Rambling On

Anthony R. Cardno's Fiction and Commentary

Archive for the ‘interviews’ Category

Jennifer Summerfield as Nora
in Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”
photo by Kyle Cassidy

I’ve been following photographer Kyle Cassidy for a few years now, from Livejournal to other social media. His wife, Jennifer Summerfield, is a wonderful NY/Philly area actress who also goes by the nom-du-0nline Trillian Stars.   Jennifer was recently in a really unique production of Henrik Ibsen’s A DOLL’S HOUSE, and Kyle decided the production needed to be filmed. A Kickstarter was put in place to get the filmed production out there in front of the public. Here, Kyle and I talk about how the production came about, how the play was filmed, and what you can do to take part in this really wonderful project.

 

ANTHONY: You’re in the midst of a successful Kickstarter campaign to create a filmed version of the recent production of A DOLL’S HOUSE performed in the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion in Philadelphia. First, can you tell us a little bit about the Mansion itself?

KYLE: It was built and occupied at almost exactly the time Ibsen’s play is set by a local businessman very similar in economic situation as Torvald and Nora [the protagonists in A Doll’s House] and it’s been preserved as a museum, so all the furniture and things like that are period. Though because it’s an actual building that people have lived in and not a set there are some things that aren’t period — it has, for example, electricity, and this is one of the conceits of having both the play and the video done there — we just accept that the Helmer’s had electricity. There’s also a burglar alarm that’s visible in some of the shots, we camouflaged it, but you can still see it in a couple shots if you know what to look for. So there are a few things, but the wallpaper and the carpets and the drapes and things like that are accurate and were collected by experts over a period of years so it’s the most accurate set you could really hope for. You’re just surrounded by the time period.

The mansion’s open for business and they do tours and a few years ago they started doing limited run plays in the space, which is how A Doll’s House happened to be done there.

ANTHONY: What is it about the Mansion that made it such a great space to mount a production of A DOLL’S HOUSE, and what makes this particular production so unique?

KYLE: The director of the play, Josh Hitchen’s is a very well known actor and director in Philadelphia; he’s famous for doing extremely intimate one-persons shows in small venues that force the audience into the play — he loves claustrophobic environments that delete the stage and put nothing between the audience and the action, so he’d been eyeing the Maxwell mansion ever since he’d first seen it. In many cases it would be difficult to get really great actors to commit to doing a full-length play that was going to run for only five performances because you’re taking a big pay cut — there are only so many audience members you can fit in that space, so you might think an actor would rather do some big play that runs for two months but Josh had an enormous number of connections from actors he’d directed or acted with before and, he had the fact that it was this great play but he also had the mansion to dangle in front of people like a great carrot. So he was able to assemble an incredible cast of very experienced actors that a lot of other people wouldn’t have been able to, partly because of the play but partly also because of where it’s being performed — in a place like this, there is no backstage — every place you go keeps you in character. It turned into one of those things where the director was able to lure a dream team into a dream theater to perform a dream play — it was a perfect storm.

ANTHONY: What influenced the decision to film the production after the show’s run ended?

KYLE: During the rehearsal process I kept saying to people “you’re taping this right? you’re hiring a film crew and you’re doing a three camera shoot of one of the performances right?” And people were like “that’s a great idea, but we’re really busy making a play.” And I think, the day before the play opened I thought “well, it’s not going to happen if I don’t do it.” So I contacted a video crew, I contacted the mansion and got an OK from them, the mansion was great, they gave me two dates that I could have the run of the place after it was closed to the public, and once I had the green light from them I contacted the actors and the director to see if they’d be able to run the play again and there was this deflating response where I found out that two of the actors were already in other plays and there was no day everybody was able to be there.

Production poster for
“A Doll’s House”
photo by Kyle Cassidy

Initially I was just thinking that it could be shot with three cameras during a regular run and everybody would be out of there in two hours. But with not having certain actors who were in scenes together the entire way in which we had to go about shooting it changed. We were forced to shoot out of sequence and this turned out to be a very great thing; we couldn’t just cover the room with three cameras anymore because not all the actors would be in the rooms together, I thought, well, now there’s no need to just stick in the one room they did the play in. This opened up everything else, and it meant we could put the cameras wherever we wanted, we could do multiple takes, we could shoot the whole thing more like a movie and less like a play. This made it a lot more expensive, a lot more time consuming and a lot more difficult to do, but it also made the final product a lot better. So we shot on two different days with different members of the cast each time. Each day was somewhere between five and ten hours — I can’t remember exactly — but cameraman Brian Siano figured out the breakdown of what scenes to do in what order to keep the actors there the shortest period of time and we went from that master list. Josh Hitchens, the director, had blocked the play, meaning figured out where everybody moved and stood, with the audience in the room in mind and when we got there, we threw a lot of that out the window. And we had to work really, really quickly. We’d figure out what scene was next, bring in all those actors, they’d do a really fast run-through of the scene as it had been staged and while watching this, Brian and I would figure out camera placements or even what room in the house to do it in, and we’d set up the cameras and do another super-fast run though and re-block the scene and the actors would sort of wing it and we’d move along to the next scene.

If someone comes over to your house and sits down in the living room with you and talks for 15 minutes, they sit in the same spot. Nobody gets up unless they’re going to get something, but you can’t do that in theater because the audience will get bored, so there’s a lot of movement put into blocking. People sit on a chair for five lines, they get up, they look out the window, they turn around, they sit down somewhere else, that kind of thing, and boring the audience is, in cinema, something you can avoid also by moving the cameras, so we did a lot of that — we could have the actors stay in one spot longer and cut back and forth between different camera angles.

ANTHONY: Some of my tech-minded friends will be upset if I don’t ask: what equipment was used to film the production, and what equipment are you using to edit the film into its final form? And why that equipment?

KYLE: We were using Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras mostly because of the size and the availability of fast, wide lenses. I think we used a 14, a 20, and a 45mm. There were a couple of shots we did with a Nikon d800 and an 85 1.8. The camera kits pack really small. Which was an advantage. We had two tripods only one of which had a video head on it, meaning that it could do smooth camera movements, so one camera was usually fixed and the other followed the action. Not having a lot of gear made things less complicated by not having to worry if we were using the right thing. We had two cameras and four lenses, so all problems had to be solved with two cameras and four lenses.

The audio was recorded on a separate device so that we weren’t using the on-camera microphones which would be catastrophic when switching back and forth between microphones in different parts of the room.

I’m not exactly sure what Brian’s editing it with, Final Cut or Premiere probably. One thing that the Kickstarter gave me the leisure to do was to hire an editor and not worry about a lot of that — it lets you just find someone who’s good at doing whatever bit of your thing and let them do it and you go on and worry about other stuff.

ANTHONY: The original goal of the Kickstarter was a modest $1,400. With 13 days to go, you’ve doubled that. What sorts of stretch goals have you added, both in terms of benefits to the project and added production value to the backers?

KYLE: I see all these ridiculously ambitious Kickstarters all the time. You know, someone’s like “I need $25,000 to go to Paris and write a poem at the top of the Eiffel tower” or what have you and they end up not getting funded and it always leaves me thinking how on Earth did you need $25,000 to go to Paris? Are you staying at Versailles? and it turns into an episode of “name that tune” in my head where I’m like “I could do that project for X dollars” — So, what I was looking for initially was pretty much just the amount of money I’d need to pay everyone for what they’d done and have nothing left over and a DVD without a slip case. That’s what I can do this for and not go broke. And really, to me, the only important thing out of the gate was that the play not get lost forever. So after that when we sold more copies I was able to give the cast a bonus and we were able to add a high-definition blu-ray version of the play and the options just get better from there. One thing about physical products like this is that they get cheaper to do the more you get — so right now if we can get to the point where I can print 1,000 copies of the DVD everything gets MUCH cheaper to do, so I can add all sorts of other stuff, I can add more graphics to the package, I can hire a sound designer to do music, I can add more special features, I can go back to the Maxwell mansion and shoot more stuff — the play takes place at Christmas so I’ve been hoping that it will snow and we can rush back and get some footage of the mansion in the snow. We could also re-shoot some scenes outside which would add more depth to the whole thing — the mansion is really beautiful and I think being able to bring the audience outside would be superfantastic. So it’s basically one of those “the more people buy it, the cheaper it gets to make and the more I can do” — so a 4 page booklet becomes an 8 page booklet becomes a 12 page booklet, and so on.

