Yager, Fred 1946-
YAGER, Fred 1946-
Born November 1, 1946, in Albany, NY; son of William S. (a musician and singer) and Mary D. (an administrative assistant) Yager; married December 30, 1984; wife's name Jan (a writer and producer); children: Scott, Jeffrey. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: New York University, certificate, 1972; City College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1978. Politics: Independent. Religion: "Jewish/Catholic."
Home—Stamford, CT. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer and producer. Associated Press, New York, NY, worked as staff writer, editor, film critic, entertainment writer, and managing editor, 1970-83; worked as screenwriter in Hollywood, CA, beginning 1983; Merrill Lynch, vice president for corporate communications, 1987-2002; World News & Information Network, founder and president, 2002—. Also worked as broadcast news writer for Columbia Broadcasting System; and as news editor, producer, and writer for Fox Broadcasting Co. Military service: U.S. Navy, war correspondent, 1965-70; served in Vietnam.
Awards include Telly Award for a video news feature on "money sense"; Silver Anvil Award for crisis communications, Public Relations Society of America; and selection as broadcast news writer of the year, Associated Press.
(With wife, Jan Yager) Untimely Death, Hannacroix Creek Books (Stamford, CT) 1998.
(With Jan Yager) Just Your Everyday People, Hannacroix Creek Books (Stamford, CT), 2001.
Rex (juvenile), Hannacroix Creek Books (Stamford, CT), 2002.
Cybersona (young adult), Hannacroix Creek Books (Stamford, CT), 2005.
(With Jan Yager) Career Opportunities in the Film Industry, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Jan Yager) Career Opportunities in the Publishing Industry: A Guide to Careers in Newspapers, Magazines, and Books, Facts on File (New York, NY), 2005.
Also author of more than a dozen screenplays. Work represented in poetry anthologies, including The Healing Power of Creative Mourning: Poems.
Fred Yager told CA: "Writing has always been a form of therapy for me, a way to communicate emotions and inner conflicts that threatened to cripple my soul or devour the psychic energy necessary to perform.
"Early in my career, I ventured from poet to journalist, applying a lyrical touch to reportage. The U.S. Navy sent me to journalism school twice, one semester for print and one semester for broadcasting. After the first semester, I served as an editor of a base newspaper in Texas, and then after the second, I went to Vietnam as a war correspondent assigned to cover in-country navy activity: the river war. I literally learned to be a reporter under fire. Most of what I wrote was buried under the thick black magic markers of military censors. But the stories still whirl around my mind like out-of-control memories trying to break out. I was part of a small group of war correspondents and combat photographers, and each time one of us left for home we received a plaque with a unique saying on it. Mine said 'Strange Report.'
"After eighteen months of covering the war, I returned to the United States and took a job in New York City with the Associated Press, where I worked for thirteen years, continuing to cover the war, but from the safety of a desk thousands of miles from the fighting, as well as every other major news event between 1970 and 1983, including Watergate. In my last four years at the Associated Press, I was an entertainment reporter and film critic.
"Beginning in 1982 in my spare time, I started writing screenplays. In 1983 I had two of them optioned, so I left the Associated Press and traveled to Hollywood to begin a new life as a screenwriter. The first script was optioned by director Walter Hill. It was a buddy movie, similar in tone to Walter's hit 48 Hours. Walter had a studio deal with Universal, so I would meet with either Walter or his producer David Giler as I began a rewrite. Meanwhile, producer Aaron Russo, who had a studio deal at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, optioned my second script, a war drama set in Southeast Asia. So I spent much of my time driving back and forth between Universal, which was in Universal City, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which was in Culver City. As I worked on rewriting my two screenplays I also attended a lot of pitch meetings, where you were expected to boil your script down to a couple of minutes that would inspire a sale or get the person you were meeting to read your script.
"Long story short: after having my sixth script optioned and still no movie made, I followed my wife's advice and began writing novels. At least this afforded the opportunity for readers to enjoy an actual finished project, a book, instead of just having unproduced screenplays that were collecting dust. I haven't given up on getting a movie made from one of my speculative scripts, including screenplays of all of my novels.
"My first novel, a collaboration with my wife, Jan, was Untimely Death, a suspense thriller about a criminology professor who becomes an unlikely sleuth when she discovers that her best friend has been murdered and she makes sure the case is not ignored. The next novel, also a collaboration with Jan, was Just Your Everyday People, another thriller about the dark side of suburbia. After that, I went solo for the next two novels, Rex, the story of a boy who raises a dinosaur in New York City, and Cybersona, about a quadriplegic who uses an Internet game to take over another player's mind and body, which he intends to use as a weapon of revenge against those responsible for his paralysis. I was inspired to write mysteries, thrillers, and science fiction novels because I like to read them. It would be hard for me to write in a genre that I didn't enjoy reading. I've had many influences on my writing: Kurt Vonnegut, Elmore Leonard, Bob Dylan come instantly to mind. But there are scores, including William Goldman, Ed McBain, John D. MacDonald, and Robert Heinlein.
"My writing process depends on whatever project I'm working on. Finding time to write is always a challenge, but once I become committed to a project and begin writing, and the words and ideas start to flow, the hours fly by. I tend to separate research from writing. The writing starts when the research is complete. Sometimes, the writing will take over, especially in fiction, and it feels as if I've entered another reality, a zone where I am no longer in control of the writing, but where the writing and the words seem to control me.
"As for my primary motivation for writing, I would have to say that I write to live and live to write. When I'm not writing, I feel numb and not energized. It's as simple as that."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Publishers Weekly, July 28, 1997, review of Untimely Death, p. 56; December 6, 2004, review of Career Opportunities in the Publishing Industry: A Guide to Careers in Newspapers, Magazines, and Books, p. 53.
Fred and Jan Yager Home Page,http://www.fredandjanyager.com (February 21, 2006).