Thursday, 4 April 2013


I often get asked who or what was my inspiration to become a writer. And I always say that Winona Ryder was my biggest inspiration. She certainly inspired me to write biography, simply because I was desperate to write about her, which is always the best reason to write. It came about, because I had at that time, watched more of her films than any other actress, and like anyone who had seen her films, I thought she was a brilliant actress. There is something very silent movie about her acting, a quality I really adore. It’s not a style in the sense of a pose or put-on, but something very organic and completely unique to her. I was also fascinated by the fragile energy that follows her through all her films, regardless of genre, so I was really excited to be able to get to write about her, and share my name on a book cover with hers.

I first came up with the idea to write a book about her on National Cinema Day in June 1996, when cinemas across the UK showed selected films all day long, which resulted in over one million people attending cinemas. Organised by the film industry to celebrate a century of cinema, every cinema charged only £1 all day. And there were over 150 films to choose from. As well as the current releases there were 27 previewing films and classics ranging from Casablanca to the Sound of Music and one of the previewing films was Winona's latest, How To Make An American Quilt, so with my daughter, we went to see it, and when we left the cinema, I said: "I have to write a book about her!"    

And once I started, I loved every minute of it. Being able to get up each morning and write about her was the best part about it, I literally couldn’t wait to get started each day. What was strange is how I totally immersed myself in her life, and so when I finally finished it, and delivered the manuscript to the publisher, it was like the ending of a relationship. I do remember feeling quite lost about it and having what I call post-book depression. For me, it is still my favourite book of all the ones I have written, and that was largely down to who Winona Ryder was and me feeling passionate about her and her films, and that is what all writing should be, about following your passion, and for me that was Winona. 

I am also often bombarded with questions like when did I last interview her, what's she like, how was it to interview her, and is she cool? Truth is I have never interviewed her, met with her or even spoken to her, although I have come close three times. The first missed opportunity was when I had just started writing my biography of her and was due to do a telephone interview with her about American Quilt, but then at the last minute, she pulled out from all her scheduled interviews. The second time that I came close, was some years later, in 2004, while I was in West Hollywood and missed Winona at Book Soup by literally five minutes. I had gone up to the store after I had finished filming an interview on Demi Moore for The E! True Hollywood Story, and all the guys at the store knew me, knew who I was, and as soon as I got there, they told me, I had just missed her. She had been in the store five minutes before buying some magazines and books! And the most recent was at last year's London premiere of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Although she was scheduled to attend the premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square, she had to cancel out at the last minute, due to a filming schedule conflict. I was on the red carpet for about an hour waiting for her to arrive, before the film started, and towards the end of that hour, I realised she wasn’t going to show, but if she had, it would have been pretty easy to have spoken with her, but maybe it's not meant to be. They do say, don’t they, that it’s never a good idea to meet our heroes!

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