ANTHONY: I’m hoping the final 12 days of the campaign will bring in enough money to add that music in and some of those other extras. Last but not least, what is it about Ibsen in general, and A DOLL’S HOUSE in particular, that makes this work so classic and so long-lasting?

KYLE: The play is about a woman who undergoes a dramatic change in her perception of the world — she realizes not only that what she’d thought of as a perfect life — and one that from the outside all of her friends thought was perfect — isn’t perfect, but she realizes that the entire basis of society is wrong. She realizes that she’s a person and she’d been living her life as a possession. It was controversial when it came out because so much of the way society in Europe and America functioned was on the idea that women were property and that they had a role and a duty to play and people thought it was just crazy talk that a woman would do things without her husband’s permission. When it was performed Ibsen was forced to write an alternate ending where after giving her great monologue at the end Nora quickly recants — which is as silly as a Bowdlerized version of Romeo and Juliet where they all get up at the end and say “ah, the poison wore off!” and they skip away and Montague and Capulet throw a big bar-b-q for everyone in Verona. A Doll’s House only works if the play challenges, and is allowed to successfully challenge, things that are wrong with the way things are. So I think that gave it a good start; apart from being a very well written play. Another thing that’s kept it alive for so long and held it dearly in people’s hearts is that it’s one of a very few great roles for a woman to play. Theater is littered with plays about men, anybody can list a bunch of iconic roles that can make a male actors career — Hamlet, Stanley Kowalski, Cyrano, Lear, Willy Loman; there are all these great dramatic parts, but so much of theater is about men and the women’s roles in the plays are supporting. Lady Macbeth is a great role as far as Shakespeare’s parts for women, but the play’s called Macbeth, not Lady Macbeth. I think it’s very common for a lot of theaters to do not just one, but many consecutive seasons without a single play that’s about a female character. Plus Nora’s a really complicated individual who goes through a range of emotions that give an actor an opportunity to really show off what they can do.

ANTHONY: Thanks, Kyle!

You can still contribute to the A DOLL’S HOUSE Kickstarter. There are 12 days left. Don’t miss out on this.

Oh, and if you live in the Philly area, you can also catch Jennifer as another iconic female of the theater — Lady Macbeth — in The Hedgerow Theater’s MACBETH, which runs from now through November 17th. If you go, and get to meet Kyle and Jennifer, tell them Anthony sent you!

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Harry Connolly is the author of the TWENTY PALACES urban fantasy series featuring Ray Lilley. He’s also about to conclude a very successful Kickstarter campaign to self-publish a new epic fantasy series, so I grabbed the chance to chat with him about that and help boost his signal as the campaign clock winds down.

 

ANTHONY: You’re currently in the closing days of a Kickstarter for a new epic fantasy trilogy called The Great Way, and the project has an interesting origin. Can you share that genesis with us?

 
HARRY: This whole trilogy started as a homeschool project with my son. When he was nine, almost ten, I dug out a book I’d bought years before, written by a LAUSD elementary school teacher, that promised to teach kids to write a fantasy novel. It was also full of lessons on grammar, punctuation, word usage, narrative structure, and so on. Lots of work sheets. I wrote about it here: http://www.harryjconnolly.com/blog/index.php/a-special-project/

And my son being who he is, I had to do the exercises along with him.

He finished his “novel” (actually a comic fantasy about 10K words long) the next summer. For me, the book I was writing ballooned into three books and took me much much longer.

ANTHONY: You said that your project “ballooned into a 350,000 word trilogy.”  Can you give us your take on the tropes of epic/high fantasy and why it lends itself to books of such size? Is it even possible to write a “short epic fantasy?”

 
HARRY: I do think it’s possible to write short epic fantasy. People used to do it all the time, and some still do it now. However, I think modern epic fantasy fans prefer very long stories. At least, those are the books that dominate the bestseller lists.

 

ANTHONY: The Kickstarter for The Great Way has been super-successful. Initial goal of $10,000, and as of when I’m typing these questions, you’re at $36,000.  What are some of the stretch goals you’ve added in to enhance the project as that pledge amount has climbed?

 
HARRY: So far we’ve unlocked two stretch goals: Thanks to the enthusiasm and generosity of my backers, all three books in the trilogy will be getting covers by Chris McGrath. That’s a pretty big deal for self-published novels.

The other goal we’ve unlocked is for extra ebooks: one is a pacifist urban fantasy called A KEY, AN EGG, AN UNFORTUNATE REMARK (working title: The Auntie Mame Files). Basically, it’s an urban fantasy with a protagonist who is in her mid-sixties. I think the world needs more books like that. Folks can read more about that book here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1179145430/the-great-way-an-epic-fantasy-trilogy-by-harry-con/posts/628459

Also, unlocked is the ebook for TWENTY PALACES, which is the self-published ebook that kicks off the books (published by Del Rey) that earned me so many fantastic readers. Folks who are new to my work might be interested in that. And there’s some other work, too.

The next stretch goal in sight is an rpg supplement that would allow gamers to play in the KEY/EGG setting with FATE Core rules. I have already promised a FATE Core supplement for The Great Way, for folks who pledge at that level.

 

ANTHONY: What are some of the rewards backers can still sign up for, in the closing hours of the Kickstarter?

 
HARRY: Well, at $12 they’ll get KEY/EGG, TWENTY PALACES and the first book in the trilogy, THE WAY INTO CHAOS. At $25 they’ll get the two extra novels plus the entire trilogy. That’s three or five books, which is a pretty decent deal if you like ebooks. Gamers who play FATE can add $5 to get the supplement.

There are also trade paperback editions of The Great Way (which will have the McGrath covers) and a hardcover omnibus edition. The omnibus edition is for Kickstarter backers only. Once those rewards are sent out I won’t be making any more of them.

There are also other rewards like a fiction critique. And cookies.

 

ANTHONY: In the 1,000 backers Stretch Goal, you mention that your upcoming short story collection will include a new Twenty Palaces short story. So I have to ask, as a fan: after this successful Kickstarter, have you considered doing one to continue the ended-too-soon Twenty Palaces series?

 
HARRY: Sorry, but no, I don’t.

I know people hate to hear that because they love those Twenty Palaces novels. I myself am amazed at how devoted the books’ fans are.

But the truth is that Kickstarter, for all its benefits, is just a way to *start* working toward success. Yeah, my KS campaign has been astonishingly successful–certainly more successful than I ever expected–and right now the number of backers I have is climbing toward 800.

However, my real goal is to grow my readership to a thousand times that number, or more if I can. If I wrote another Twenty Palaces novel now, while my readership was still too small to sustain a series, I would never find the kind of success I’m aiming for.

I have ambitions, let’s say. I talk about it in depth here: http://www.harryjconnolly.com/blog/index.php/let-me-tell-you-about-my-ambitions-and-why-they-dont-include-kickstarter-right-now/ but the gist is that I tried Twenty Palaces novels out in the market and they came up “devoted fanbase that is too small to sustain a career.” Writing another now would be treading water.

Besides, I’m hoping that my new books will please those readers just as much, if not more, and they won’t mind missing Ray and Annalise too much.

ANTHONY: I’d forgotten about that essay, but I’m glad asking you the question might direct people to it who missed it when you first posted it. Speaking of posting: you published your son’s project on your website. Any plans to bring it out as an ebook or limited print run, as part of the stretch goals for your Kickstarter?

 
HARRY: There is! Above, where I was talking about backers receiving “other stuff” in that unlocked stretch goal, one of the things I was talking about is the comic fantasy my son wrote. It’s, you know, a novella written by a kid, but it’s very funny (deliberately funny, I mean) and I’ve already convinced fine artist and children’s book illustrator Kathleen Kuchera to make a cover for it. http://www.pinterest.com/kathleenkuch/my-art/

I’m a big fan and I think readers will be delighted by how bright and beautiful her work is.

