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The Pretender/The Centre Chronicles

1These are pages from a ‘proof of concept’ one- shot comic I did with my beautiful and talented better half, the incomparable Jenna Busch, for a series based on the early 2000’s television hit, “The Pretender”.

Steven Long Mitchell and Craig W. Van Sickle, the creators of the show, are also dear friends and they asked JB and I if we could help them with some ideas for a comic series/ graphic novel based on “The Pretender” mythology. We were happy to help.

Jenna, (“The blonde Ms. Parker”), wrote a great, ten page story and I illustrated and lettered the pages. Steve and Craig loved it and the response by the Pretender fan base was fantastic… always a good sign.

Jenna’s slated to write the series once Steve and Craig work out all the particulars- which might take a while, since they’re the only two people I know who are busier than Jen and I.

View the original article here.

Jun 26: Radio interview with Cyrus

Radio interview with Cyrus

VBT Stop #7 Digital Book Today


Author Interview #274: The Pretender: Rebirth

April 23, 2014


dbt_rebirth Our interview today is with Steven Long Mitchell and Craig W Van SickleEmmy Nominated writers, producers and/or directors of over two hundred hours of TV programming, and authors of The Pretender: Rebirth (mystery thriller, 4.5 stars, 86 reviews) and the upcoming sequel The Pretender: Saving Luke  (to be released – available April 2014). Before we get to the interview, here is a brief description of the series. Written by the creators of the international, cult hit television showthe first two novels in The Pretenderbook series, Rebirth and Saving Luke, are edge-of-your-seat, mystery thrillers about Jarod, a child prodigy, stolen and raised by a Haliburton-like organization that exploited his gift for their disreputable activities. After his escape, this ‘ingenious Jason Bourne’ – a human chameleon who can literally become anyone he wants to be – rejoins the world that has been denied him for 30 years. While attempting to find his family, he uses his brilliance as an avenging angel for those being taken advantage of by the powerful among us. He does this while staying just one step ahead of his nemesis, Miss Parker, the sexiest woman on the planet who is hell bent on tracking him down and returning him to her masters.   Their multifaceted, love/hate relationship, driven by the emotional secrets at the core of who they are, fuels a cunning predator/brilliant prey, chase of epic proportions. Rebirth and Saving Luke are intricate, suspenseful and enthralling mysteries about one man’s exploration of life and love and the truth that captures and reignites the hit TV series for both loyal fans and new readers alike.
AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH Steven Long Mitchell and Craig W Van Sickle
After having written for, and received accolades from personal heroes ranging from George Lucas to Larry Gelbart to Stan Lee, and privileged to collaborate with varied and amazing talents from Stephen King to Vince Gilligan, Mitchell and Van Sickle have now taken their creative talents to the world of novels.  Their first two Pretender books have received rave reviews for their originality, humor, humanity and intrigue.  SCI FI CHICK SAYS… I thoroughly enjoyed this first novel in the series. The mystery and suspense build to an exciting and dramatic cliffhanger ending that left me wanting more. Fans of the show will definitely want to check this one out. And I’ll certainly be following this fascinating series. Both novels are available in print and e-book through Amazon and other major retailers. From Mitchell and Van Sickle:  We write for thinkers, creators, innovators and the curious who love to unravel a tale and enjoy the odd and unexpected, those who know life is a gift and want to share that in community with one another.  If you are intrigued by this you are one of them, one of us, and we are excited to be part of this global experience with you.
1. When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so? We both grew up sharing a passion for books and movies and television – any venue in which we could find a great story we were there. After college we met up and something clicked in.  We found we had the ability to read each other’s mind when it came to telling stories and exploring great characters. We have spent years honing that craft and everyday learn new ways to do it that we never dreamed possible.
2. What inspired you to write the Pretender Series of Novels? The Pretender was and remains the most passionate expression of our life’s work. We hope our feelings have been reflected in the stories so far — and the ones yet to come. It was inspired by two different stories we heard growing up.  One was the life of Ferdinand Demara a real life human chameleon who slipped form one identity and occupation to another staying one step ahead of the authorities.  The other was a CIA progam in the 50s and 60’s called the Genius Projectwhere the agency ran a special school for exceptionally bright children who in the morning had regular classes and in the afternoon were given problems to solve regarding things like ‘Strategies of Thermo Nuclear War.’ We loved the concept of a child who was so brilliant that he could combine both of the above ‘gifts’ – a hero whose super power was his brain and his heart. We also felt at that time, and still do, that in society no one likes to go out on a limb to change wrongs that are done to people.  No one steps up to do something to right those wrongs.  We wanted to infuse a heroic character with that drive to ‘help the little guy done wrong’ and hence,  Jarod.
3. What’s The Pretender series about? They are thrillers about the search for identity.  About who we are and what ties us together as human beings and at the same time, in many ways, rips us apart. If you enjoy great adventures with engaging characters that will mean something to your heart we hope you will consider reading Rebirth Saving Luke and the many more sequels to come fromThe Pretender Universe.
