Monette L. Bebow-Reinhard
102 Brown Quail Court #7
Madison WI 53713
(920) 639-5842 : [email protected]
Bebow-Reinhard felt so comfortable researching the mysterious dream she had, taking her into the world of Greek legend, that she went back to school, earning her BA in 2000 and her MA in 2006 in history. During those degrees she penned her two Bonanza novels, using lots of real history; Felling of the Sons has twice been used as required college reading. She has finished a major nonfiction book, and has also written movie scripts and sold articles and short fiction as well. She is also compiling a master database of all pre-contact copper artifacts found in the Americas. Everything she writes is both historical and cultural.
Monette Bebow-Reinhard spent years, while raising children, satisfying her artistic bent by acting, directing and writing plays. She began writing movie scripts when in 1992 she gained access to the world of Bonanza through contact with its producer/creator, David Dortort. After three years of convincing him she could write Bonanza material, she became the only authorized Bonanza writer.
She studied acting for a year at college and dropped out for the family life, returning to college in 1994 after a near miss with a publisher on a unique vampire novel series, now after a variety of versions is newly released. The BA earned in 2000 didn’t give her good enough research skills to finish the book on her grandfather’s great-uncle’s 20 years in the army in the 1800s, and she returned to school to earn an MA in history in 2006. She’s marketing that completed nonfiction, Civil War and Bloody Peace: following orders, and is also marketing a movie script derived from this material on what really led to the Little Bighorn.
Her biggest passion is the culture, environment and traveling for research. She drives a 2006 Honda Insight, and envisions with all her writing to pass on the passion for the environment, for cultural integrity, and for peaceful living. Her daughter CarrieLynn is assistant professor at Dominican University in Chicago, sons Adam and Bennett both work for Microsoft in Seattle, and one has given her two grandchildren.
Bebow-Reinhard also recently signed with All
Things That Matter Press (ATTMP) on her short story collection, Grimms American Macabre, a collection of
short stories under the pen name Lizbeth Grimm. It’s been a dream of hers since
learning her grandmother was a Grimm (photo of her homestead below). She has another historical novel, Saving Boone: Legend of a Half-Breed, being
marketed and will be presenting on the topic of “politically correct in history”
at the August conference of Historical Writers of America in Virginia. She also presents on her copper artifact
master database (CAMD) that she has been compiling—now at over 56,000 pieces.
I can’t remember ever not wanting to write. When I found out my Gramma was a Grimm, I wanted my own Grimm collection. Around the same time, I got hooked on the TV series Bonanza. After my sister died two months later, I began to put Bonanza stories in my head when I went to bed at night, stories where no one ever dies. Undeath, spirituality, environmentalism, culture, and love of family became the themes of my life and my writing.
In high school my writing coach said that I had ‘It’ although she never did tell me what it was! I created memorable things in high school that have since disappeared. I went to college but focused on acting for a year. That was a mistake (long story) so I took my love for the typewriter to get a degree as a secretary. Marriage and family followed, and of course I wanted three kids, Cartwright kids. I decided that I had to raise my children as Ben Cartwright would, because he never played favorites the way my parents and grandparents did.
Funny thing happens when you start having kids, too—you want to be home with them. The desire to be a writer surfaced again when my oldest was a year old—the idea that I could stay home and get paid for what I wrote meant no more searching for babysitters! What parent wouldn’t like that?
I spent a lot of my kids’ early years distracted by my love for theater, however, and the chance to make a difference in the community. As a result, they grew up too fast, and very independent. (Cats in the Cradle is real, folks.) My real dedication to a writing career did not fully begin until around 1990, when I finally got serious about researching history for a series of vampire short stories. Yes, I was writing about a man who couldn’t die, a man I patterned after my father, who died when I was 14.
By 1994, I loved writing and history so much that I decided to finish that college degree, which led me to get a master’s in history in 2006 to learn all I could about research.