ANTHONY: Once the Kickstarter is over, how can people who didn’t back the project purchase The Great Way?

 
HARRY: The current plan is to offer it as ebooks in All The Usual Places, plus POD editions. In fact, I plan to make the POD editions returnable and high discount so bookstores can stock it, if they want. I know there are a few Twenty Palaces fans out there who are booksellers.

ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

 
HARRY: Hah! My normal answer to this question is that I don’t have favorites and don’t believe in them, but I won’t do that here. Instead I’ll just recommend RED HARVEST by Dashiell Hammett. It’s a mystery and a crime novel and yeah, it’s nearly a 100 years old now, but the story is compelling as hell. Hammett may have invented a new plot when he wrote that book.

And while it doesn’t have the sf bling or fantasy magic, it does have one character, a flawed but Competent Man, who risks his life to stand up to corruption. The protagonist is tarnished but heroic, and my first novel sale came about because I was trying to translate the frisson of that book into contemporary fantasy.

 

You can follow Harry on Twitter @byharryconnolly, check out his website, livejournal, Facebook … and most importantly, you can journey over to The Great Way Kickstarter and help Harry reach some of those stretch goals … and get some solid fiction in return!

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The Role Call

The Role Call is another band I first came across on Twitter, and got to build a connection with. They’ve been featured here before, in a guest post they wrote about the Kickstarter they did for their most recent EP. We finally connected for an interview. Hailing from Minneapolis, MN, The Role Call consists of Joey Russ on drums, Kristoff Druva on bass, Joe Jorde on guitar, Max Young on guitar, and Steve Zerwas, who answered these questions, on vocals. I really enjoy their sound, especially this most recent EP.

ANTHONY: Hello, The Role Call! The last time you visited, it was in a guest post to promote the Kickstarter for your second EP. So let’s start there: how much did the Kickstarter raise, and how quickly were you able to start on the new EP?

THE ROLE CALL: Hey! The Kickstarter raised a little over $2,500 for us which was amazing and helped us put together such an amazing EP. We were actually able to start recording it a couple months later!

ANTHONY: What differences are there between the first EP and the new one?

TRC: The first EP was more of a safe bet, it had some diversity in it but overall it had the same sound and was more of an older feel to it. The new EP hits all sorts of bases with each song being completely different than the one before it. “Like I Do” is filled with songs that almost everyone can enjoy.

ANTHONY: Let’s talk about your songwriting process for a moment. How do you approach songwriting, either individually or a group?

TRC: It’s kind of a combination of both, we will write on our own and then come to practice and lay down the idea’s we’ve come up with and see what we can come up with working on that idea as a team. This was the writing process from our last EP and we might do something new this year when we go to write new music. We are a growing band both in fans but also in how we work together so the way we do things is definitely subject to change as we learn more about how each other works.

ANTHONY: Who brings what to the table, both in songwriting and in production?

TRC: We all bring a little bit of everything to the table. Each person is equally capable of writing instrumentals or saying “this would sound cool here” both in production and recording. I’m (Steven) also perfectly fine with suggestions as to the direction of a song lyrically or suggestions of lines that they like as well. A band is more than just one person so the music should be writing by more than one person, ya know?

ANTHONY: You’ve had some membership changes since the first EP, correct? Tell us about the new line-up.

TRC: Yes we have! Zach our old guitarist had left (on very good terms) to pursue other things and we fully support that. Since his departure we picked up Joe Jorde on leads and have been playing with him since. He’s a pretty unique guitarist, he actually never uses a pick and I thought that was really interesting!

ANTHONY: I wonder how many of the musicians I’ve interviewed can say that. The first single and video off of the new EP is “She’s All I Think About.” Where and when was the video filmed?

TRC: It was filmed partly in a studio in a suburb of Minneapolis and then the performance part was a filmed in a studio at the University of Minnesota. It was all filmed in a couple days. One in March and the other in April!

ANTHONY: The new EP also features “Indestructible” (perhaps my favorite track, tied with “Like I Do”), which features guest vocals from the incomparable Sam Miller of Paradise Fears. How did that collaboration come about?

TRC: We have known Paradise Fears for a long time and as we were writing the song in Nashville we decided it would be amazing to have some guest vocals on it. We started talking about who and then Sam Miller came up and we stopped thinking of anyone else because we knew he would be perfect. We sent it over to Sam and he was happy to do it!

ANTHONY: Is there a tour in the near future? Another video?  What’s coming up for The Role Call?

TRC: We are definitely planning on going out on tour very soon because it’s been a little while since the last one. We are planning on coming out with all sorts of videos, so be sure to look out for those in the future! Other than that, we are planning on writing a new EP and probably touring on that within the next year.

ANTHONY: I’m looking forward to all of that, and you guys are always welcome back here to chat and promote. Now for my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who has never read it to convince them that they should

TRC: My favorite book (Steven) is The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it’s definitely a must read. The characters are all amazing and it’s a very interesting book. I don’t read very often but that book captivated me.

 

You can find The Role Call on Facebook and their own website, and follow each member of the band individually on Twitter: @JoeyTRC, @KristoffTRC, @JordeTRC, @MaxTRC, and @SteveTRC or follow the band account @TheRoleCallMN.
Of course, you can also find them on their Youtube channel, where you’ll find this video, among others:

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I had a chance to once again chat with Bart Leib, co-publisher at CROSSED GENRES. This time, we talk specifically about how the company’s e-magazine is preparing to move into Year Two with a subscription drive, and we end with a very cool EXCLUSIVE announcement.

Front cover of the new CG collection

ANTHONY: Just about a year ago, you successfully ran a Kickstarter to relaunch CROSSED GENRES magazine. How has the first year gone?

BART: We’ve released the first ten issues so far, and the response has been tremendous. Version 2.0 of the zine has been very like the original run, in that we’ve strived to showcase typically underrepresented groups, and readers have really appreciated it.

And that was made easy because of the very large and diverse pool of submissions we’ve been getting! We’ve been excited every month to see lots of great submissions – I don’t think we’ve gotten through a single month without having to agonize over which stories to accept. And every month the submission pool has had great representation of PoC, women, and QUILTBAG MC’s.

ANTHONY: Every issue of CG features a different theme that plays with what “science fiction” and “fantasy” can encompass. What have been some of your favorite themes from the past year?

BART: We’re especially fond of the themes which are more open to interpretation, because authors know we love it when they push the boundaries of the theme’s definition. “Discovery” (issue 4) was particularly intriguing, as was “She” (issue 6). The upcoming issues, 11 (coming in November) and 12 (December) are the Favors and Young Adult issues respectively, and we’re very pleased with the results of these ones.

ANTHONY: Every issue of CG includes a New Author Spotlight. Why do you feel it’s vital to not just publish new authors but also give the readers an insight into their process and background?

BART: During the magazine’s first three-year run, we attracted a lot of new/undiscovered authors. This was partially because we’ve always been open to stories and topics which many publications shy away from. New authors are often more willing to take chances with their writing. The result is stories which push boundaries and challenge perceptions, which take uncomfortable topics and put them front and center.

When we decided to push for the funds to bring back the magazine paying SFWA-level pro rates, there was some justifiable fear that established authors would push out new authors from CG’s pages. So we established the New Author Spotlight: We guarantee that at least one story per month will be from an author who’s never had a pro-rate sale. We included the author interview so authors would have a chance to showcase why their story, and writing in general, is important to them – and how fiction can catalyze and alter public discourse.

ANTHONY: How do you decide on the theme for each issue, and what themes are you excited for in the near future?

BART: Our process for picking themes is myriad and opaque – even for us!

A few times in the past we sat down and brainstormed a ton of theme ideas. As of now – not counting the themes we used in the zine’s first run or the first year of the new zine – we have enough remaining on the list to cover nearly eight more years of issues. When it comes time to make decisions, we look over the list and pick some themes we think will balance nicely with each other.

We usually post them in 6-month blocks. As of right now, all the themes for 2014 have been posted on the submissions page  so authors can look ahead and think about which themes they want to write for.

