"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

KEN ATCHITY: Never Give Up

What are the ingredients of a New York Times Best Seller? Ken Atchity has the answers and they are not what you expect. He is a movie producer, author of over 20 nonfiction books and novels. He has spent his lifetime helping writers get started and improve their careers. Writing was in his blood from the beginning. ‘I never understood writers’ block because I never had it,” he says.

What is the right mindset for being successful as a self-published writer?

It’s about what Winston Churchill said: “Never give, never give, never give up!” Don’t doubt yourself, keep working and learning more about your craft.

You wrote over 20 non-fiction books and novels. Are you still learning?

Yes, I am. I am always learning. I love writing because it’s a way of focusing your learning. I write the book first, then I do the research and spend years revising the book.

Some writers confessed that they don’t read books when they work on something new…

While you write your first draft, there is no need for you to read something else.The time to start reading other things is after you’ve finished it and improved it. You can always study yourself to death and never finish the first draft. And that’s the danger of it, or being influenced by other voices. It is much better to get your voice clear in the first draft and then give yourself a limited amount of time to do further research to make sure things are accurate. You would be surprised how often your imagination gets things pretty much right.

What do you appreciate most in a book?

I love books that take you to another world and keep you there the whole time. A storyteller who knows his craft will do this by not making a single mistake. A mistake is something that takes you suddenly out of that world.

You helped several authors to make the New York Times Best Sellers list. What are the ingredients of a bestseller?

That list is a victim of the changing times we are living now. In today’s world, a person needs to be famous or write about someone who is. The most recent three NY Times Best Sellers were about John Kennedy. But this list is not the only judge. Selling books on the Internet is a direct and immediate way to see if you could find an audience for your book.

Read more

Write Short Stories!

Need a stronger plot or sharper dialogue for your novel?

Award-winning author Dennis Palumbo suggests writing short stories.

Learn how they can improve your writing and build your portfolio by registering for our Oct. 14 event at

Vince DiPersio: Original Sins on Hey Humans with Susan Ruth


Vince DiPersio is a documentarian. His award-winning work in film and t.v. as an audio-visual storyteller has covered decades of events and humans, including; "The Kennedy Detail," “The Last Days of Kennedy and King,” “The Big Question,” “People of Earth,” “Hate. com,” “Who Killed Tupac,” and most recently, in partnership with Kim Kardashian West, “The Justice Project,” among others.

Listen here:

Panic Attack - Virtual Launch with Dennis Palumbo at Mystery Lovers Bookshop!

 Please join the virtual book launch of Panic Attack with Dennis Palumbo!

Psychologist Daniel Rinaldi is no stranger to trauma. A survivor of not one, but two attempts on his life by a deranged killer, the therapist also counsels trauma patients in his private practice, and contracts with the Pittsburgh Police to help victims of violent crime cope with their experience. When a sports mascot is gunned down mid-field by a sniper at a college football game he attends, Rinaldi becomes an accidental yet integral part of the investigation. To begin with, the victim in the costume is not the person who was supposed to be wearing it.

When the actual "Teasdale Tiger" hears the news, he suffers a crippling panic attack and calls on Rinaldi to talk him through it. From there, Rinaldi seems to be in all the wrong places at all the wrong times, as the sniper continues his killing spree. Meeting with resistance from members of the Pittsburgh Police force and taking dangerous risks in pursuit of the killer, Rinaldi puts his career and his life in harm's way as he races to find a connection between the victims before the shooter strikes again.


About the author:

Dennis Palumbo, M.A., MFT is a writer and licensed psychotherapist in private practice, specializing in creative issues. His acclaimed series of mystery thrillers–Mirror Image, Fever Dream, Night Terrors, Phantom Limb, Head Wounds  and the new Panic Attack (Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press) features psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi. He’s also the author of Writing From the Inside Out (John Wiley), as well as a collection of mystery short stories, From Crime to Crime (Tallfellow Press).

Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter, Palumbo’s credits include the feature film My Favorite Year, for which he was nominated for a WGA Award for Best Screenplay. He was also a staff writer for the ABC-TV series Welcome Back, Kotter, and has written numerous series episodes and pilots.


Event date: 
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
514 Allegheny River Boulevard
OakmontPA 15139-1617
Panic Attack Cover Image
ISBN: 9781464213458
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Sourcebooks - September 1st, 2021

Favorite Quotes

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

— Lucius Annaeus Seneca

via Atchity, Kenneth. Write: Quotes

Sisters In Crime: Grand Canyon Writers Feature Dennis Palumbo!

