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Kimberly Kreines' Strength Shows at Writers Boot Camp

Oct. 12, 2011
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Franklin native Kimberly Kreines is a scientist, researcher, author and screenwriter. Kreines' sci-fi novel Seer won her a stint in Writers Boot Camp, where she adapted the story to a screenplay titled Shifted. That, too, won accolades—and a 2011 development deal.

You have a BS in biomedical engineering, an MS in biomedical engineering robotics with graduate research in neuroscience, and an MFA in creative writing. Have you given any thought to becoming better educated?

I have. I want a Ph.D. in film now. I've always loved learning. I started out in journalism, actually, but was lured into biomedical engineering and quickly fell in love with neuroscience. The brain is so complex. It's the next great void—totally a black box where everything is new. Any advancement could lead to a million things. And then I got into writing about this stuff. I have to give a shout-out to Pine Manor College. Those teachers welcomed me—with no background and no reason to be writing, really. Now, I'm totally inspired by the what-ifs and the conjecture of what could be and where we might be headed. I can't help it now. It's like an addiction.

You hold a patent for a brain/computer interface that reads brain waves to control external devices, such as a robotic arm. Can it write, too?

I am trying to get it to speak. That's the first step.

Your novel and screenplay are set in "a dystopian, near-future Chicago." Do the Cubs win something?

No. There's no baseball in this dystopian future. So I guess the bad news is the Brewers don't win anything either. I can't divulge too much. But the basic idea is the next step in evolution toward the collective. Everyone is connected via neural implants—like smartphones in your head—which let them exist in a virtual world. Everything is fed into your brain, evolving the collective further. The story is about the different pockets of humanity that exist within this.

In 2010, you won a trip to Writers Boot Camp (birthplace of "Desperate Housewives," "Mad Men,"
Ocean's 13 and Blades of Glory, among others). Are there writing drill sergeants?

The bad news is I don't go. It's online. It's actually a fellowship for a Los Angeles screenwriting school. I'm paired with a mentor. We talk on the phone twice a week. That constant feedback is invaluable. They know how to pull the story out of massive, long novels. In novels you can be wordy, go off on tangents, explain things and detail everything. In a screenplay you have to rein all that in and be precise. You have to let go a little, trust others' interpretations and hope your vision comes through. It's really intense. But at the start you have nothing, and six months later you have a screenplay.

What's the literary equivalent of push-ups?

Just plain ol' writing every day.

You already have a development deal for the screenplay, correct?

The boot camp runs three new fellows through per month. At the end of one year every script is considered. I was the lucky one (of 36) for 2010.


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