We’re really looking forward to reading submissions to the current theme, Unresolved Sexual Tension. 😉 The Food issue (#17, Submissions in January) and the Flash Fiction Free-For-All (#18, submissions in February) will probably be very fun too!

ANTHONY: In order to see a second year of CG, the current subscription drive needs to be successful. What are the various subscription options?

BART: We’re currently offering a one-year (12 issues) subscription. The ebook subscription includes monthly issues, as well as the collected biannual anthologies, which collect 6 issues together and include original cover art.

There’s also a print subscription, which includes everything in the ebook subscription PLUS print copies of two biannual anthologies. (Unfortunately this is only for US residents since shipping outside the US is prohibitively expensive.)

We haven’t offered a lifetime subscription except as Kickstarter rewards, but if people want that they should let us know! 😉

ANTHONY: If people don’t want to subscribe, but would like to help the magazine continue, what can they do?

BART: Buying books is always good! We have two novels, a single-author collection and four anthologies currently available, in addition to the first biannual anthology from the magazine (Find Titles Here).

ANTHONY: And the cover of that first biannual collection graces the very beginning of this interview! How else can they help?

BART: Donations are also welcome, and can be made via the website (a button on the magazine subscription page).

Beyond that – help spread the word about the magazine! We need a lot of subscriptions in order for CG Magazine to become self-sustaining, so the more people who hear about it the better!

ANTHONY: Any other news about Crossed Genres you’d like to share?

BART: We’re very happy to say that our next anthology, after a delay, is finally almost ready! Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way will be released in late October. As a taste of what Oomph will be like, here’s a look at the cover and Table of Contents:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hat Trick” – Beth Cato

“Power Line Dreams” – A.J. Fitzwater

“Exact Change” – Christine Morgan and Lucas Williams

“Short Circuit” – Kirstie Olley

“Random Play All and the League of Awesome” – Shane Halbach

“The Writing is On the Wall” – Brian Milton

“The Breeze” – Mary Alexandra Agner

“Fortissimo Possibile” – Dawn Vogel

“Knuckles” – Ken MacGregor

“A Twist of Fate” – Holly Schofield

“Trailblazer” – Anthony R. Cardno

“Mildly Indestructible” – Jay Wilburn

“Blanket Statement” – Aspen Bassett

“Great White” – Brent Knowles

“Speak Softly” – Day Al-Mohamed

ANTHONY: Oh, hey, I see a familiar name in there! I’m excited for this one. And folks, you’ll be able to order it from CG’s website and it’ll help them keep the magazine running!

 

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Lawrence Block Returns

Posted by admin under authors, interviews

Lawrence Block,
the writer who never rests

I’m always happy to welcome previous interview subjects back to ramble on with me, but it’s always an honor when someone really well known agrees to be interviewed or re-interviewed. Today I get to welcome back the great Lawrence Block. You know him at the author of the Bernie Rhodenbarr and Matthew Scudder mysteries, among many others. He’s got a new short story collection out, so we chatted via email about it.

ANTHONY: Hard Case Crime just released the hardcover edition of CATCH AND RELEASE through special arrangement with Subterranean Press.  How closely did HCC publisher Charles Ardai work with you to choose the contents of the book?

LAWRENCE: Not at all, actually. I proposed the book to Bill Schafer, and made up a list of contents. Charles was good enough to offer his support and co-sponsorship for the book.

ANTHONY: The advertising copy for CATCH AND RELEASE says the contents are all short works that have not appeared in previous collections. When did the oldest story in the book last see print?

LAWRENCE: Well, remarkably enough, “Part of the Job” was published in Dapper in 1967—but I didn’t learn about it for over 40 years! The whole story of its publication and re-discovery is included with the story itself.

With that curious exception, these are all recent stories, all written in the present century. Thus they weren’t included in my omnibus collection, Enough Rope.

ANTHONY: What is the newest piece in the book?

LAWRENCE: Probably “See the Woman,” written a couple of years ago for the L.A. Noire anthology.

ANTHONY: CATCH AND RELEASE includes stories featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr and Matthew Scudder, correct?

LAWRENCE: Bernie’s here in “A Burglar’s-Eye View of Greed,” a newspaper op-ed piece I did for New York Newsday in 2002. Mark Lavendier published it as a deluxe limited-edition broadside, but it’s never appeared anywhere else. Matthew Scudder’s here twice, with “Mick Ballou Looks at the Blank Screen” and “One Last Night at Grogan’s.” These are the last two stories in the Scudder collection, The Night and the Music.

Catch and Release

ANTHONY: The volume also includes a play script. Was the script ever produced? (And if so, can you tell us a bit about the production?)

LAWRENCE: It’s the adaptation of a short story, and I believe it was performed a couple of times in Australia. And there have been a couple of Stateside nibbles, but so far nothing has happened—as is not unusual in the theater. It’s a natural for an amateur production—two characters, one set—so if anyone wants to stage it, all they have to do is get in touch.

ANTHONY: Are there any other Block (or pseudonymous) stories out there left to be collected, or have they finally all been un-earthed?

LAWRENCE: Well, only “Part of the Job” was unearthed; the others are all pretty recent. It would surprise me mightily if any more stories turned up from way back when, but the possibility’s hard to rule out.

ANTHONY: This is the second time Hard Case Crime has partnered with Subterranean to release a limited edition hardcover collection of yours. The STRANGE EMBRACE / 69 BARROW STREET collection is out of print now?

LAWRENCE: I believe so. The two individual titles are eVailable as eBooks from Open Road.

ANTHONY: Most of the Hard Case Crime line is mass market or trade paperback editions. Will we be seeing paperback releases for either of the Subterranean titles?

LAWRENCE: No plans that I know of for PB editions of Strange Embrace or 69 Barrow Street. As far as CATCH AND RELEASE is concerned, I retained both eBook and paperback rights, and have already self-published the eBook edition; it’s on sale even as we speak, and here’s a Kindle link.

I’ll also be bringing out a trade paperback edition any day now; it’s coming from CreateSpace, and will be widely available at Amazon and other online booksellers as well. Same format as the SubPress hardcover, same great cover art—and, since the hardcover’s essentially sold out on publication, a chance for readers to get the printed book at a reasonable price.

There an audiobook coming, too, and Dreamscape is already taking preorders in advance of a November release date. I did the narration, with an assistant from the beautiful and talented Lynne Wood Block; the play, “How Far,” needed two voices, one male, one female. And while she was at it she also voiced “Without a Body,” a brief monologue with a woman narrator.

ANTHONY: Since there’s a Scudder story in the new collection, I have to ask how filming for “A Walk Among The Tombstones” has progressed. Are they still filming, or are they in post-production now?

LAWRENCE: It’s in post-production, and I don’t know if they’ve set a release date, but I’m sure it’ll be sometime in the first half of 2014.

ANTHONY: You got to spend some time on the set. How was that?

LAWRENCE: It was fun. Liam Neeson was absolutely brilliant in the scenes I saw, and I think fans will love him as Scudder.

ANTHONY: I’m looking forward to that. Final question: What’s coming down the pike in the next few months?

LAWRENCE: A brand-new novel, the one I wrote this summer on a Holland America cruise. Don’t ask me where we went, as I barely got out of my cabin. I’m very excited about the book, and couldn’t bear to wait a year and a half for a traditional publisher to bring it out. So I’m publishing it myself, and we’ve settled on Christmas as  our release date.

Yeah, this Christmas. Christmas of 2013, which is like 90 days from now.

And, for the moment, that’s all I can tell you about it…

You can find more of Lawrence Block’s discussions of his writing on his website, his blog, his facebook and his goodreads discussion group. You can also follow him on Twitter as @LawrenceBlock.

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Brendon Eggertsen
photo by Justin Baker

Through my interviews with Sam Lant, Brandon Tyler Russell and Austin MacDonald and my friendships with their parents, I’ve become connected to a small group of young actors who have interesting projects (film, radio, television and charity work) to share. My latest interview from this “Burbank gang” is with Brandon Eggertsen: actor, radio engineer, aspiring stuntman and … monkeyman?

 

ANTHONY: Hi Brendon! So, let’s start out with the most obvious question: when did you start acting?