Dennis Palumbo – Member Spotlight

Meet Dennis Palumbo. Bestselling author, Dennis Palumbo, credits a childhood gift with the inspiration behind his award-winning, Daniel Rinaldi thriller series. “When I was ten and home from school with the mumps, my father gave me a beautiful, hardcover, illustrated edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” he explained. “I’ve been faithful to that delightful marriage of storytelling and the mystery genre ever since.”

The ten-year-old soon forgot the mumps, but not the fascination ignited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s crafty sleuth. After his college graduation, Dennis became a scriptwriter for the groundbreaking, Emmy-nominated, ratings-giant, Welcome Back, Kotter. He was also tapped to write scripts for numerous other television productions.

He wrote the original story of, then co-authored the screenplay for, My Favorite Year, a box-office hit that earned legendary leading man, Peter O’Toole, an Academy Award nomination, and garnered Dennis a nomination for Best Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America. Yet, throughout his Hollywood career, he maintained his youthful wish to write mysteries.

Dennis’s decision to leave the silver screen behind and begin his career as a licensed psychotherapist—specializing in creative issues—led him to write the cutting edge, critically-acclaimed, Writing from the Inside Out: Transforming Your Psychological Blocks to Release the Writer Within. The bestselling, non-fiction tome is highly praised by authors, screenwriters and artists as “inspirational”, “practical”, “motivating” and “a must have for all writers”. The book is currently used to teach classes in more than 200 universities world-wide. Writers and other creative professionals in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia credit it as life-changing.

The Hollywood Reporter lauded Writing from the Inside Out as “… An eminently readable book that deftly identifies stumbling blocks and how to overcome them…(it) is more than a little food for thought. It’s the promise of an entire spiritual banquet for emotionally debilitated creative writers.”

Numerous other writing projects followed. Then, the roads of Dennis’s childhood dream and his career as a licensed psychotherapist intersected when he began writing his internationally lauded Rinaldi thrillers.

“All of my novels feature psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi,” he said. “As a consultant to the Pittsburgh Police, he treats victims of violent crime—those who may have survived the kidnapping, home invasion or sexual assault but are still traumatized by the experience.”

Each book in his riveting, bestselling series, including Fever Dream, Night Terrors, Phantom Limb and Mirror Image, has earned rave reviews and more Rinaldi fans. The fifth Daniel Rinaldi novel, Head Wounds, was named a “Best Thriller of 2020” by Suspense MagazinePublishers Weekly stated, “(The Daniel Rinaldi novels) are riveting.” Oscar-winning writer and producer (Crash and Million Dollar Baby), Bobby Moresco said, “Rich, complex thrillers…with surprising twists and characters that leap off the page.”

Dennis’s column, “The Writer’s Life,” appeared monthly for six years in Written By, the magazine of the Writers Guild of America. He’s also done commentary for NPR’s All Things Considered. Currently he writes the “Hollywood on the Couch” column for the Psychology Today website, and provides articles and reviews for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Lancet, and others.

His work helping writers has been profiled in The New York Times, Premiere Magazine, Fade In, Angeleno, GQ, The Los Angeles Times and other publications, as well as on NPR and CNN. He’s also appeared numerous times on Between the Lines, the PBS author interview show.

A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Pepperdine University, he served on the faculty of UCLA Extension, where he was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Dennis conducts workshops throughout the country and overseas, at both clinical symposia and writing conferences—often to packed rooms—receiving rave reviews.

His short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Strand, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, critically-acclaimed anthologies, his own collection of short mysteries, From Crime to Crime (Tallfellow Press) and elsewhere.

Dennis’s sixth Daniel Rinaldi thriller, Panic Attack (Sourcebooks/Poison Pen Press) is scheduled to debut in September of this year. His first novel, City Wars (Bantam Books) is currently in development as a feature film.

The long ago hopes of a ten-year-old boy, to one day write mysteries, became reality and Dennis’s pleasure in achieving that goal is evident. Now entering his 30th year in private practice as a therapist, he recently reflected on this, noting, “…the past decade has been highlighted by my opportunity to fulfill that ambition with my Daniel Rinaldi novels. Something about the symmetry of that journey surprises and gratifies me to this day.”

To learn more about Dennis go to


On iTunes and Apple TV: Joe Somebody NOW PLAYING!


