Nancee LaFayette

What inspired you to become a screenwriter, and what keeps you motivated to keep writing?

I have been fortunate to work and observe many people during my Hollywood days and before that moving around the United States with my father and crazy mother. I’ve lived in poverty and now with my husband in a wonderful house and my car, my dad would have loved a new car that didn’t break down every time he drove it. As for what keeps me going, I’m not dead yet and have a few more stories to tell.
My biography, projects and contact information is on my website,

Can you tell us about your writing process, from the initial idea to the final draft?

I have too many ideas and have to focus on one or two, then I set out to do research on the stories, example: traveling to Japan for ‘Last Stop Toyo’, riding along with police and interviewing detectives here and in Japan. Some of my stories are based on my life’s adventures. I write at least twenty to forty drafts, or more until I feel that the story flows and has surprises that the audience will like.

How do you approach creating characters, and what techniques do you use to develop them?

My characters are taken from the many people I have met, I use several different people to create one character. I study psychology and have interviewed criminals.

Can you share with us a bit about your latest project and the story behind it?

The Samurai Ghost & Ms. Jones,
In 1500s… The family is loaning out many rare historical artifacts to Metropolitan Museum. Ms. Jones is a graduate student in Japanese art and history. She is assisting her professor in cataloging the items to be shipped. The Samurai ghost is an angry hostile entity, especially towards foreigners. He was wrongly accused of betraying his family and had to commit seppuku /hara-kiri too save his family’s honor.

Valentine St. Claire Mysteries, Rising from the Deep…
Living in a self-imposed exile after the murder of her twin sister, her father’s subsequent heart failure, and the recent passing of her beloved grandfather, Rhode Island ex-police detective Valentine St. Claire has taken up residence on her grandfather’s Trumpy Yacht on Florida’s Treasure Coast. A phone call from her grandfather’s old friend Doctor McCall forces her to rejoin the living. Valentine, with the help of the Marlaina D. crew members, will track down Doctor McCall’s missing fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Madison. Valentine and her crew become entangled with a horrific discovery off the Coast of RI’s Block Island, which puts everyone in danger.
I’ve studied kung fu, akido and kendo and put martial arts in my stories when appropriate.

What do you think sets your writing apart from others in the industry, and how do you showcase your unique voice?

I’m old school, and belong to the Hollywood of the past, so my understanding of issues, relationships and everyday life is very different from today.
I showcase my voice entering different screenwriting contests and online support websites e.g. I’m happy to say I’ve won several awards and have placed well in others.
I have a website and use Facebook.

How do you balance your personal creative vision with the needs of producers, directors, and other collaborators?

You have to be a warrior and know when to fight for what you feel is best for your story. Sometimes you have to walk away, e.g. ‘Last Stop Tokyo’, I had given my word to a Japanese actor that he would play a certain part, yet when I went to China another actor wanted the same part, I said the only part open was the one I sent him, included with the script. He backed out and took four million dollars out of the project. I keep my word, no contracts had been signed. Having worked with great writers/directors like Billy Wilder, Sam Peckinpah and others I know when to collaborate and when to stand and fight. If you want something too much, they have you…

Can you talk about a particularly challenging moment you faced while working on a project and how you overcame it?

It took me over forty years to be able to write the story about, ‘Meeting Sam Director Sam Peckinpah.’ This was a very personal story, I fell in love with that man, I knew he would destroy me or I him. Sam had just finished, ‘ The Wild Bunch,’ and sent Hollywood spinning, it was a Western like no other. I’d come from a background that made me tough and I did not let anyone push me around, so Sam found me interesting and developed strong feelings for me and I for him, even though he was 20 years older than me I. We let each other go…

How do you see the role of screenwriting in the film industry evolving, and how do you see yourself fitting into that future?

How many times can they remakes of great films that underwhelm and disappoint. Mundania rules, shark stories, what’s next, half man/shark? My time is coming to end, every now and then I catch wonderful stories, TV and movies that give me hope. Hollywood needs to look at new talent in writing, directing, acting and producing.

Can you share any advice or tips for emerging screenwriters who are just starting out?

Read and keep reading great scripts both TV and movies, there are great classes online e.g. , classes with Steve Martin, David Memet, James Cameron and many award winning writers, directors, actors, and producers.

Finally, what are your long-term goals as a screenwriter, and what legacy do you hope to leave in the industry?

I’m 77 years old, I hope my example of how I conducted my personal and professional life will have meaning to future writers.
I’m sure many will think I was nuts for letting money slip through my fingers. There are many in Hollywood left who remember me with respect and fondness, that means more to me than any award.