BRENDON: Age 10, while in Michigan. When I was 11, I competed in IMTA (International Model Talent Association) and got my manager from there. Julie Abrams from Dreamscope Entertainment. We moved out to California so I could pursue my love of acting, my siblings and dad are still in Michigan.

ANTHONY: What was your first role?

BRENDON: Take Me Away—played in a flashback of one of the main characters, I get beat up by my father.

ANTHONY: Who are some of your favorite actors / biggest influences?

BRENDON: Adam Sandler (he is so funny), Jim Carrey (he’s amazing) Brad Pitt (he’s a great actor) Tom Cruise (love how he does his own stunts), Will Ferrell (love his acting), Charlie Sheen (he is just cool)

ANTHONY: I have a lot of friends who are horror movie fans. You were in Paranormal Activity 4. Tell us a bit about that experience.


BRENDON: Loved going to set every day. It was a lot of fun and not scary at all.

ANTHONY: Are you a big fan of horror (movies or books)?

BRENDON: I am not scared very easily, actually it’s pretty impossible. No one has been able to spook me.

ANTHONY: Okay, so you’re not easily scared, but what are some of your favorites?

BRENDON: I do enjoy the old school Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm street movies.

Photo by Robin Eggertsen

ANTHONY: You also had a role in Adam Sandler’s “Just Go With It.” Tell us about that character and what filming was like.

BRENDON: I loved it!!! I played Arial, Keven Nealon and Heidi Montag’s son who falls and scrapes his knee. Adam gives me an injection in my knee and he slaps me across the face. It was great to improv with him.

ANTHONY: IMDb reports that you’re also in the cast of an upcoming film called “Pass The Light.” What’s that about, and what’s your role in it?

BRENDON: I play Francis, the school nerd. It is a Christian based film with a great message about making others happy and not judging because someone is homosexual, but loving people for who they are and giving everyone a chance.

ANTHONY: It’s nice to hear about a Christian-based movie that’s not automatically anti-gay. I know you recently took over as the sound engineer for the internet radio show “Beyond The Spotlight.” Did you have an interest in sound-engineering before you took the job, or is this something you’re learning as you go along?

BRENDON: Learning as I go along, but I really like it. I love music!! I am also a drummer.

ANTHONY: What personal touches are you bringing to BTS (music style, harrassing the hosts, etc)?


BRENDON: I love Music, I have a great connection with the hosts, Sam Lant is my best friend, some say we have a bromance. I will also have some funny side comments as I go along.

ANTHONY: Any projects coming up that you’d like to tell us about?

BRENDON: I do not have any current projects coming up but I also am a stunt kid and I am perfecting my fighting, falls, rappelling, trampoline, flipping, parkour, and freelining.

I am also a big supporter of the Gibbon Conservatory Center. I love Monkeys and apes and this is a way for me to hang with them. One of my nicknames is monkeyman.

ANTHONY: Tell us more about your work at the Gibbon Conservatory Center.

BRENDON: I have always liked monkeys and so when I got the opportunity to work at the Gibbon Conservatory Center in Santa Clarita I jumped at the chance. Gibbons are actually apes not monkeys and they are also the musicians of the ape families. Their calls are amazing and that is how they mark their territories. My mom and I volunteer. I work on their clean-up crew and docent (welcoming visitors, and answering questions). When I volunteer at least 20 hours, I might have the opportunity to feed them, which I hope to do. The center has 40 Gibbons and 5 of the 17 different species are represented there.

ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: What’s your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

BRENDON: I hate books and reading. I am one that likes to always move, so sitting down and reading is something I have never been fond of.

 

You can follow Brendon on Twitter as @brenegg, find him on Facebook, IMDb, on Instagram as btotheegg and his own website.  And of course you can hear him working the sound board for BEYOND THE SPOTLIGHT every Saturday at 10am Pacific time, with hosts Sam Lant and Mandalynn Carlson.

 

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Zach Bonner with dvds of LITTLE RED WAGON, the movie about him.
(photo credit:

I’ve interviewed a lot of talented teens for this site over the past 2+ years, actors (like Sam Lant, Brandon Tyler Russell and Austin MacDonald) and musicians (like Burnham, Hollywood Ending and The New Royalty) who are also motivated to give back to their communities through charity work.  Zach Bonner isn’t an actor, singer or artist … but he is a national personality now, thanks to the charity work he started doing when he was only six years old. Zach created the Little Red Wagon Foundation to help youth in need, particularly homeless youth. He’s now 15 and continuing the good work he’s doing.

ANTHONY: Let’s start with the story of how old you were when you first became active in community service work.

ZACH: I did my first project when I was 6 years old collecting food, water and supplies for the victims of Hurricane Charlie that was in 2004. In 2005 I founded the Little Red Wagon Foundation.

ANTHONY: I feel like more kids are getting involved in charity work earlier in life than they did even a decade ago, and you’re one of the prime examples of that, sort of a leader-of-the-charge. Why do you think we’re seeing this increase in youth involvement in charities of all kinds?

ZACH: I think kids and adults are realizing that kids can be active members of society.

ANTHONY: Your foundation’s focus started out on homeless youth. Is that still the main focus, or have you expanded to other populations and needs?

ZACH: Homeless youth are still the main focus. We do a lot with education, awareness and youth volunteerism but at the end of the day it all ties back into homeless youth in one way or another.

ANTHONY: Similar to that other wonderful charity, Blessings in a Backpack, you provide homeless youth with a backpack full of the essentials. But you also include some candy and a toy. Why?

ZACH: The backpack idea started when I was researching homeless youth. At that time it was hard to find many websites about organizations helping homeless youth. The one I did find that were going out and doing street outreach work usually had a list of items they wanted or needed to take to the kids. I decided to combine all the items that I was finding on different websites and put them all together into one easy package for the kids to receive. The outreach workers went out they could hand the whole backpack (sackpack) to the kids. In the process of my research I found that although they were meeting the basic needs of the kids they were not meeting what I call the kid needs. I wanted the kids to know that I cared about them not as a statistic but as an individual as a kid. We decided to put a small toy and candy in the backpacks. Through trial and error we developed the backpacks into what they are today and we concluded that a yo-yo was about as perfect of a toy as we could give. The development of the backpacks has always come from the feedback of the kids.

Zach with backpacks ready to deliver

ANTHONY: Good that you’re taking the actual kids opinions into account. I’m still fascinated by your cross-country walk. Can you share some of the personal experiences you had during that trek, and what you learned from doing it?

ZACH: The walk was an awesome adventure and a great tool to raise awareness. I met a lot of interesting people and saw America from a different perspective. One day I am going to write a book about my adventure. My favorite part of the walks was always interacting with the homeless youth.

ANTHONY: I look forward to reading it! You’re now fifteen. Your commitment clearly has never wavered. You’ve been at this for how long? And where do you see yourself ten years from now?

ZACH: I will have been at it for 9 years Aug 29th. I hope in 10 years I will still be helping. I have to make a living and support myself eventually so I would like to go to law school and become an attorney.

ANTHONY: In 2008, you said “Some kids like to play baseball and some kids like to play football. But I like to do community service work.”  Community service can be a 24 hour job, but everyone needs a break occasionally. What do you do when you need that break?

ZACH:  I like hanging out with my family or friends.

ANTHONY: The Little Red Wagon Foundation works in a number of ways to help homeless youth. What projects do you have coming up?

ZACH: I want to do my glass box project at The Grove in LA to celebrate my 16th birthday.

ANTHONY: How can people across the country get involved with the Foundation?

ZACH: Just check out my website, follow me on twitter @Zach_Bonner or look me up on Facebook. I am always tweeting about what I am up to.

ANTHONY: We have to talk a little bit about this honor you’re a Finalist for: The Peace First Prize. What’s the PFP all about, and how did you become a finalist?

ZACH: I am not sure how I learned about it but I am so excited to be a finalist and hopefully be a winner. The Peace First Prize will give me the opportunity to learn how to run my foundation better, how to be a better leader, and spread the word about homeless youth. It is like the Nobel Peace Prize for youth. Of all awards I think I want this one most because it will allow me to grow and give me the tool I need to do so. It is a huge honor.

