Author Spotlight: Dale Newton
Friday February 17th, 2012

I love getting to know new people, especially people who are fascinating. Dale has been involved with film, science fiction, and been interested in radio. He's co-written multiple books on film making, has numerous book projects in the works, and seems to be constantly adding more and more projects to his diverse and vast list.
He's a genuinely nice guy and a talented writer. We are proud to present the Author Spotlight of Dale Newton, author of a story in Cifiscape Vol. II.

How did you get into writing?
Dale: I started writing creatively in my early teens. I had an uncle who lived in Japan, and my brother and I arranged for him to buy each of us one of the early portable tape recorders being made there. I began writing little scripts for us to perform on audio recordings. This later blossomed into a fascination with radio dramas of the 1930s and 1940s. I remember doing historical re-enactments on audiotape for school history projects. About that time the first "portable" video equipment started appearing, and I began writing scripts for video productions at school.

What’s your background with writing fiction?
Dale: I've been writing fictions from the very beginning, mostly in the form of radio, video, or film scripts. My bachelor's degree is in English Education, so I picked up some formal training along with exposure to lots of great literature during my coursework. I've taken a variety of writing classes since that time and have been a member of a couple of writing groups.

Where did the idea for Wardrobe Malfunction come from?
Dale: The kernel of the idea has been kicking around in my head for half-dozen years. I saw a student at my daughter's high school wearing a separate sleeve with a t-shirt, and it occurred to me that would be a good way to carry personal electronics. I later used the idea in a treatment for an instructional video that was set in the future, but sadly the project never took place. When I started thinking how the Twin Cities would be different in the future, I remembered this idea and realized we'd have very different clothing if the growth in personal electronics is any indicator. The story grew from that seed of an idea. After I wrote the story, I ran across an article about a fellow who had designed a wearable television screen as a vest. It's hard to stay ahead of the future.

I saw that you’ve co-written a bunch of books about filmmaking. Is that a particular interest of yours?
Dale: I've been making movies since I was 13 years old when I fell in love with the idea of creating a world in a movie. I've produced and worked on a number of independent movies.

Is that something that you do on the side?
Dale: Making feature-length and short movies is an avocation. Making instructional, informational, and promotional videos is a big part of my vocation.

Tell me about your film Resident Alien?
Dale: It's a feature-length science-fiction comedy romance that I wrote and produced. In the movie, a failed astrophysics student and the only tenant in the building he manages both witness a crashing UFO and are nearly incinerated by it. When a mysterious stranger, an unscrupulous UFO investigator, and a wily sheriff arrive, their lives are turned upside down. The story reveals the dangers and adventures that arise when you wish on a star -- and your dreams come true.

Do you write a lot of short stories?
Dale: At age 14, I wrote my first science-fiction short story, and then audaciously mailed it off to Ben Bova – famed author and then editor of Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact magazine – to be considered for publication. It was politely, but roundly, rejected.

Decades later – after writing a half-dozen feature-length screenplays, a passel of press releases, numerous Sunday School Christmas programs, scores of video scripts, and a pair of books on independent filmmaking – I offered my second science-fiction short story, Wardrobe Malfunction, for inclusion in Cifiscape Volume II. Apparently, the intervening years did me some good.

What else are you currently working on?
Dale: I'm editing the second draft of a book I've written on special effects for movies, and I have the outlines for a book on video production and a book on personal motivation sitting in my office and nagging me to get started on them.

Any more short stories coming out?
Dale: I have some more in mind, but haven't put pencil to paper yet.

Are you working on any full-length novels?
Dale: I have not yet done a full-length novel. I'd like to do more short stories as training ground before I tackle a novel. Besides, I'm busy revising a stage play for teenagers that I wrote with my younger daughter. I'm also working on a stage musical with my older daughter, Jen Newton, who is a music composer.

Any other screenplays
Dale: There is an animated feature-length script that is awaiting a rewrite, and I have a short puppetry film I'd like to find time to produce. I think that's plenty of projects for now.

Do you listen to music when writing or editing, and if so what do you listen to?
Dale: The majority of my creative writing is done while I'm traveling on mass transit, so the background soundtrack for my work is usually the rattles and rumbles of a bus. I could bring along portable music, but the white noise of Metro Transit is enough for me to concentrate. However, when I am typing at the computer, I use a play list of music that stimulates my mind. It's quite eclectic, everything from Handel's Water Music to Regina Spektor, with Yma Sumac, Queen, Django Reinhardt, Bach, Avril Lavigne, Apollo 100, African djembe music, the Aquabats, Jen Newton, Gustave Holst, the Veronicas, and songs from Broadway musicals to spice things up between. My new favorites are the bands Vampire Weekend and Fun.

Does it change depending on whether you’re writing or editing?
Dale: I generally use the same music for both. I find that energetic music helps me retreat into my head so I can visualize and focus on my work. When I'm doing creative writing, I just write or type as fast as I can to keep up with the movie that's playing in my head. Music helps me block out distractions and gives a forward push to the work. When I'm doing more mundane technical writing, the music helps keep me motivated and working at a good pace. It's like a treat I get to have as long as I work.

Is it based on mood?
Dale: If I want strong emotional content to a scene, I'll sometimes select a CD or a song from my play list that fits the mood of it. It helps conjure up ideas in the desired mood.

Thank you for visiting for another edition of Author Spotlight. We'll be doing this every week. Keep coming back to read them all. Also, Cifiscape Vol. II will be out in mid-March, so look for more news as it gets closer and closer to being finished.