This week Write On! Online interviews Mark Ebner, an award winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. Mark’s latest, Six Degrees of Paris Hilton: Inside the Sex Tapes, Scandals, and Shakedowns of the New Hollywood, was just released. For more information about Mark, go to www.hollywoodinterrupted.com.
How did you get started as a writer?
I wanted to be a journalist since I was six years old, but I did not get started professionally until I turned 25. Spin magazine was in its infancy in 1985, and I pitched and them a story called “Dying to Make a Living” about actors and actresses making a living having their characters killed in horror films. I got 25 cents a word for that story and never looked back.
Why did you write Six Degrees of Paris Hilton: Inside the Sex Tapes, Scandals, and Shakedowns of the New Hollywood? How did the book come about?
Six Degrees was born out of a Radar magazine feature story I wrote about the home-invasion robbery/kidnapping of Girls Gone Wild impresario Joe Francis. I knew there was much more to that story, so I started digging and stumbled upon a six-year crime wave perpetrated on “young Hollywood” by a cast of criminal interlopers.
What were the greatest challenges writing in this genre/specialty?
Writing in the non-fiction crime genre is a reporting-challenge because, when a lot of your sources are either in jail or living on the fringe, you need to run down every quote and cross-check every document and piece of research. You also spend an inordinate amount of time looking over your shoulder.
What is your favorite part of the process?
There is nothing quite so exhilarating as entering maximum-security prisons, infiltrating criminal enterprises, and coming out alive—with a great story.
What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
That we were heading into a recession. I’d be selling a lot more books otherwise
Any advice for writers?
Be prepared to give up a lot of preset ideals for your muse. Some writers can actually balance marriage, family, and checking accounts with the stress and demands of their profession. I’ve been at it almost 25 years, and haven’t learned to balance anything yet.
What’s next for you?
I have a television show based on a magazine story I wrote in development for a scripted dramatic series. I’m also doing some on-camera and voice-over work for television, blogging, and trying to sell my next book in the dismal market that explains my diversification.