ANTHONY: There’s a way people can help spread the word about the Prize and help you win it, right?

ZACH: There is a little misconception going on. The only way to win is through a very rigorous selection process. They do have an opportunity to help the finalist spread the word about the Peace First Prize and the finalist organizations. That is by recommending the finalist through a Facebook link. I encourage everyone to go and read about the work all the finalists are doing and sharing all of their stories with others. Of course I want to have LRWF featured in an article but I also want to support the other finalist and the work they are doing. We are all in this together and when one of us shines we all shine.

ANTHONY: Is there anything else I haven’t asked that you’d like to let my readers know about?

ZACH: There are over 1.3 million homeless kids in this country. The numbers keep rising. Some are homeless within families and some on their own. Never forget these are kids. They are no different from any kid you know. They need our help. They need your help.

ANTHONY: And my standard closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

ZACH:  I do not think I have a favorite. Right now I am reading 1984 by George Orwell.

 

Want to know more about Zach? In addition to the links he mentioned above, you can also hear another recent interview with Zach, conducted by my friend Sam Lant & his friend Mandalynn Carlson on his radio show BEYOND THE SPOTLIGHT. When you get to the page, click on the Archive link for the 8/31 episode (with guests Thomas and Brielle Barbusca, Dylan and Ellery Sprayberry and Zach Bonner).

 

And here’s the trailer for LITTLE RED WAGON, the movie based on Zach’s life and his walk across America:

 

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Anson Li

Anson Li is a singer-songwriter who grew up in New York City and has only recently made the move to Los Angeles. I became aware of him, as I tend to do, through Twitter and finally had the chance to meet up with him in person at the JerseyStock festival earlier this summer. This interview was conducted there before Anson completed his tour, so I edited a couple of questions to reflect that … because I just couldn’t bring myself to cut out all the nice things he said about his tour manager.

Anthony: So let’s start out with a basic question: when did you start performing? When did you realize that this was what you wanted to do?

Anson: Oh, wow. I’ve been playing guitar since I was five, and it’s kind of been my third arm ever since. I realized I wanted to become a performer when I played a lot of talent shows when I was in middle school, and it just hit me when I was maybe ten or twelve that I wanted to do this for a living. I always feel like I belong on the stage. You feel very connected with everything and it feels nice.

Anthony: And you’re how old now?

Anson: I just turned twenty.

Anthony: I always forget that. I know it, and then I forget. Because you have a much younger face.

Anson: Yeah, I look … I have the youth genes. I like it.

Anthony: So your new EP (“This Is Love”) came out how long ago?

Anson: It came out in May.

Anthony: How’s the response been?

Anson: Oh, it’s been fantastic. I think the first four days we sold 1,000 copies of it which is ridiculous. And thank you guys, if you’re reading this, for grabbing it, it means a lot. It’s been going good. I love the new songs, I think they’re definitely more mature and definitely going in a direction I want them to go in, so over time… I’m actually writing the next record right now, trying to figure out everything.

Anthony: Let’s talk a little bit about your songwriting process. How do you approach writing new songs? I hate to ask the question “where do your ideas come from,” because as a writer, that one really annoys me.

Anson: Yeah. It kind of just comes. Honestly, I don’t just sit down and say “I’m gonna write a song today.” I could be in the subway or the grocery and just walking around and I have to just run home and write it. It does depend on the room in my house. I’ve actually noticed this, it depends on the space I write in. For a smaller room, I write sadder songs and in a bigger room I write poppier songs. And it also depends on  how well-lit they are. I have this thing that I think rooms have their own aura, and I write my songs based on that. I don’t really sit down “Oh, I’m gonna write a song.” It just comes.

Anthony: The earlier EP, “Go My Way,” which is I think the first time I heard your music, (and man, “I Swear” still pops into my head unexpectedly and I find myself bopping along to it), was a bit more pop-oriented.

Anson: Yeah, well, on the new EP there’s still some pop songs like “My Leading Lady,” “All Night,” they’re pop-py. I grew up listening to bands like punk-rock like Yellowcard and I’ve been into that scene, and I always wanted to be in a band, but I just never found the right people. I left a band to do my solo stuff, and I was like “I’m just gonna do what makes me happy, I’m gonna do it myself” because I had the ideas and I knew where I was going to go. I’m not saying I don’t like my pop stuff. I love my pop stuff. But I think over time, it will get darker, but I think there’s always going to be gem of pop stuff coming in there.

Anthony: I think the terminology, I’m kind of melding it a little bit, it’s not that your newer stuff isn’t pop, or popular, it’s that your lyrics are taking a darker sense. I get that My Chemical Romance sense, The Black Parade, all about death and yet it’s a great popular song, people love it.

Anson: Exactly! I just wanted to write some stuff that was a little more to the heart, like last time it was like “First Kiss” and they’re cool songs, but they’re on the surface of things. They’re about things that happened in my life, but they’re a little more like when I was on the fourteen or fifteen side of things, and I just wanted to … you look at songs like “Press and Release,” and I wanted to talk about things that I haven’t talked about before. Because people have given me the criticism of “you write all songs about girls,” and I’m like “It’s true, but that’s been what my life’s been …” I mean, not like I’m a player or anything, but you go through relationships and you write about them. It’s all about relationships in life. Even “Every Time” is about my parents’ relationship with me. It’s … it’s about life and what you go through. I write about what happens in my life.

Anthony: Do you, and I’ve asked other artists this who have gone through changes in their style, do you feel or fear that you’re going to lose some of your older fans because they’re used to you being the “Sing About Girls” Anson  and now we’re getting the “Sing About Life” Anson?

Anson:  I don’t think so, to be honest. There’s still some ‘hit’ pop songs on the record. So I’m not really discouraged about that, and my live set is usually a mix between both of them. I kinda want to do what  Bruno Mars does. If you listen to Bruno Mars, he does all those hit songs but if you listen to his actual records, it’s like gospel. It’s not “God,” I don’t know really how to put it…

Anthony: It is. He’s very gospel-inflected, but does cover more serious subjects than “The Lazy Song.”

Anson: Exactly, and it has such a fantastic vibe to it, so I like that kind of idea. Having those hit pop songs that everyone sings along to, and then there’s other life songs.

Anthony: Okay, Devin wanted me to ask you…

Anson: Hello, Devin!

Anthony: Devin from Abnormal Interviews, for those who don’t know her. She wanted me to ask you … I love her questions …  “If you were to be a penguin for an entire day, what would you do with your day?”

Anson: I’d eat so much fish. I’d eat SO much fish. And I’d go swimming. Honestly, I wonder what it would feel like to go swimming as a penguin, you’d probably go so quick because of like the flubber and all that stuff.

Anthony: I’d have a problem with the seafood side of things, because I don’t eat it. So I don’t think I could be a penguin.

Anson: I love sushi, so no problem there.

Anthony:  So you just finished a cross-country tour.

Anson: I ended in Los Angeles.

Anthony: Just you and your guitar…

Anson: And my tour manager!

Anthony: Who has been posting pics to your Facebook page.

Anson: Yeah, He’s been fantastic, he’s a cool dude.  I wanted to bring him along because .. he doesn’t listen to the same music as me, he listens to more punk music, but we both have such a passion for music, it’s one of those things where it doesn’t really matter what music we listen to, it’s just the vibe and the creativity. I really enjoy working with him.

Anthony: It’s great to have someone on tour with you that you can share that sensibility with.

Anson: Exactly. He talks an earful to me about punk music, I talk to him about pop. We’re just intrigued with each other and it’s fantastic. Lots to talk about on tour.

Anthony: Since you mentioned pop music and punk, who are your biggest influences, and has that changed at all?

Anson: Yellowcard. Mayday Parade. Taylor Swift. Paramour. Suzanne Vega, which a random one, 1980’s folk-pop. I actually hung out with her, she played a free show at Madison Square Park, thousands of people, ridiculous. She’s kind of what I want to be later in my life because she’s been doing this for over 35 years, she has a kid, I’m friends with her kid, and she has a very stable life. And that’s what I want, I want to be able to do this for the rest of my life. So she’s a huge inspiration. Yellowcard was the very first CD I purchased and the sad thing is I only purchased it because it was so shiny. That was actually my reason. And then they turned out to be my favorite music.

