Author Interview - Kyle Dickinson

 1. When did you begin writing? What inspired you to start?

Like many writers, I guess I would say I have "always been writing" in some capacity, but it wasn't until the age of fifteen that I truly fell in love with writing as a way to help me understand myself and the world around me. I was in a pretty serious dirt bike accident that resulted in a lot of broken bones and a nasty head injury. I lost a lot of memories, some of which never returned, and ever since then things have have been pretty scrambled in my mind. On top of having type one bipolar disorder, I was wheelchair-bound and couldn't go to school for several months. I found myself writing poetry to help me cope, and I haven't ever stopped. I've since shifted my main focus to other forms of writing, but my approach will always be rooted in poetry and an intense desire to make sense out of the chaos of being alive.

2. What was your first writing project?

My first major project was a feature length screenplay titled Cigarettes For Breakfast. It is a semi-autobiographical story about living with undiagnosed mental illness. Once I finished the script, I realized that it was never going to be made unless I did it myself. So that's what I did. I saved up a modest budget of $10,000, employed the help of some amazing friends and local filmmakers, and in the summer of 2018 spent two weeks in the blaring heat shooting the project. Due to personal and financial issues, as well as the fact that the pandemic has stalled out the film festival scene, the project is currently stuck in the editing phase at about 95% completion. Someday soon I hope to save enough money to finance the rest of that 5% and release Cigarettes For Breakfast out into the world.

3. What projects are you working on now?

A memoir about the time that I lived in an illegal child actor group home in Los Angeles in the mid-2000s. It's a mix of insights about the nefarious nature of the child acting world, as well as (I hope) a more universal exploration into how childhood trauma can lead to you doing some pretty messed up things as a dysfunctional adult. I don't have any expectations that the book will go anywhere, but writing it has been a fun and therapeutic exercise. And I've discovered that my best work comes when I write without expectations or concern for anything other than my own desire to tell a story that I feel is worth telling. I still consider myself a screenwriter first and foremost, but right now I'm having more fun writing a book that no one will ever read instead of yet another screenplay that no one will ever read.

4. What character (from any project) was most fun to write?

My latest script is a television pilot called Florida Man. It's about a disheveled locksmith in Florida that becomes a fugitive after accidentally shooting a millionaire in the chest with a potato cannon. The story makes the news, and a lieutenant in a biker gang makes it her mission to recruit him into their fold. The goal was to squeeze the essence of the notorious "Florida Man" meme into a single person and environment. It was a lot of fun to write.

5. What character (from any project) is most relatable to you?

Cigarettes For Breakfast and Mixed Episodes both have protagonists that are heavily inspired by my own experiences with bipolar disorder. The former being the depression side of things, and the latter being much more manic. It took a very long time for me to get diagnosed and find the right medication. I was much more unstable before that happened. I have since stopped relying as heavily on the "crutch" of writing characters inspired by myself, but those first two projects taught me a lot about finding truth within fiction, as well as how important it is to be unyielding and shameless when it comes to discussing heavily stigmatized topics like mental illness.

6. What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a writer?

My own mental illnesses. The seemingly unconquerable barrier to entry surrounding the industry. The energy needed to seriously write while working full-time and attempting to have a love life and friends at the same time. Those are the big three, but the daunting nature of those challenges are lesser than my passion and love for telling stories. I'm not concerned by the challenges so long as I enjoy writing, which I always will.

Find Kyle on Instagram and Twitter.