Under the influence of his "creative thinking cap."
Editor of a weekly newspaper, THE DESERT TRAIL, Kurt Schauppner is no stranger to the written word. Schauppner is also an accomplished writer of several books and has gone on to self-publish his work. Another book is currently in the works, but not yet released, called THE FIRST BOOK OF EXILE. A master of a number of stylistic forms, Schauppner is also skilled at writing poetry, songs and screenplays.

The life on the page of his writing has also taken physical form in the shape of theatrical productions. The latest of the five plays that Schauppner has written, entitled THE MEMORY JAR, was featured at Theatre 29 in Twentynine Palms, California. As fellow Cultmachine colleague and friend, John Huff, has many times remarked in his theatre reviews, Kurt Schauppner is a "talented actor with a commanding stage presence."

Join Cultmachines Shannon Luster as she chats with Kurt Schauppner about writing, editing and much more...

SHANNON LUSTER: You're a novelist, author of GHOSTS OF IDE COUNTY. Would you like to share your inspirations for what first drew you to write the book?

KURT SCHAUPPNER: I had a dream about a man wandering into a small town and little by little realizing he had grown up there. I thought that would be an interesting story to tell, the idea of being from somewhere but going away for so long that when you come back you don’t recognize it at first. The idea quickly shifted to the question of what happens to a community when someone who is beloved there leaves suddenly and mysteriously.

SL: What is the GHOSTS OF IDE COUNTY about?

KS: It is about community and about how one person can affect an entire community, first by their presence and then by their absence.

Keeping the news coming for the Hi-Desert community of Twentynine Palms, CA
SL: You self-published your book, GHOSTS OF IDE COUNTY? How did self-publishing turn out? Would you recommend it to other authors?

KS: I did, first through Amazon and then through lulu.com. Rob Wanless helped me a lot. He worked on editing the book and got me set up with lulu.com. He really did all the leg work. I could not have gotten it done without him. I like self-publishing. It is perfect for a fellow, like me, with somewhat limited ambitions. I’ve sold something like 40 copies of GHOSTS OF IDE COUNTY and I’m pretty thrilled. I would definitely recommend it to others.

SL: What are your recommendations to anyone who wants to start writing?

KS: Write. Write every day. Practice is the key to doing anything well. Do a lot of writing that has no more purpose than practicing chords has to guitar playing.

SL: Who is your favorite writer? How has that writer inspired you?

KS: I’ve got a lot of favorite writers. I like Mark Twain and Sholem Aleichem for their humor and biting social commentary. I like Faulkner for his descriptive abilities and Hemingway for the way he gets straight to the heart of a story. I like Shakespeare for his characters and his command of the language.

SL: Do you ever experience writer's block? How do you get out of it?
The mural outside "The Desert Trail" Offices

KS: I’m experiencing it right now. I’m working on a new book, THE FIRST BOOK OF EXILE,” and I’ve sort of written myself into a corner. I’m not certain how I’m going to get out of it but it has brought the process to more or less a complete stop. Fortunately, this is just the first draft so I think if I just jump in and write whatever comes to mind I can push through and get going again.

Taking the stage at Theatre 29
SL: Besides books you have written screenplays, songs, plays...

KS: I’ve written a few songs. I recorded several of them with a friend of mine named Chuck Saitta, who is an amazingly talented musician and recording artist. I wrote a screenplay which I then produced and directed locally. ONCE UPON A DIRT ROAD is now available on DVD on the Reach Out Morongo Basin website. I’ve written five plays which have been produced in the Morongo Basin. The latest was THE MEMORY JAR, at Theatre 29.
Before GHOSTS OF IDE I self-published a little crime book called SHARDS OF BROKEN GLASS, which is still available at Amazon.com. Good golly, I am just one shameless self-promotion after another.

As Editor In Chief -- keeping alive the spirit of news pioneer Bill Underhill who founded the weekly newspaper "The Desert Trail" in 1935.
SL: You're also a poet. How often do you write poetry? Do you have a favorite poet?

KS: I’ll write a poem whenever the mood strikes me. I like to haiku a lot. I enjoy the old Japanese masters of that form, Basho comes to mind.

SL: You are an editor at a weekly newspaper, The Desert Trail. Since you are both a writer and an editor, do you have a preference between being a writer or an editor? Or do you find enjoyment in both?

KS: Each has its own set of challenges and its own set of skills. I think I am probably a better writer than editor so I’d have to say I enjoy that more.

SL: How is writing for a weekly newspaper different from writing novels and/or screenplays?

KS: Writing a novel or a screenplay is like being a farmer. You plant the seed, work the soil, tend the sapling, let it grow, sometimes in ways you had not anticipated, and in the end, if you are lucky, you have a bountiful harvest. Creating a weekly newspaper is, at time, more like being at one with Sisyphus.

A fitting place to live for the screenwriter, producer and director of "Once Upon A Dirtroad."
SL: You live in the desert city of Twentynine Palms. What first drew you there? Are there benefits to living out in the desert versus in the city? And if so, would you like to share your thoughts about that?

KS: My first partner and I found a nice house out here. I like living away from other people. It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that sometimes I have to get the hell away from them.

SL: Is there anything else about Twentynine Palms that you would like to share with us? Interesting stories? History?

KS: People always talk about the weather, particularly the heat, but for me, that is the least interesting thing about the area. I’m fascinated by the fact that there are no trains here. I enjoy the fact that you can often see a convoy of tanks, loaded with Marines, rolling down the highway and no one seems to bat an eye about it. I like being able to look up at night and see a sky blanketed by stars.

Rush hour in Twentynine Palms -- Life could be worse!
Of course the people are wonderful.

There is a huge portion of my brain dedicated to keeping myself from saying things but most of the people I meet here seem to have had that portion of their brain removed. It’s a surgery I am thinking about getting.

SL: What's next for Kurt A. Schauppner?

KS: Well, like I said, I’m working on a new book THE FIRST BOOK OF EXILE, which is about how we don’t realize what we don’t have until we suddenly get it. I’m getting ready to do a couple of plays at Grove’s Theatre. The first will be a readers’ theatre production of 8 and the second will be a full production of STRANGE SNOW. Both should be terribly interesting. Outside of that I’m free as a bird.







Kurt Schauppner on Facebook

Two acres of creative solitude