The One with Stephen Schiff

Scriptnotes: Ep. 337

John is joined by The Americans’ executive producer Stephen Schiff at a live Scriptnotes taping in New York! They discuss grounding an outrageous premise in character, suspension of disbelief, premium act breaks, and writing for a foreign language.

We also answer audience questions about New York writers rooms, expert consultants, expecting comparisons, first drafts, and how to write a period piece when history is full of spoilers.


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You can download the episode here.

Arlo Finch in the Bookstores of America (and Canada)

My first novel, Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire, comes out today in stores throughout North America.

I’d love you to, well, buy it. People buying books makes future books possible.

It’s available at massive online stores, national chains and your local indie bookstore.

Arlo Finch is middle-grade fantasy fiction. That’s the broad category that includes Harry Potter, Stranger Things and Star Wars. If that’s not your speed, you may have a son or daughter or nephew who would dig it.

How old does a kid need to be for Arlo? All kids are different, but eight seems a good general guideline. The audiobook might be a good option for younger sorts.

But if you’d like to help me out, there are a few other things you can do.

  1. Review it on Goodreads and Amazon.
  2. Recommend it to parents, teachers and librarians. They’re the ones who put books into kids’ hands.
  3. Post about on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

And if you’re in a bookstore in the next few weeks, find it on the shelf and take a peek inside. During my visit to the printing plant, I put special stickers in five books. I’m eager to learn where they turn up, so if you find one, let me know!

If you’re not listening to the Launch podcast, the first four episodes are now up. Today’s is my favorite so far.

I hope you dig the book. I’m really proud of it, and hope to be able to make more of them. Your help can make that dream possible. Thanks!

The Next 117 Pages

Scriptnotes: Ep. 65

John and Craig talk about everything that comes after the oft-discussed First Three Pages, speculating on the kinds of issues they’d spot if they were looking at full scripts.

They also answer listener questions on topics ranging from proper spacing protocol to novelists rewriting their screenplay adaptations.

This episode originally aired on November 27, 2012.


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You can download the episode here.

Call Me by Your Name

Scriptnotes: Ep. 336

John and Aline welcome Peter Spears, producer of Call Me by Your Name, to discuss how the film came to be, from optioning the novel through its long development and multiple roadblocks.

Through the lens of Call Me by Your Name, we discuss the difficulties of preproduction for an indie film, the process of securing book rights, the opportunities that adaptation presents, and what this movie means in the Hollywood landscape.


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You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 2-6-18: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

I made another podcast

Today, I’m launching a new podcast series about the journey of making a book, from initial idea to bookstore shelves.

There’s a teaser for it in the new Scriptnotes that’s up this morning. But if you’re not a regular listener, I didn’t want you to miss the news.

The backstory: Two years ago, I decided to write my own novel. It turns out, I didn’t know much about how books are actually made. So I began recording interviews with everyone involved in the process.

The result is Launch.

Behind-the-scenes of making a book

Over the course of six episodes, we’ll be following how my first novel, Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire, was written, sold, edited and printed. We’ll visit Colorado forests and Virginia printing plants, talking to the people responsible for every decision along the way: editors, agents, artists and booksellers.

Plus a ton of great authors, without whom I would be very lost.

As I’m writing this blog post, I know how it all started, but how will it end? You’ll find out when I do. That’s part of what’s exciting about this podcast. There’s no way to know how this will all turn out.

Please take a listen and subscribe. The first two episodes are available today on Apple Podcasts and everywhere you like to listen.

And if you like the show, a rating and review would help a lot.

I’ll be answering questions in a later episode, so if you have one, just use the normal email:

In February, I’ll be traveling on a two-week book tour, with live events in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, New York and Chicago. If you’d like to say hi, you can find the full schedule here.

And don’t worry. Launch isn’t replacing Scriptnotes. Craig and I will keep doing the show every Tuesday like always.

But really: Please subscribe. I think you’ll like it.

Introducing Launch

Scriptnotes: Ep. 335

John and Craig introduce Launch, John’s new podcast about making a book. Over the course of six episodes, the series tracks the process of writing and shipping a novel, from idea to printing.

The first two episodes are available today, with new episodes coming each Tuesday.

Not to worry — Scriptnotes isn’t going anywhere. We’ll have new episodes on Tuesdays as well.

Subscribe to Launch today:


Email us at

You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 1-29-18: The transcript of this episode can be found here.