The problem with writing history is that there’s so little time to write because so much time is spent researching! I think this is why historical writers are generally pretty old before they get anywhere. And we don’t crank out a novel a year, either!
OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS WITH ANSWERS
Long story short – timing. And miscommunication. I happened to be the moderator of an early fan website on Prodigy at a time when Dortort was producing a new TV movie with featuring Ben Cartwright’s grandsons, back in 1993. I also had just started writing fanfic, and thought my novel was good enough to publish, so I wrote him, enclosed a short story and asked for permission to publish. Not too much later an associate producer of the new movie in production emailed me and asked for my website’s help on the Retrospect they had planned to release in conjunction with the movie. Needless to say, we were very happy to give them suggestions on our favorite Bonanza scenes to use.
That’s where the miscommunication comes in. I decided I could write a script for the grandkids that brought Adam Cartwright back to the Ponderosa – to die. I told David, by letter, that I felt sure Pernell Roberts would do a script like this. But the way I said it – “I know Pernell will like this script,” gave him the impression that I knew Pernell Roberts personally. After three years of attempting to submit the script to every production company in Hollywood while continuing to try to sell David on the idea, I finally told him I was coming to Hollywood if he’d like to talk about it, and he gave me his phone number.
I had gotten copies of my short stories and my novel, Felling of the Sons, to him, but what really sold him on my writing was the script I’d given him. A few years earlier he’d authorized Stephen Calder to write a series of Bonanza novels, but unfortunately these didn’t do well on the market. If you ask Bonanza fans who’d read them, they’d tell you it seemed Calder never really watched the show. I later learned Calder was a pseudonym for two writers who collaborated.
Dortort could tell I was an avid fan of the show, and my writing style complimented his vision of who the Cartwrights were. He also loved my personal family story—My husband’s name is Joe, and I deliberately named my older son Adam. But only several years after naming the younger one Bennett did I realize I had Ben, Joe and Adam in the family. My daughter, however, won’t let us call her Hoss. I had three kids because of Bonanza – it seemed the right number. And I’ve always loved how Dortort used real history as a backdrop for his characters. He wasn’t put off when I told him I lost interest in the show after Adam left. I think he’d heard that one before.
Know the characters so well that they feel like family. Find new situations for them, using the style only you have, and find out who the contacts for the copyrighted characters are. I also contacted NBC because I wasn’t sure who had the copyright. Believe in yourself, and what you write, above all. I just knew that Felling of the Sons deserved to be published. And I still think Pernell Roberts would have loved my script, even though he never responded to my queries. I also wrote several scripts for the short-lived series, Ponderosa, one that Roberts would have been perfect for. Too bad that show didn’t get another season. It was just finding itself at the end of first season, and still has an incredibly active fan base.
David gave me the permission for Mystic Fire after we had a conversation that demonstrated I knew nearly as much about the Civil War as he did, and he totally agreed with my perspective on Lincoln’s character. Since his death I’ve not pursued more publication, but I do have free novels I used as marketing—one free to anyone, and other free to anyone who loved my two published novels.
In the historical field I recently got a researched 1827 sawmill site on the National Register of Historic Places. I’ve also presented my great-uncle Henry as an old soldier telling his stories of the Indian and Civil Wars, and audiences seemed to really enjoy him. I use a killer German accent, or so I’m told.
Oh, horrendous! He initially sought an English speaking writer for his six projects, and I agreed to do only one, and Cannibals because I had some background in that kind of research. He provided a lot of the history he wanted used, and a lot of fiction scenes, leaving me to figure out how to piece all of it together. Eventually I told him there was too much work here for 20% and I would have to be considered a co-author. After seven years of working I found us a publisher but they weren’t any good so I got the contract cancelled. He has hated me ever since, and finally forced me to publish at Amazon.
Impatience. Oh yeah! I tend to put my new work out there too quickly.
Just about anything. Obviously I like to read what I like to write, but I go beyond that, and definitely beyond the Stephen King novels I used to love. I also really do enjoy the books I have to read as research. I find it amazing how many different ways historians can put together the details surrounding the same event. Since I became an Amazon Vine reviewer I’m never at a lost for reading material, but not often anything I really enjoy. I don’t currently have a favorite author.