Anthony: Sometimes you discover great music just by going to the store and saying “well, that cover looks cool.”

Anson: Those are the bands I grew up with, but everything’s inspirational. It doesn’t matter, because you take things from any genre, from any performance, and learn something.

Anthony: I find the same thing with writing. I write mostly science fiction and fantasy, but I read all over because it all influences.

Anson: I love science fiction and fantasy.

Anthony: And that’s probably as good a lead-in as I’ve ever had with a musician for the last question I always ask, which is: What’s your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

Anson: Since we mentioned science fiction, I’m going to pick a science fiction book. Ender’s Game, which is coming out as a movie soon. It’s by Orson Scott Card. He’s a little kooky, but I like his writing. It’s about a boy named Ender Wiggin and he fights these aliens called the Buggers. It’s a great book. You have to read it.

 

You can follow Anson on Twitter (@AnsonOfficial), find him on Facebook, purchase his music on iTunes, buy posters, bracelets and cds on his merch site, and of course see his videos on Youtube.

 

Since I mentioned it earlier, here’s Anson’s “I Swear,” from his first EP:

 

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Faustino Di Bauda

We all know how much I love ONCE UPON A TIME. A few weeks back, I interviewed actor Michael Coleman, who plays Happy the Dwarf on ONCE. That was the first of what I hope will eventually be interviews with all of #Team7. Here’s the second. Through Twitter  (@faustinodibauda) and Facebook I’ve had the chance to chat with Faustino Di Bauda, who plays Sleepy/Walter.

 

ANTHONY: Let’s start with the usual: what inspired your love of acting and where did you get your start?

FAUSTINO: As a kid growing up in suburban Vancouver I always loved live performances, plays, TV shows and movies yet I was excited and terrified when put on stage and therefore dismissed the notion of acting.  My 1st language is Italian and when I was young I often struggled with finding the words to express myself properly.  As I grew up I discovered I was quite good at sports which offered me a stage and I would perform and get recognition thru my actions. If I won they would cheerJ.  Sports were: running, baseball, rugby, football, wrestling and boxing. Wrestling was the sport I excelled at most.

It wasn’t till in my mid thirties that I got the nod for acting.  I got into a series of automobile accidents getting hit from behind on a Saturday and then again on the following Sunday from the side and later a year later hit again. At the time I was a self employed Stone Mason and due to these accidents my work was difficult to do, so underwent physical therapy to mend myself and in doing so discovered yoga.  Later I met a Swami at a yoga workshop who invited me to a yoga retreat in India. I wanted to go but was financially strapped at the time until one day as I was returning to my car after a doctor’s appointment I discovered my automobile was struck from behind and was a total loss and the insurance company purchased it from me and then I had money and went to India. That day at the doctors I was on my way to my car about 5 minutes earlier and was stopped by the receptionist to sign some paper work and if I wasn’t I would have been in my parked car when it was hit. A lot of things were going thru my mind at the time but something told me to stop driving and go to India so I did.

At the retreat I was feeling pretty good and one day at the ashram I was joking around with the Swami’s and one the Swami’s asked me if I was an actor which I replied no and then he said that I should become an actor. So a year and half later, more therapy, yoga, another trip to India and a bunch of meditation made the realization and took the steps to become an actor. So life inspired me to become an actor I guess J and started my training at Lyric School of Acting.

ANTHONY: How do you typically prepare for a character or scene?

FAUSTINO: First by reading the material presented to me by my agent, doing as much research as possible for character, show, movie etc., building the dialogue of the scene(s) auditioning for to memory, What is it about? What do I want? What are my obstacles if any? Relationship, emotional prep. Etc.  Building as much life as possible using my life’s experiences and If I believe it then hopefully so will you.

Sleepy….

FAUSTINO: It was my very 1st audition that my agent sent me out for TV and film. Met the casting agents, performed in front of a camera the scene, did so 3 times with different instruction each time. Later I was asked to wait in the hall for a bit. Later that day (20min), I was called in again and asked to perform in front of the Director and Producer where they asked me to do the scene 4 different ways and then said thank you. A week later was called in again to meet the other dwarfs minus Grumpy who was in LA and they taped us all 6 together in character which they sent back to Eddy and Adam I presume to view.  That was a Wednesday and I got the call from my agent that following Tuesday that I got the partJ

ANTHONY: What has been your favorite Sleepy scene to film in the first two seasons of Once?

FAUSTINO: The excitement of my 1st day on set ever for ONCE and my 1st ever professional day of work would have to be it. That was the scene in the pilot where Grumpy and Sleepy are in look out for the curse, I fall asleep and Grumpy says Sleepy wake up and then he rings the bell as the curse comes. Meeting Lee that night and him taking me under his wing and having fun doing what we do was amazing. My favorite Storybrooke  moment would have to be ep.3 s1 (“Snow Falls”) where I`m Walter the security guard who once again falls asleep while John Doe aka David goes missing.  Was another special day but honestly everyday on ONCE has its own magic and is always special moments as they`re so many of them.

… aka Walter the security guard

ANTHONY: I know from talking to Michael Coleman that there is a real camaraderie between the members of #Team7. Did you know any of the other actors prior to joining the show, or did the friendships develop after you were all cast?

FAUSTINO: The only actor that I met prior to joining the show was Mig Macario aka Bashful. The friendships did indeed develop over time working together and over time meeting up on and off set. Love all my cast matesJ

ANTHONY: Of course, after the season two cliff-hanger, we’re all anxious about whether we’ll see #Team7 and the rest of Storybrooke at all in season three. Adam and Eddie, the producers, recently said that “Storybrooke won’t be forgotten.” Have you gotten the call to go back to the set yet?

FAUSTINO: I would love to answer that question but my response is tune in and find outJ

ANTHONY: Well, you can’t blame a guy for trying, right? Haha You’ve appeared in a few other sci-fi/fantasy shows, so I’ll ask you the same question I asked Michael: are you naturally drawn to sf/f shows and movies? And if you are, why?

FAUSTINO: Good question, Vancouver has a long history of sci-fi/fantasy shows going back to X-Files so it seems to be what Vancouver is known for I guess. I like all kinds of cinema and shows but must admit I was a Trekkie growing up and a huge LOST fan as wellJ Why? Probably the fantasy portion of the entertainment is what draws me to the work.

ANTHONY: I’m also a big LOST fan! Now, you also have a feature film coming out in the near future. Tell us about SEVENTH SON and your part in it.

FAUSTINO: Yes I do. Looks like it should be coming to cinemas’ January 2014. I play a Innkeeper and had opportunity to meet and work with Jeff Bridges who is one of the leads in SEVENTH SON. Here is the movie trailer  and the IMDB page. I can’t really say too much about it but looks pretty good!

ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who has never read it to convince them they should?

FAUSTINO: Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella which is the book that the feature film Field of Dreams was made from. I love the story for its simple message of “if you build it they will come.” It represents to me the power of our creations and that alone should convince anyone.

ANTHONY: Thanks, Faustino!

I wonder who on #Team7 I’ll get to interview next…

#Team7, flashing signs

 

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Nick, Kyle, Ricky and Bree.
The New Royalty.

The New Royalty is another up-and-coming band hailing from the New Brunswick area of New Jersey. Comprised of twins Nick (guitar) and Brittany (Bree, vocals) Iafelice, Ricky Joyce (drums) and Kyle Davis (bass), the band has opened for Big Time Rush and played venues with Kicking Daisies, Anson Li and more. I caught up with them, for one of my rare live interviews, at the JerseyStock music festival in late June.

ANTHONY: Let’s start with an easy question. How did the band come together?

BREE: We all met at a music school about, how many years ago? Five? Almost six. They were here originally, Nick and Kyle, I joined soon after because Nick’s my twin, you know. I went to a few of his shows and I really liked and got along with everyone. Really well, and ever since then we’ve been best friends.

ANTHONY: Do you feel like your style has changed over the past five or six years? You know, bands grow and mature?

