Today I’m delighted to welcome screenwriter and author Greg Cope White to my blog. I’m sharing an interview I recently did with him about his memoir The Pink Marine and his career as a TV sitcom writer.
Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.
I’m an old writer with a new book.
What is The Pink Marine about?
It’s my memoir about the summer I spent in United States Marine Corps boot camp with my best friend, when we were teenagers. I had no idea what the military was like – I just thought we were going to summer camp.
I see from your bio that you normally write TV sitcoms – what made you decide to branch out and write your book The Pink Marine?
The stories of teenagers being bullied. Some of the tortured chose to end their lives and I want to tell others that it does get better – that we have to stand up and resist mean people. Often peacefully and quietly; but everyone has the right to a happy life. I learned to go get mine. If the military was the place I went to find my definition of masculinity in a world I didn’t feel I fit in, then good on them for providing that. If I can become a US Marine, anyone can do anything.
As far as sitcoms go, and this is a hard shift here – the book is funny. Look at my photo and imagine me a Marine. I was a fish out of water. No matter what the storytelling format, I want my voice to come through. All the sitcom experience helps me trust that my sense of humor will balance the pathos on paper.
How did writing your book differ from writing for TV? Was it an easy transition?
To get my point across in a script, I have to paint a clear picture in a few lines. On my blog, or in my books, if I want to describe the subtle blues of the sky at different times of the day – I can fill pages on only that subject. There is so much more time in a book. TV is choppy.
Blogging helped me make the transition from writing scripts to writing the book. I wrote short stories, some related to the book, and both found my narrative voice and fell in love with the luxury of more words. That also helped me build a marketing platform.
Are you still working as a TV writer or do you hope to be a full time author?
I do both, as well as write my two blogs (EatGregEat and GoGregGo) and contribute to Huffington Post and Good Men Project Magazine. And I’m always looking for more outlets on which to publish. I also cook and host a show on Food Network’s Cooking Channel (and write that material). TV is seasonal and sporadic. I think of TV as disposable journalism, so I love the permanence of long-form storytelling that writing books offers.
Where do you get your inspiration from for TV writing and for your books?
Everything really happens. If I pause during a crazy moment, or right after, and commit to memory my emotions that the event caused — the smell, the colors, the way my heart raced when you tossed your hair and made that bird fly away – I’ll pull from that bank later. Add the dialogue of everything I wished I’d said in that moment and… scene.
I live in gratitude with open eyes. The Marine Corps (and probably my grandmother) gave me boundless energy. I do everything I can, travel as much as possible – and spend time with my friends. If you tell me a story, it may end up in a book. I need material. I believe a colorful life leads to a flavorful plate.
What is your writing routine like?
I’m writing by 6am. I have a book, three or four stories, couple of scripts and blog posts going all the time. Whichever one glows brightest at me pre-dawn gets my attention. I write till 3PM, take a break and cook, then resume writing at 8PM. Now if I stuck to that schedule 100%, I’d have thirty books written….
What has your journey to publication been like?
It was a dark and stormy night. A publisher bought the book last year, but within two months I knew he was the wrong one to bring it to market. I hated his style, his taste, and he wasn’t savvy. My agent and I tried to cancel the contract back in December but it wasn’t until I had a heart attack this January that I successfully canceled it. Done in one email.
And then the sun rose on a new day. I’m a US Marine – so I stayed on brand and handled the situation. While I recuperated, I formed my own press (AboutFace Books), contracted with Ingram to distribute, and organized the first leg of a book tour. I auditioned for Audible to record the audio book – and got the part playing…. me. I had a blast in the studio, performing the other Marines voices too. That format dropped April 5th, so now The Pink Marine is available in e-book, paperback, hardcover and audio. I’d bake it into a pie and come feed it to each reader if I could.
Lesson learned: authors have direct access to exciting platforms. (My health has recovered very well, I’m happy to report.) I’m speaking about my book and writing memoir on a panel at the YA festival YALLWEST end of April.
I have a website with tour info, past links and videos. I live in Los Angeles, so when I run into a celebrity, I ask them to make a supportive video. People are running away from me at parties now. Visit the site and find easy-to-see links to your favorite online retailers to buy the book: www.thepinkmarine.com.
Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?
Is any subject in your life that’s off limits in a story? Yes, since I write in memoir, I’d never expose someone’s secret or kill off the love interest and/or hero.
How can people connect with you on social media?
I’m @EatGregEat on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter and whatever platform gets invented next.
About the Author:
Author of The Pink Marine, blogger, television writer, world traveler, and inveterate bon vivant, Greg Cope White is a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is a bi-coastal, polo-playing, sixth-generation Texan with a voracious appetite for life. See him on this season’s Cooking Channel show, Unique Sweets.
About the Book:
When Greg Cope White’s best friend tells him he is spending his summer in Marine Corps boot camp, all Greg hears is “summer” and “camp.”
Despite dire warnings from his friend, Greg vows to join him in recruit training. He is eighteen, underweight, he’s never run a mile—and he is gay.
It’s long before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, and with no LGBT rights in place in most states, and the Marines having a very definite expulsion policy in place for gay people when it comes to military personnel, will Greg even survive?
The Pink Marine is the story—full of hilarity and heartbreak—of how a teenage boy who struggles with self-acceptance and his sexuality and doesn’t fit the traditional definition of manliness finds acceptance and self-worth in Marine Corps boot camp.