• LISP Team

Millie West, LISP 2nd Half 2021 Feature Screenplay Finalist

LISP 2nd Half 2021 Feature Screenplay Finalist, Dr. Portia, Alexia Lucas and Millie West


Interview with Millie West

- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?

I live in South Carolina and divide my time between our house on Lake Murray and Beaufort where I spend time fishing and exploring the barrier islands. I have four cats and a dog that are delightful. I don't write every day. I seem to work better if I step away from my stories for periods of time.


- When and how did you get into writing?

I was working as a real estate broker in 2007 when the economy made a significant downturn. I found that I had time to write, which was something I'd always wanted to do. My first novel, "The Cast Net" was published in 2012 followed by "Catherine's Cross." Both novels are set in the Low Country of South Carolina along the coast. I have since written two more novels, "Of Sun and Rain," and "The Sun Seeker" that follow "The Cast Net." The three form the "Southern Redemption Series," which is a mystery/suspense trilogy. My first screenplay was an adaptation of my novel, Catherine's Cross. All of my feature scripts have been awarded, and I have just completed my ninth screenplay that's set in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1932. Part of the action takes place on Cat Island--the home of a nudist colony! Lots of mischief!


- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?

I write often, but not every day. I find that I enjoy doing the research for my screenplays. I learn things I never knew and it keeps me thinking!


- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

Being awarded in competitions is very satisfying. It lets you know that you're on the right track to improve your skills. Hopefully, this will lead to gaining representation and being produced. "Dr. Portia" is a screenplay finalist in the London Independent Story Prize, and I'm grateful for this honor. I'd like to think that the late David Lean would have been interested in Dr. Portia's story. Also, I'm a big fan of Julian Fellowes' work. I'd love for him to read it.


- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a Screenplay? Completing the first draft is satisfying. I feel good that I've completed the story, then I can go back and start editing. I think one of the hardest things is finding all the mistakes. I can read a screenplay ten times and still find an error.


- How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?

"Dr. Portia" is based on the true story of South Carolinian, Dr. Portia McKnight Lubchenco. Portia was the first female graduate of the North Carolina School of Medicine. She was first rejected by the South Carolina Medical College because she was a woman. In 1912, Portia married Alexis Lubbchenco, a Russian agronomist. They divided their time between Moscow and Turkestan where Alexis ran a cotton experimental station. During their time in Turkestan, Portia treated Sart women who'd never known medical care. In one case, she treated a woman in labor. Sadly, the baby was still born and the mother was in serious condition. Portia insisted that the woman be taken to a hospital in Tashkent, but her husband refused to get her the needed treatment.-- It was cheaper to get another wife. In 1917, Portia and her family escaped Russia through Siberia on a harrowing train journey. My co-author is Dr. Portia's great-granddaughter, Alexia Lucas. We first copyrighted "Dr. Portia" in 2019 and there have been many rewrites.


- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Screenplay?

I think the beginning of the screenplay, like a novel, has to be exciting, compelling and hopefully, engage the reader.


- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?

Competitions are fun, especially if your screenplay is awarded. When you're rejected in a competition and you don't know why, it can be frustrating.


- Lastly, do you recommend the writers give a go on LISP?

Yes, absolutely enter the London Independent Story Prize. This was my first time entering. I'd like to meet the LISP team one day!


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