Joe Somebody

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    •  Common Sense Age10+
    • HD
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Everybody wants to be somebody and Joe Scheffer (Tim Allen) is no exception. But Joe feels like he's a nobody. A talented video specialist at a Minneapolis pharmaceutical company, he regularly has been passed over for a long-promised promotion. And Joe is faring no better in his personal life, as he still pines for ex-wife Callie (Kelly Lynch). But when Joe's parking space is snatched up by a bullying co-worker who then humiliates him in front of his daughter, Joe decides it's time to make a change. A complete makeover brings him newfound success, a striking new look and a quick climb up the corporate ladder. But will Joe's friends and family be able to love the new Joe as much as they loved the old one?

    • Rent USD 3.99
    •  Buy USD 9.99

Kenneth Atchity's Memoir My Obit: Daddy Holding Me Receives Honorable Mention’ in the Hollywood Book Festival

At the prompting of a marketing friend, I was advised to title this book, My Intensely Madcap, Lebanese/Cajun, Jesuit-Schizoid, Terminally Narcissistic, Food-Focused, East Coast/West Coast, Georgetown/Yale, Career-Changing, Cross-Dressing, Runaway Catholic Italophile, Paradoxically Dramatic, Linguistically Neurotic, Hollywood Academic, ADD-Overcompensating, Niche-Abhorring, Jocoserious Obit. But when my designer pointed out that title wouldn’t fit on the spine, much less on any public display list, I changed my mind. Again! The story of my life.

Which this is at least the first volume of. I hope it makes you laugh, spares you some of my grief, and leads you to insist on telling your story to anyone who will listen.”

In Memoriam Ed Asner

If you ran into Ed in his last four years wearing a bright purple polo shirt, chances are it was mine. He almost took it right off me at the first of our several lunches on Ventura Boulevard. I resisted, but went to the internet and ordered three identical ones for him. He called me to say thanks and to invite me to the next lunch. We had in common that we were from Kansas City, that we were both liberals (though he went closer to the wall on that score than I did, and that we both admired the longevity of his irascible humor. It was a pleasure getting to know him personally and I’m sorry to see him go before we could get him into one of our films. Ed, you rocked!

Just hit 1.1 Million views! Thank you.


In this Film Courage video, Dr. Ken Atchity (Author, Publisher, Producer), shares how his own pursuit of living his dreams spawned a book on the subject and what blocks most people's road to success. MORE VIDEOS WITH DR. KEN ATCHITY

BUY THE BOOK - HOW TO QUIT YOUR DAY JOB AND LIVE OUT YOUR DREAMS: Do What You Love for Money - BUY THE BOOK - SELL YOUR STORY TO HOLLYWOOD: Writer’s Pocket Guide To The Business Of Show Business - BUY THE BOOK - WRITING TREATMENTS THAT SELL: How To Create And Market Your Story Ideas To The Motion Picture and TV Industry -

Steven Spielberg On Uncertainty... Listen to the Whisper of Your Dreams

Dreams always come from behind you, not right between your eyes. But when you have a dream, it doesn’t often come at you screaming in your face “this is who you are, this is what you must be for the rest of your life”. Sometimes the dream almost whispers. 

And I’ve always said to my kids: the hardest thing to listen to – your instinct, your human personal intuition – always whispers, it never shouts. Very hard to hear. See, you have to, every day of your life, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear; it very rarely shouts. 

And if you can listen to the whisper, and if it tickles your heart, and it’s something you think you wanna do for the rest of your life, then that is going to be what you do for the rest of your life, and we will benefit from everything you do.

~ Steven Spielberg

New From Story Merchant Books: Piece of Cake: My Wild Ride from Banking to Baking by Melissa Bunnen Jernigan

 We take the cake. Anywhere.

“Let’s bake and deliver cakes!” That was their big, moneymaking idea, though neither Melissa nor Helen, two fresh-faced twenty-somethings, had ever baked a cake. Next up, they picked the location—Melissa’s rinky-dink condo kitchen. Then, they swiped three recipes from family and friends, put $250 into the company kitty, and made their first investment: 250 plastic cake knives with Piece of Cake stamped on them.

That was 1986.

A decade later, POC, The Ward, World Headquarters, or the Pokey—whichever moniker you prefer—was pulling in seven figures annually. Over three decades later, they have locations all over Atlanta, including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

I was a liberal-arts major. You won’t find my business philosophy being taught at Harvard Business School,, or any institution in between. But you will find it here.