I’m a firm believer in two writing processes for fiction – the outline, and getting inside the characters’ heads so that they direct the story, not me. So even though I have an outline, and I know how I want the story to start and end, the actual process of it is in the hands of the characters. I recommend to anyone that they should just start writing, and then, when they get stuck, if they get stuck, then do the rest in an outline.
For nonfiction, it’s a little different. I take a topic, and I research the hell out of it, and only by seeing what’s available on the topic do I know how the book will actually develop. I have to learn the basics of the topic of course, so that I have some direction, but it’s more than an outline, and it’s less. Because until I’m done researching, it’s hard to say what the book will actually be. I don’t like to have a preconceived notion of the book before I research it.
For instance, with Henry’s book I figured that it would have to be about attitude, because of his comment that “we didn’t try hard to catch the Indians; we could see they were good people.” So I set out to find the attitudes of the time period, and tried hard to walk a path between opposing sides.
I’ve had quite a laundry list of experience with agents. I’d say out of about six of them, I’ve trusted one. I know there are better agents out there. The ones I’ve found recognize that I have something, but seem more interested in letting me do the work and just attaching themselves to the project. I need to find one who is excited enough to do the work with me.
A dream! Seriously. And I started researching him because for some reason I just knew he was a Greek vampire. Lots of life happened between the time he came to me and this new publication. He’s been featured in a variety of short stories, I wrote a complete novel, Bloodlove, which is to be a follow-up, with a few more edits, and I have another collection of short stories nearly ready to go, too.
But he got off track when I got agented. I had this idea that I should do him in first person, with a narrator, and my agent thought that was great so for the longest time I was marketing that way. Little by little, with feedback, he evolved back to third person, and the beginning was always so hard for me until one publisher gave me the idea. They didn’t end up taking it, but Solstice, who had turned it down once before, apparently loved the new beginning and here we are. Arabus is ready for the world—and hopefully the world is ready for a new kind of vampire.
It’s a storytelling technique that depends on dialog and action and plotting. The best thing to do is get scriptwriting software, develop some characters and a plot and let them go. My best experience was in adapting my vampire novel into a script. It helped me to bring the novel more to life, and having the novel done meant the script already had an outline. I do believe scripts need outlines. My western script was done without one and I got lost a lot. I’ve also got a low budget contemporary script that’s maybe too funky to categorize, but was meant to be my response to Pulp Fiction and Fargo, two favorites.
It’s not easy. I wrote the treatment for a Robert Heinlein book, Have Spacesuit Will Travel, and got hold of his estate’s managers and found out someone else has it in pre-production limbo. So I’m waiting for my chance to continue that project. Entering contests, of course, will win you some notoriety, but in my case, the contests I won didn’t do anything for me. The fact that it does win or at least place is encouraging, however. My western script was originally intended to be a Rawhide, and I wanted it to go to Clint Eastwood, with a character specifically for him. It was agented, and the fellow said he got it to Clint who rejected it, but never could get me a copy of the rejection. I also wrote one while on a trip to Paris with my daughter and mother, based on that experience, which I think is a riot but isn’t have any success out there. Maybe it’s too personal..
When I went to Hollywood to meet with David, I did try getting agents for all the material and called around while I was there. That didn’t lead to anything.
12 books. I think that’s all I have in me. Mine take too long to develop, because of the research and all. I don’t crank out genre material. Mine are all different, so I don’t really pick up a following, unless people like history and culture. I have a couple other nonfiction projects to develop but those are more lifelong dream project kinds of things. I would love to win an Academy award for screenwriting, so I’m making that a goal. I think my historical script Following Orders would have a good shot at that. If I can find someone to take a chance. I also long to be found in bookstores, but bookstores would have to still be available when I get there, and shelf space is harder and harder to find.
End of Interview Questions for