Many women will relate to main character Nina. Crisp dialogue keeps the story moving at a rapid pace. Sara Nelson is the book’s editor for HarperCollins.

In this Authorlink video interview, Michael talks about revenge (the book’s theme) and whether it is right, wrong or sometimes justified, given the weaknesses of our justice system. 

He also explains why he switched from screen writing to novel writing and shares insights into the movie business today.

How does Elias  define “commercially viable” films, today? What do audiences want? How different is novel writing from screenwriting?And what might he do differently if he had his career to do over? In the chat with Authorlink Editor Doris Booth, we gain insights into this warm-hearted and successful writer. 

A native New Yorker who now lives in Los Angeles and Paris, Elias began as an actor in the Living Theatre (The Brig) and acted in The Judson Poets Theatre, La MaMa, and Caffe Chino. Elias transitioned to Hollywood and with Frank Shaw wrote the screenplay for The Frisco Kid starring Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford, then Envoyez les Violons with Eve Babitz and began a long partnership with Rich Eustis. Together they wrote screenplays for Serial, Young Doctors in Love and created Head of the Class, a television series for ABC partially based on Elias’s experience as a high school teacher in New York City. Elias also worked with Steve Martin, a collaboration that included material for Martin’s comedy albums, network TV secoa;s. and the screenplay for The Jerk. 

Elias wrote and directed Showtime’s Lush Life with Forrest Whitaker and Jeff Goldblum. He was nominated for best director at The Cable Ace Awards that year, and the TV movie has become a jazz film classic.  His semi-autobiographical play about a small hotel in upstate New York was directed by Paul Mazursky, ran for four months in Los Angeles, with the LA Weekly naming The Catskill Sonata one of the best ten plays of the year. 

Visit his website: www.michaeleliaswriter.com 

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This post was written by Doris Booth

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