Schickler! Tell us about your new memoir The Dark Path!
It’s about how I pursued the Catholic priesthood in my youth and early 20s. Here are some very real obstacles I faced: Quicksand. Neo-Nazis. The tango. A psycho student who wanted to kill me. A nympho hotel concierge who wanted me to kill her, in bed. Oh, and true love.
You really wanted to become a priest? Why?
I found prayer thrilling. And I loved God. I wanted to empty myself out for Him and devote my life to Him in solitude.
So what was the problem?
The problem was, women are amazing, and I wanted one. A wife.
Why didn’t you just become a priest in some other denomination, where you could marry?
That never felt like an option. Catholicism was home. I wanted to consecrate the Eucharist. I wanted it as bad as I wanted to get laid.
You’ve said that you felt trapped between a life of writing and being with Mara (your college girlfriend), or else priesthood. Were you caught between art and faith?
And that caused you to have – no pun – a nervous breakdown?
I screwed myself up pretty badly: insomnia, way too much Bass beer, a severe karate injury to my hip, crippling panic attacks, a loss of faith.
You’re not selling a very lighthearted read, sir.
Shut up. Yes, I am. The book is funny. I’m especially proud of the Vermont section.
Right… during your nervous breakdown you got a job teaching in a Vermont boarding school. Why are you so proud of that part?
When I was a shaky mess, desperate to end up with Mara or God, my students helped me in great, irreverent ways. I woke up from a bender on my living room floor one night at 2 a.m. to find that my dorm students had broken into my apartment and pounded my beer and were sitting huddled around me, drunk, watching a Matlock marathon on my TV. They patted my head and told me my shit would work out. It did.
Read the book, please.
Oh, right. So, you also co-created the new action series, Banshee, on Cinemax. From what I’ve heard, The Dark Path and Banshee are both love stories with explicit sex and plenty of profanity and violence. Is this combination an obsession of yours?
I like visceral storytelling with high stakes. I lose interest in anything less. This may be a result of growing up devout, and feeling always that my soul was on the line in what I did and said. When it came to this memoir, I wrote about the direst time in my life, from when I was eighteen to twenty-five. Those were the years when my biggest changes and upheavals came, sexually, spiritually, artistically, in every way. That may be true for many people, and I think they’ll relate if they read the book. And even if they don’t relate, I believe they’ll be entertained and enjoy laughing at the basket case that was me in those years.
Yes. I, for one, plan to keep laughing at your basket-case self for the foreseeable future.
David Schickler is a screenwriter and author of the New York Times bestselling novel Kissing in Manhattan and the nationally bestselling novel Sweet and Vicious. He is the co-creator and executive producer of the new Cinemax television series Banshee and has written original and adapted scripts for Universal, Lions Gate, Sidney Kimmel and Wildwood Films. He lives in New York with his wife and their children.