This is a story of starting a company on pocket change, of working twenty-hour days with no days off in sight, of losing my home to sacks of sugar and flour and ovens galore. It’s a story about cakes cooling atop lampshades, about nervous breakdowns, wandering pot dealers, babies, puppies, Cakers and bakers. It’s a story about the original housewives of Atlanta (they were working for me!) and the homeless, too; it’s about a car called The Bomb, and a location called Pamland. Piece of Cake is a place where autonomy ruled and that was the only rule.

From Corporate America to cake batter, Piece of Cake: My Recipe for Success is a career manual for folks who know little about business, a cookbook for those who’d never thought about baking, and a what-are-you-waiting-for guide to pursuing your dreams.

Seriously, what are you waiting for?

This is the story of doing it my way

In Memoriam Chris Kühne


Chris Kühne


What can you say about a man who died too young? He was ruggedly handsome, brilliantly analytical, smoothly diplomatic with clients, immensely talented as a screenwriter, relentless on the tennis court, and patiently aggressive as a story merchant carrying stories to buyers and broadcasters. He was ambitious and determined, sensitive and humanly vulnerable. His future was bright and glorious. He leaves behind grieving family and friends and grateful associates. He is a loss to his native and adopted countries. May he find his peace in that undiscovered country. He will be missed!

Born and raised in Mexico City, Chris turned to film and writing following a near-death experience. He moved to Los Angeles in 2013 to study film and screenwriting at the New York Film Academy, as well as Business and Management of the Entertainment and Film and TV Development at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2015, he co-wrote the Goya-nominated feature film Yerma: Barren (Spain/UK), and served as a script consultant on the Spanish feature film El Violín de Piedraboth directed by renowned Spanish director Emilio Ruiz Barrachina.


 Head Wounds book review

HEAD WOUNDS is the most recent entry in the action-filled Dr. Daniel Rinaldi thriller series by Dennis Palumbo. Dr. Rinaldi is a Pittsburgh-based psychologist and police consultant with a few rough edges and a remorseless, deranged enemy.

The combination is an absolute page-turner.


Dan Rinaldi lost his wife Barbara 12 years ago in an unsolved mugging gone bad. As he reads a recently obtained dossier on the crime, a bullet smashes his living room window.

Outside, a gun-toting neighbor is angry and drunk. When the police arrive, the wife admits to having told her husband in a fit of pique that she’s having an affair with Dan.

She’s found dead not long after.

Other seemingly random incidents touch Dan’s life. In a shocking twist, Barbara’s killer is responsible.


Brilliant but unstable, Sebastian Maddox was obsessed with Barbara in college. Just released from prison for an unrelated crime, he wants to punish Dan for “stealing” Barbara by torturing Dan’s nearest and dearest before finally killing Dan in Hannibal Lector-worthy fashion.

A terrifying villain with an easily understood motive who had more than a decade to grow progressively more delusional and macabre, Maddox taps into Dan’s phone, laptop, and car GPS. Remote access to Dan’s digital devices gives Maddox personal details about his victims, which he puts to cunning and horrific use.

The two men play a heart-pounding scavenger hunt across Pittsburgh. Maddox meters out clues as to who the next victim will be and Dan races against time to try and save them. Warned by Maddox that more innocents will die if the police are involved, Dan is aided only by a female FBI agent (and soon-to-be love interest) and a retired FBI profiler. On the run from Maddox’s surveillance and exhausted from the endless tension, the trio nonetheless manage to dig up pivotal background material on the killer.

The entire book is written from Dan’s point of view and we’re in this with him every step of the way. We like his grit and the fact that he’s not some academic lightweight you can knock over with a feather. A former boxer with a bad temper and mean right hook, Rinaldi is a true son of Pittsburgh. A medical professional but not too polished, not too far from his blue collar roots.


The last half of the book is a speeding train. The non-stop pace, brash characters, and roller coaster events have a cinematic quality. I was reminded of the Lethal Weapon movies as well as SpeedThe Silence of the Lambs and Harrison Ford’s The Fugitive.

It’s no surprise, then, to find out that author Dennis Palumbo is not only a practicing psychotherapist, but also a former screenwriter. His credits include the feature film My Favorite Year, which starred Peter O’Toole and has been one of my Top 10 favorite movies since forever.

The next Dr. Daniel Rinaldi book, PANIC ATTACK, is out next month.

Your heartrate will have slowed by then.

Highly recommended.

Find HEAD WOUNDS on Amazon.

R.I.P. Christopher Kühne

This is an interview Chris did with VoyageLA in March.

Hi Christopher, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?

