Act4Mystery founder Paula Hilton stopped by the Beachcomber Mansion recently to discuss her upcoming production.
Congratulations on Foul Play on the Fairway, which must be what, the 50th murder mystery show you’ve written?
I wish! My long-term goal is to write at least 50 murder mysteries, but I’m only at 35 right now. I probably have ideas for a dozen shows swooshing around in my head, though, so that number is definitely doable.
The hard part is figuring out which one to write next. I’m leaning towards finally getting the “ghost walk” show out of my head, so look for that next year.
What made you want to take on the world of golf in the new show?
After my dad passed in 2017, my mom asked my sister and me if we would take up the sport because she no longer had a golf partner. I wasn’t excited about it, but finally caved and played with them. And I was hooked! Just like that.
They always say, “Write about what you know,” and now I know all kinds of things about golf I would never know if I didn’t play it myself. Chili-dipping? Worm-burners? It’s a whole new world.
Without spoilers, what can you tell us about Foul Play on the Fairway?
Every place has cliques, as I’m sure you know. Go to the local bowling alley, and you’ll see all the little groups of people who have been bowling forever. Same is true for golf. You have the good players, the wannabes, the partiers…just like any other sport.
So this show is about a little clique of golfers and their relationships with one another, which are all revealed at a big dinner to congratulate the current tournament winners. Except you really shouldn’t be airing all those relationship issues in public, should you? Something bad might happen…
Editor Manson has forced—er, invited—us to come to a lot of your shows. How is this one different from some of the others?
A lot of my shows are generic enough where you can relate without having to have actually ever been in that situation. For instance, my show Killer in the Kitchen is about a group of folks putting on a reality cooking show—you don’t have to have been on or been involved with a cooking show to enjoy it.
This show is very specific. But although it’s aimed at golfers, it rings true for anyone involved in any sport or group activity. No matter what you do in life, you’re always going to bump up against someone who is too loud or obnoxious, or someone who cheats, or someone who just can’t help being a big kiss-up. It’s human nature. How I write about it is what makes my stories fun. And this one is fun!
Are there writers/performers that inspire you?
I’m a huge fan of the writing on older shows like Friends, Seinfeld and Frasier. Their slice-of-life storylines were so clever, but more importantly, they were so ridiculously funny. Of my stuff, the ones I find ridiculously funny are my favorites. Podunk Pandemonium and Murder at the Monster Bash stand out.
I strive for ridiculously funny, and Foul Play on the Fairway has some of those moments. But when you’re telling a story versus a slice-of-life, it can’t be belly laughs from end to end. Otherwise, you’d never know what the story was about. So expect lots of laughs and an interesting story, too.
Do you have any advice for newcomers to the fairway?
Yes. I’ve been playing for almost two years, and I’m still pretty horrible as far as my score goes. But I’m improving all the time. And I love it. I love being outside and the companionship with my mom, sister and brother-in-law, driving the golf cart…especially driving the golf cart! That was a huge plus I wasn’t expecting.
But the important thing is to have fun. And don’t be discouraged—golf is a really hard game. You can play for a zillion years and still learn something new. Mom is 84 years old and plays like a pro, but she still watches Amy Choi videos and is constantly trying new things. It’s just a very difficult sport. So hang in there, and keep driving it home!
Act4Mystery’s Foul Play on the Fairway debuts at Samuel’s Roadhouse in Crestview Saturday, Oct. 26.