Brain to Books Blog Tour: Everett Robert
Just the Facts!
Author: Everett Robert
Angela B. Chrysler: What is your book about?
Everett Robert: BASED ON THE… is a collection of four (4) short dramatic retellings of famous stories either based on previously published material now available in the public domain. The first play in the collection is called THE REUNION and is based on Thomas Hardy’s classic poem “A Ruined Maid” and tells the story of two old friends running into each other on the street of a major city and they catch up. I put a modern twist on my adaptation, set it in modern times and made it about a Christian woman and her best friend from high school, who came out as a lesbian. Hardy’s poem is about how others view you isn’t always the way you view yourself and that was one of the ideas I was playing with. The second play, THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF LOT 249 is based on one of the first “mummy” horror stories in literature, “Lot No. 249” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is about a police detective interrogating his primary suspect in a recent string of murders. The play BLINK is based on the true story and many of the newspaper accounts of the infamous Newsboys Strike of 1899 in which a group of New York city newsboys, the “extra, extra read all about it” hawkers, went on strike against the two major newspaper publishers at that time and won. Those kids, there were boys and girls, were organized by a young man somewhere around the age of 13-15 nicknamed Kid Blink (because he had one eye). BLINK is a short monodrama style play that tells Blink’s story of leading the strike. The final play, MIRIAM AND ISA, is based on the famous Nativity story from the Bible but looking at it from a more historical context.
ABC: Where did you conceive the idea for your book?
ER: I’m an actor and director in addition to being a writer so I love to read plays. I also like to work with young actors who are competitive drama and are always looking for new pieces to perform. I thought it would be fun to have a collection of short plays that these actors could do in competition. The fact that there were all “based on” a previous famous or not famous, story also made it an interesting challenge for me. I started writing these scripts after sitting in a class at Fort Hays State University on English literature and studying A Ruined Maid. I thought it would be beautifully dramatic to adapt Hardy’s poem (something I don’t think has really been done with that poem). The Mysterious Case of Lot 249 was inspired when I was watching a movie and saw an adaptation of it done with Steve Buscemi and Christian Slater. I got to thinking about the police detective who would investigate this crime and a Law and Order type interrogation scene. BLINK was inspired while listening to the soundtrack to the musical NEWSIES. I knew that the original 90s movie and the recent Broadway Musical were based on a true story but I wanted to know the truth and found the truth much more interesting then the stage and film versions. MIRIAM AND ISA came when a friend contacted me asking if I would write her a monologue for her church’s Christmas pageant that would explore the historical Mary. My previously published plays (Allie In Wonderland and The Absolutely True Story of Tom Sawing As Told By Becky Thatcher) were both adaptations and that was something I felt comfortable tackling.
ABC: What kind of research did you do for your book?
ER: BLINK and MIRIAM AND ISA took the most amount of research. I have a folder of internet pages and scans of newspaper clippings from the actual strike. MIRIAM AND ISA took a bit more research since The Bible has been translated from one language to another and from an ancient time period to a modern context. The trick was going through the speculations of lots of different scholars (conservative and liberal) and finding the ones that made the most sense to me. What I wrote I believe but I understand that others might have a different perspective then me. Like the inn may not have been an “inn” like we associate it (a hotel like business) but possibly a family member’s house that wasn’t prepared for them.
ABC: What scene/chapter was the hardest for you to write?
ER: MIRIAM AND ISA was, without a doubt, the hardest to write because I wanted to treat that story with respect and devotion but at the same time give people a new perspective on the familiar story.
ABC: What part of your book is your favorite?
ER: BLINK is probably my favorite play in the collection. I love that character to death.
ABC: What are your favorite past times?
ER: I love to act and perform as well as write for the theater, so any chance I get to do that, I will. I also love to cook. I’m a huge TV/film fan so I’ll take any chance I get to “veg out” or even have something playing when I’m writing. I also, in my non-writing capacity, am a wedding DJ and love that as it allows me a chance to drive all over Kansas and celebrate with people on their most important day.
ABC: What is your favorite movie?
ER: Casablanca or Field of Dreams
ABC: What is your favorite book/author?
ER: I can’t just limit to one LOL but I will say that Gregory McDonald’s Fletch books, Elmore Leonard and Stephen King have all played a huge part in my reading habits. Some more recent authors I enjoy are Lisa Mantchev, Christopher Moore, and Ernest Cline.
ABC: Tell us about your pets. Do you have any fur friends?
ER: One cat, named Puck after Shakespeare’s mischievous fairy from A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.
ABC: Favorite foods?
ER: Chili cheese dogs are my go-to comfort food. Love them!
ABC: “Story” has always been the center of all human cultures. We need it. We seek it out. We invent it. What does “story” mean to you?
ER: To me Story is about distilling the human experience into a bite size piece. To borrow a term from the culinary word, story is like an amuse bouche, a bite sized portion of flavor to set the evening’s dining off. That is what story is to me, a “bite” of the human experience to tease us into what is ahead.
ABC: Where can we find you and your books?