What an amazing start to the day! My friend and awesome teacher, Sara Jacobs, brought my attention to an Instagram post (by @archers_all_stars); three photos with a group of students viewing my first film, an adaptation/fan film of Chris Van Allsburg’s The Stranger.
Original post: “Every year when the weather starts to get cold, I read aloud The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg!! Then, I let them watch a short 18 minute video based on the book!! Talk about 30 minutes of pure engagement and discussion!!! Love it!!! ❤️❤️…”
Moments like this make my heart sing. The book remains magical to me; it sparked my draw to storytelling and crafting narrative, which led me to filmmaking, writing a novel, and working in media production. So it’s wonderful to see the story continue to reach new students, and I couldn’t be happier to be a small part of that through the film.
Shout out to the rest of the “Stranger” team: Jenna Miller, Justin Moe, Devin Connor, Rob Engels, Katy Cox Engels, Brendan Biondi, Elizabeth Anne Taylor, Lorrin Rodgers, and Shane Hann.
Watch the film below:
I’ve been on something on a book hiatus for the past couple of years. Writing my own novel and trying to finish it probably had a lot to do with that. However, my lack of reading started to worry me; at first, I felt guilty, then I started to miss it. Last year, I picked up A Wrinkle In Time for the first time (in preparation for seeing the film), followed quickly by Neverwhere (my first Gaiman novel) since there was a staged production coming up near me. I rounded out this set of books with Robin Sloan’s Sourdough, and each of these books were fantastic, in their own, unique way. All three deserve their own book reviews (coming soon, I hope) and all three were delicious reading experiences. They suited me perfectly and, with their powers combined, they sucked me back into the world of reading. I found myself seeking a new book that would ring similar tones to Neverwhere, thus I landed on The Night Circus. It’s been on my TBR list for years. I can remember seeing it on a shelf in a local indie bookstore in Vermont back in the summer of 2012, thinking, I really should get a move on with this.
Immediately after starting this book, I said to myself, “I can see what all the hype was about.” There had been a reputation surrounding this book since publication, or so it seemed. It had given me pause (much in the way Harry Potter had done), and considering the inside cover sells the idea that this book rides on a romance, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Even when I carried this book out of the library, a girl passed me, doubled back, and told me how wonderful it was. From the first few pages, I could feel the strength of the story, and the control Morgenstern has with her words, with her craft. Even more delightfully, that sense of wonder and immersion continued through to the end of the book. I kept worrying that it would fall apart, that the book would run out of steam and turn out to be a dud, but it follows through.
Also, the audiobook is brilliant, spectacularly narrated by Jim Dale.
Verdict: I enjoyed reading this story tremendously and I can’t wait to see what Erin Morgenstern comes up with next.
It has been over three months since MAG Fest, but I can finally share something from that event; I was spontaneously interviewed for a podcast! Cris Alvarez, host of CrisAlvarez.com, recognized my cosplay, having taken my photo at a previous convention. He asked if he could interview for me for his website; ask me about my writing process and about the novel.
Listen to the interview here or click through the photo.
There need to be more events like the NoVa Teen Book Festival.
Everywhere, and as soon as possible.
“There’s a little bit of ‘geek’ and ‘hero’ in all of us.”
Even if I hadn’t heard about Rise of the Fellowship through the grapevine of friends and current and future colleagues, its likely that this film still would have crossed my path. I am a Lord of the Rings fan—both Tolkien’s literary masterwork and Peter Jackson’s cinematic adaptation (which I rambled on about just a few posts ago)—as well as a fan of fantasy and sci-fi in general and an independent filmmaker myself. However, I’m not generally a fan of parodies or spoof-style movies so I had some initial concern that Fellow’s Hip—as it was called then—was going to be something more along those lines; a perfectly pleasant romp that, while clever in its delivery, still just retold the same story with a different setting and vernacular.
I was delighted to find, though, that this was not the case at all. The film is distinct and entirely its own, which, truly, is its biggest strength.
Front and center confession: while I don’t claim to be a full-tilt Tolkien purist – I have not read The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales and it’s been awhile since I’ve wound my way through the Appendices of the Rings Trilogy – The Hobbit is my favorite of the material I have read by Tolkien. I adore The Lord of the Rings, but Bilbo’s story holds a very special place in my heart and, as such, it would be impossible for me to be objective regarding the adaptation of the book…especially when the 300-odd page children’s book is being adapted into not one, not two, but three films to be a companion series to the Rings franchise.
The Hobbit was my first foray into Middle-Earth. I know I’m not alone in that; it is, after all, the chronological first chapter in the story regarding the Baggins family and the predecessor to The Lord of the Rings. I usually consider myself one of the kids who transformed from non-reader to bookworm with the meeting of one Harry James Potter, but reading The Hobbit actually came first and embodies a personal literary landmark in my life. Fantasy is my favorite genre, very closely followed by Historical Fiction and Tolkien is largely to blame for that. I have a significantly greater appreciation for Rings than I would have if I hadn’t read The Hobbit first. I even remember feeling bitterly disappointed that Fellowship of the Ring shifted focus away from Bilbo so early in the story. I complained – quite colorfully – that I didn’t really care to get to know a whole new protagonist; why should I care about this Frodo kid? Why couldn’t we follow Bilbo to Rivendell instead?