Born and raised in Mexico City, I grew a strong interest in ancient texts, History, and the classics early on. At 18 years old, I adopted fitness training as a discipline, which I have kept ever since. I have successfully dabbled in several passions throughout my life (from being a professional magician to fitness coach to video editor), but deep inside I always knew I was born to become a storyteller. To tell you how I grew aware of my call, I’ll tell you a true story. In 2009, I was taken on a group tour to a rural community in Mexico to mentor children on writing over the course of two weeks. I was assigned to mentor a shy little girl wearing cotton gloves despite the 92-degree weather who was bullied by other kids. After catching a glimpse of a notable mole on the back of one of her hands before she hastily put the glove back on, I understood why. Despite futile attempts at trying to make the girl speak to begin the mentorship, I paused and set the agents of the power of story in motion. Inspired by the mythology of Eros or Cupid, I came up with a story of the time Eros felt sad after his victims, whom he would strike with pointy arrows infused with love, complained of the pain these caused. So people began disliking falling in love. Mocked by everyone and feeling purposeless, Eros quit his job and retired to a remote forest, and the world became loveless. But as Eros endlessly sobbed, he felt the warm touch of a hand on his back. He turned and saw the most beautiful girl he had ever seen: so beautiful, he wished he could be mortal. After Eros explained to her the reason of his calamity, the girl smiled, reached for his face, and gently wiped his tears off. “Love should always feel like that.” The little girl began. “Gentle.”

In an instant, Eros took her hand and kissed it, causing a blinding source of light to sprout from the back of the girl’s hand. “Little girl,” Eros began, “From now on, everything you touch will be filled with the power of love. Use your power wisely!” Once the bright light on the back of the girl’s hand faded, she glanced down and saw a heart-shaped mark on it. The End. When I had finished telling the story, the girl’s eyes were wide with astonishment. She took her right-hand glove off (secretly-not-so-secretly, like children do) and stared at the mole on the back of her hand, which was shaped like a heart. Two weeks after the mentorship ended, I learned from one of the community’s leaders that the girl wasn’t wearing gloves anymore. She was now one of the most outgoing and social kids in the community, and the kids who once laughed at her were now her friends. They invited her to play with them and even asked her to teach them how to write stories. She excelled at it. So it was that the transcendental power of storytelling worked its magic once more, changing two lives forever and igniting the spark of what was to become my path as a storyteller. A year later, in 2010, I went on a family summer trip to Los Angeles, where I visited the backlot at Universal Studios, home to iconic films. As our studio tour tram drove by a real ongoing production, something deep inside me clicked and encouraged me to imagine a life working there, in the middle of the entertainment industry. In 2012, shortly after having earned my BA in Communications and Mass Media, I suffered an accident while wakeboarding in Mexico, which left me out of commission for about four months. This was the catalyst that forced me to turn my life 180º and set on my hero’s journey. I knew since an early age that my life wasn’t in Mexico, so I took this as a wake up call to pursue my aspirations.

Three months later, in January 2013, I was shooting a project at the Universal Studios backlot: I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a degree in filmmaking and screenwriting at the New York Film Academy. When I caught sight of a studio tour tram full of people touring the backlot, I saw myself from three years before on it, now looking at me actually shooting a project there, where legendary films have been shot. I was looking at myself from the other side. It was a very strange and incredible experience, almost like peering at oneself from the past and future simultaneously. When the epiphany concluded and I came back to the present, I knew the feeling I had back in 2010 was now manifesting in front of my eyes, coming to a full circle. In 2016, shortly after graduating from NYFA, I had the opportunity to work on my first major project, serving as a story consultant on acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Emilio Ruiz Barrachina’s award-winning film, El Violín de Piedra (The Stone Violin). In the spring, I began working with Hollywood producer and literary manager Ken Atchity (Joe Somebody, The Kennedy Detail, The Meg) on story and film development, establishing a professional relationship that continues to grow to this day. Shortly after that, I teamed up with Mr. Barrachina once more, this time coming onboard as a co-writer on his romance drama feature film Yerma: Barren, a modern adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca´s play Yerma, set in 21st century London.

