Each of these interviews is so unique. I’m thoroughly enjoying what you have all sent in so far.
After sending my list of questions to John Blanchette, he replied in a narrative form. I liked his summary so well, you can guess what the questions were, as you read his profile. What an exciting life it has been. It seems John has experienced many careers and turns in the road, like I have. Enjoy his journey.
After receiving my degree in English literature from Boston College and graduate work at Harvard University, I worked for a year as a junior editor at Harvard University press before leaving for Trinity College and University College, Dublin to do a degree in Anglo-Irish Studies. I had no idea what I wanted to do professionally, but knew that I loved literature, travel and the college environment.
I returned to Boston after two years in Europe and at 24 left the cold of New England for the damp cold of San Francisco, where I worked at the Sierra Club Bulletin for three years.
Missing the stimulus of the academic life, I returned to college and got my degree in College Administration at Indiana University, where I began working in the Student Activities office. I was bitten by the entertainment bug; booking films, bands, artists, speakers, etc. and decided to move to Los Angeles and get into the entertainment business.
I began working as an entertainment publicist and over 27 years I have represented and worked with many of the best-known celebrities in the world, including Bob Hope, Eva and Zsa Zsa Gabor (27 years, longer than 7 husbands), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jane Fonda, Debbie Reynolds, James Earl Jones, Shirley MacLaine, David Hasselhoff, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, Valerie Harper, Michael Jackson, Hugh Hefner, Josh Hartnett, Doris Roberts, Ned Beatty, etc.
Film promotions include “Il Postino,” “Halloween H2O,” “Shine,” “L.A. Confidential,” “The Flintstones,” “A Woman’s Story,” “Telling You,” etc. I’ve worked in publicity and promotions offices for major film production companies and at several Los Angeles television stations.
I opened my own Public Relations office after gaining experience and making media contacts who would pick up the phone when I called. You must develop relationships with the media, take them to lunch and become friends as much as possible. Approach them with stories that are newsworthy and colorful. They must learn to trust you’re veracity, respect your judgement and enjoy your personality if you want to get consistent placement in the media.
One of my clients was a chef on PBS and I approached the editor of Copley News Service with a weekly column to match his show. After about a year she called one day and told me that she liked my writing and asked if I did any photography. When I told her it was one of my hobbies and sent her some of my work, she asked If I would like to go to Hamburg, Germany to do a travel piece for the syndicate (400 newspapers). One of her writers had retired and she was looking for a replacement.
I hadn’t been in Europe since my student days and decided to hire another publicist to cover for me and left on the media junket the next week.
I stayed up all night in Hamburg’s famous red light zone and wrote about it. My editor loved it and said anytime I wanted to do a story for the syndicate she would take it. That launched a second career as a travel writer. I have since written hundreds of articles, traveled the world and submitted stories to a number of publications. I currently write for Creators Syndicate, have a monthly column in “Savor This,” the magazine of the American Institute of Wine & Food and put my old stories on Examiner.com.
Recently I have begun producing films and TV series using my entertainment contacts. Some projects include the bio-pic of Zsa Zsa Gabor, the PBS series “Standup Gourmet,” hosted by four-time EMMY award nominated social humorist Will Durst, “The Badge” for SPIKE-TV, an inside look at the San Francisco Police Department, and the pet series “It’s A Dog’s World with Michael Wombacher” for PBS.
I still have no idea where my career is headed and it may not be important. I love what I do, and do things that interest me, no matter where they may take me.
Santa Monica, CA
For any of you who would like to be interviewed, please request a list of questions. Either author/writer, writer/blogger, publisher, or publicist. For bloggers, I’m keeping the topic to food, wine or travel for now. Send to MDHill@noralyn.com.
When I’m out of the office, it will take me a while to respond.
International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association
Books By Hills Success With Writing Where & What in the World
Member: Society of Professional Journalists
Finalist in the Writing and Publishing category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, “$uccess, Your Path to a Successful Book,”