BREE: We’ve changed a hell of a lot. Everyone does from the ages of like twelve to nineteen or twenty. We first started out as a cover band, and we really enjoyed all the songs. It helped us grow as artists. And then we started writing our own stuff and since then I guess we’ve changed a lot.

RICKY: We haven’t put anything out since 2010. So we’ve had a lot of time to work together and  get tight as a band, understand how each other approaches music, and we’ve been writing together and then we’re going to be recording our first original stuff since 2010 this month. We’ve had a lot of time together to understand each other which helps a  lot in the writing process.

Anthony: So let’s talk about that, that’s a perfect lead-in. How do you approach writing the new material?

RICKY: We all have different strengths. And we all know that. So, Bree’s really good at melodies, and Kyle and I work well at arranging, taking someone else’s idea and arranging it from a rhythm section point of view, and Nick is really good at all-around just throwing a really good guitar part on top of everything, like the icing on top.

BREE: We all have our different strengths, but…

RICKY: It all depends on who comes to the table with something first.  She’ll come in with something…

BREE: It’s always different.

ANTHONY: So it’s a more organic method, it’s not one person is the lyrics, one person is the melody.

BREE: We all have those strengths, but we try…

RICKY: Like, I’ll try to contribute lyrics, and it’ll be a disaster. And I know that before we start.

BREE: Yeah, but it always helps. (Ricky laughs)

KYLE: I write music every day, whether it’s on piano, or bass or guitar,  and even if it sounds like crap, I’ll write it out on paper for later. And recently I’ve been working with Bree on lyrics. But honestly, it’s up to her to make the melody. That’s not my strength.

ANTHONY: In high school I took a music theory class senior year with Mrs. Castronovo and … I’ve forgotten everything I learned. And now I find when I try to write lyrics, I look down and I’m like “well, that’s a really nice poem.” No musicality whatsoever. So I can sympathise, Kyle.  Now, you guys are going back into the studio in August  …  but you’ve been playing some of the new stuff live, though.  The song you played today, and I’m really bad at titles…

BREE: Not This Time.

ANTHONY: Is that going to be part of the new album?

BREE: We’re hoping. We all really like that song. It connects well with the audience.

ANTHONY: Yeah, it seemed to get a really strong reaction from the audience. I was standing at the back and the energy was strong. When I come to shows like this, I tend to hang back and let the screaming girls be up front. (Something Dan Geraghty from Hollywood Ending still teases me about.) But if you can sell it to me at the back and get me moving … it’s strong.

BAND: Thanks.

Nick Iafelice

ANTHONY: Do you have any performances coming up in August or September?

RICKY: I’m so bad with dates.

BREE: We don’t have much because we’re really focused on writing and getting the new EP out. We’re playing the new stuff live, but we want to share it with our friends online. And we do have friends now  in South America who love us, and we want to do it with them.

RICKY: I forget the dates, but in September I think we’re doing a benefit for Autism.

BREE: We love charities.

RICKY: The woman who is putting it together got Kicking Daisies…

KYLE: Oh, that’s in October in Montclair.

RICKY: I know it’s us, Kicking Daisies, she’s trying to get Hollywood Ending… And then there’s another one in November, another benefit for a company I work for. We’re doing like three benefits in October and November.

ANTHONY: Keep me posted and I’ll tweet and post about it.

RICKY: Thanks.  Oh! We were selected to be on a Doors tribute album. So there’s two albums. One is just  bands. The last time we heard, it sounded like the possibility that the Flaming Lips were also going to be on it. That might not be current. So we did “Break On Through.”

BREE: And it’s kicking!

RICKY: It’ll be on iTunes and maybe in stores in September.

BREE: Keep an eye out for it!

RICKY: And, it’s like … you know Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist, just passed away, and this was all in the works before that. So now it’s like this weird coincidence that he passed and now this tribute album is coming out. And the second album is all famous keyboardists of the classic rock era to play the keyboard parts. So there’s Rick Wakeman of YES and the guy from Asia. So it’s going to be a big deal.

ANTHONY: Sounds like it. I’ll watch for it. Hopefully they’ll release it as a set and you’ll be out there with Rick Wakeman!

NICK: We also have the Christmas album. Our second one! We’re releasing another Christmas album. For some reason.

ANTHONY: Christmas music is popular. I wrote a Christmas book, The Firflake, about the first snowflake of Christmas and how the elves met Santa, and it sells a little bit every year.

RICKY: But, you know, every year it’s instantly marketable.

BREE: And it’s kinda helping us discover what we want to do, because you know, we’re covering songs that have been done several, several times. So we put our own twists on them, and it kind shows what direction we’ll be going into.

KYLE: Our creativity, you know, it really puts us on the spot.

Kyle Davis
(photo by www.andreawilsonphotography.com)

ANTHONY: How can you take something that’s been done a million times and still sound like yourselves. You mentioned being really into charities, and that’s something I’m into, too, so let’s talk about what charities you support and how people can help you support them.

BREE: I personally support food pantries and stuff like that.  And To Write Love On Their Arms.

NICK: We also used to work with this anti-bullying company called…

KYLE: Kicking It.

NICK: Kicking It. Trying to get kids aware of the harmful things that come from bullying. And there’s a bunch of stuff we do. There’s this thing called The Pajama Program, donating pajamas to kids who need them. We’ve done Make A Wish Foundation.

BREE: We donated, how much was it … $10,000…

RICKY: We were part of a big even that collectively raised like $10,000.

NICK: Our last charity was actually our CD release party for our last album. We donated all the money we took in to a middle school to help them keep their music program.

KYLE: It was actually my middle school, so that was kind of cool.

ANTHONY: Feels good to give back, right? I go back every year, I grew up in Mahopac, NY, and I do the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. And, you know, I could do events here in NJ because I’ve lived here for 17 years now, but it feels right to back and honor my parents, who died from different types of cancer, and my friends and family.

BREE: We did a show with the Cancer Society.

RICKY: We did a walk, yeah.

BREE: We’ve all been affected by cancer in our own way, so it’s something that’s important to us.

ANTHONY: Well, as a cancer survivor, thank you for helping out!  Okay, the last question I ask in every interview: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

RICKY: Holy crap. That’s a tough one.

BREE: I have one. And it’s not Twilight. (Band laughs) It’s still like a mystical kind of thing. I read a whole series called The Fallen. I think it’s good because it’s unexpected. I didn’t see the ending coming.

RICKY: I’m not a huge book person, so it took me a minute, but I remember reading this book called Mind Blindness. It’s a book about the perspective of someone who has autism, and the stereotypes and the labels attached with autism are not what they appear to be if you’re looking through the eyes of someone with autism, as far as what they’re capable of. It inspired me to go into special education, so yeah, it was an eye-opener.

ANTHONY: A life-changing book, then. Cool.

KYLE: I read when I have to. So in high school, I guess…

ANTHONY: By the way, comic books are also an acceptable answer. Just throwing that out there as a comic book fan.

KYLE: (laughs) I actually read this book, it was really interesting, Brave New World. It’s a futuristic book, and one kid is like from like a totally different culture and he really has to work, to hunt, to survive. And this other person who comes from a world where he doesn’t have to do anything. So they’re at different levels. And there’s “orgy-porgies” in there somewhere, so I’ll just leave you with that.

NICK: What, what did you call it?

KYLE: Orgy-porgy! It was very interesting!

NICK: I love it. (pauses) Oh, shit, it’s my turn. Uhm … Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess. It was really an eye-opener.

ANTHONY: You didn’t see the ending coming.

NICK: It made me interested in trying other foods, now I don’t knock other foods when I see people eating it. Made me more open to other people’s eating habits…

ANTHONY: Dan from Hollywood Ending’s answer to this question was Hop On Pop, so you’re in good company. Can’t go wrong with Dr. Suess.  Thanks for chatting, guys. Can’t wait to hear the new music!

 

You can find the whole band on Twitter: @TheNewRoyalty@OhWorditsNick, @kyloxx, @breerosemusic, @rickyjoyce. You can also find them on Facebook.  They are also of course on Youtube.

 

And here’s a video that’s about 1o months old, for their song “I’ll Remember You:”

 

 

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