In 2017, I divided my time and enrolled at UCLA to pursue two certificates: Film and TV Development and Business and Management of Entertainment, graduating in 2019. Today, my efforts to spread and share the power of story continue with Storyan, my psychoanalytical story development company, which focuses on helping writers find the story behind their stories to improve their craft and keep transforming the world through authentic storytelling. Storyan is a development company which offers writers specialized story development services with a psychoanalytical approach. Digging deeper and beyond screenwriting, I works with writers to shed light on the foundations behind their stories: from logic and psychology to marketability, content, and form. While academia primarily teaches writers how to write screenplays, Storyan helps them understand how to compose authentic stories to improve their craft and write better stories (and scripts) that resonate on both commercial and artistic levels. I’m also currently working as an Associate Manager on a project by Steve Alten (best-selling author of The Meg, on which the 2018 Warner Bros. blockbuster film is based) and serving as a co-executive producer on an upcoming animated series with Kevin Smith attached.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

The biggest challenge has been being an immigrant. You first manage to come here, and then you realize you’re sort of an outcast competing not only against people born here but also against other outsiders like you. There’s so much stuff going on and so many people doing the same thing, it’s easy to disappear within the pile. But once you discover your voice and the elements that make you stand out from the rest, it only takes believing, patience, and perseverance. Discover your personal mark or brand before you go out there. You have it deep within you.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?

I’m a recognized screenwriter working part-time as an associate manager and story consultant in the industry. My writing is characterized by a fusion of high concept and deep storytelling aimed at resonating with audiences of all backgrounds and beliefs through sound entertainment. Most high concept films nowadays rely solely on content to reach audiences; Form has been mostly relegated to projects dealing with social trends and issues — a good thing, given that it helps delivering the message to the audience efficiently. But we’re also witnessing a split of the craft into factory-made, cookie-cutter products. Content makes money, but content alone fails to deliver a good story. Enter Form. You have to think of Content as the King and of Form as the Queen, and the kingdom of story can’t thrive without both of them. I’m religious about this philosophy every time I write and mentor. But knowing this alone is not enough to understand storytelling (and writing). Reading and understanding the very foundations of storytelling, spanning from the beginning of mankind, has shaped most of my writing and perspective, and studying classic film has given me the cinematic vision to apply my views, ideas, and beliefs to my craft. You’ve got to read the classics, and you’ve got to watch classic cinema. You’ve got to know works like Aristotle’s Poetics by heart. You don’t build a strong house without building strong foundations first, no matter what you build on top of it. It applies to story, it applies to everything.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?

Just like your outer world in a dream reflects your inner world (i.e., the elements in your unconscious), so the outer world of the character reflects his or her inner world in the dream, which makes up the story. And this also applies to real life. Here’s why. The human psyche has been, is, and will always be the same, everywhere, independently from location, culture, race, era, laws, customs, etc. It’s universal and eternal. Therefore the same mental symbols will always be present. They only change in appearance but preserve the same function. There’s a magnificent quote by Schopenhauer that illustrates this meaning perfectly when he said, “The Universe is a dream dreamed by a single dreamer where all the dream characters dream too.” Thus we see that life is a story, and a story is life; two manifestations of the same creating power, mirroring and complementing one another.

As we read in the Vedas, “Truth is one. The sages speak of it by many names,” so the universal story is one. Writers tell of it by many ways. That’s why we are all storyans, we’re all born storytellers because we are walking stories ourselves just as everything around us is a story — namely, a manifestation of the one story. But now, what distinguishes “awakened” or conscious storytellers is the act of telling the story of the unconscious, consciously. It’s about knowing, recognizing, embracing, and telling the universal symbols of the psyche while remaining conscious throughout the process. In other words, you have to be a conscious creator of the unconscious. That’s what art is. Which perfectly mirrors the deed of the true hero who comes back from the journey transformed to heal and restore the world, kingdom, tribe, society, etc. Only the hero who remains conscious through the unconscious trials and ordeals of initiation into life will attain the wisdom and knowledge to heal the world.

In practical terms, what writers need to keep in mind is that that such transformation of the character doesn’t take place at the end of the story or journey. As Karl Graf Dürckheim said, “When you are on a journey, and the end keeps getting further and further away, then you realize that the real end is the journey.” In other words, we see the transformation of the character grow and develop throughout the story journey. It is only the realization and recognition of such transformation that we see at the end of the journey, given that the character learned to apply the attained wisdom and knowledge. Many writers confuse this and make the character change only at the very end of the story. But the changes in the character take place through the trials and ordeals along the journey, just as we attain growth from the trials and ordeals of our lives. It’s the infinite pattern of death and rebirth. So, as we follow the journey into the unconscious while remaining conscious throughout, we become aware of the elements of the psyche that make us human and resonate with us universally, which are responsible for making up the story, whether you are writing about living toys, talking cars, suffragettes in Victorian England, or hyper smart computers. The story is always human and universal.