4. Tell us a little about your main character. Jarod is a genius prodigy stolen from his parents as a 4 year old, isolated from the world and raised in a controlled environment to best harness his incredible talent as a Pretender.  A Pretender is a genius with the physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional ability to literally become anyone they want to be.  A Pretender can read a book on neurosurgical techniques one night and the morning day suit up in scrubs and walk into an operating room and perform the technique flawlessly, without guilt, fear or apprehension.  They can do the same with a fighter jet, a nuclear reactor and anything else you can dream of. As a virtual ‘living computer’ Jarod performed simulation scenarios for events as diverse of how to prevent an airborne terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, how to prevent an accident on a space shuttle, or a teenage shooting rampage in a Colorado high school. After 30 years of captivity by the Centre, the Haliburton-like corporation that held him, Jarod discovered some of his simulations were turned inside out and the exact scenarios he had designed as preventative measures, were sold to the highest bidder and used for harm in the real world. Fueled by this guilt and determined to right those wrongs, Jarod escaped and now the chase is on.
5. What do you enjoy the most about writing? We love the creative process.  We love to tell stories and then put them into words and see them spring to life.  What we especially find so rewarding about the novel process is how it allows you go so much deeper into the characters minds and motivations.  With a character as unique and intriguing as Jarod and Miss Parker, it is an incredibly liberating experience. They surprise us everyday and we think they will surprise the readers as well. Our readers have described our novels as action movies, thrill rides full of heart and humor and humanity – which is not only a huge acknowledgement but one we strive to build upon and be worthy of everyday.
6. What was the hardest part about writing your book? The international fan base has been fervent and excited and can’t seem to wait for the next novel and the next novel after that one to come out and continue the series.  So we’d say keeping up with the demand for the stories within the Pretender Universe.   That and trying to find all of our typos (LOL).
7. Where do you get the inspiration to write? When it comes to the Pretender our inspiration comes from the fans and the characters themselves.  Miss Parker and Jarod have been waking us up in the middle of the night for years, whispering in our minds what they are up to and the stories of their journeys yet to be told. We were also inspired at an early age by some very strong influences; The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, Star Wars.  Genres and stories that turn real life on its ear have always appealed to us and with these influences and other, we liked that the quality bar was set so high.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors and why?  Robert Crais for his blend of humor, humanity, cleverness and style.   Stephen King, for being an inventive genius and his underuse of adverbs.  Dan Brown for his intelligent intrigue and puzzle-solving prowess.  Chuck Palahniuk for his bold creativity and great style.  John Locke for his prolificness and generosity with his knowledge regarding self-publishing.
9. What do you like to do when you are not writing? SLM – I love to cook and I also make wooden furniture. CVS – I love photography, to explore other writing forms, auto racing, and golf.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? Yes.  We plan to change the world of entertainment especially when it comes to the realm of reading. You see, our goal isn’t just to write incredibly great novels, but also to bring the concept of fandom to a whole new level in a global way. We are building a Global Integrated Fandom where The Pretender entertainment experience doesn’t end when the books do but continues between novels on our website and through social media that connects readers and fans together in a larger community of like minded people. Our website is the hub that serves as a an ever growing global community of fans that have come together not only to share about the stories, but to get involved in them, and in ThePretenderUniverse. We love to hear from readers, so feel free to drop us a note via any of our social media links and be sure and come and see everything we are doing at Thank you, Anthony, for hosting our interview on Digital Book Today.  We really appreciate this opportunity to connect with your readers.
Social media and buy links:
Connect with Steven Long MitchellBlog / Facebook / Twitter
Connect with Craig W Van SickleBlog / Facebook / Twitter
Rebirth: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Barnes &Noble
Original interview posted: 

VBT#6 The Russian Annex

Interview with the Creators of the Pretender, Craig W Van Sickle and Steven Long Mitchell Russian Annex An exclusive interview from the Pretender creators Steven Long Mitchell and Craig V. Van Sickle
Unexpected questions and even more unexpected answers. 

Q: You’ve spent most of your career writing TV-scripts. Was it difficult for you to adjust and become novelist?
A:  It wasn’t difficult, but it was challenging.  In TV you have actors and directors and many, many other artists to interpret your words and transfer those thoughts to film.   In a book,you have to do the acting and directing and set design, etc., with your words.  The exciting part is being able delve deeper into the minds and emotions of the characters.  
Q: Can you say that you have your own style or favorite stylistic means as writers? Maybe some of that came from the Pretender TV-show?
A: The best storytellers we have ever known always have a way of hooking you into their story in an emotional way,and then keeping you on the edge of your seat as the rest of the tale unfolds. 
We love to write in that way as well.  It is what defined The Pretender on television and what  continues to define it as we move into novels and graphic novels. 

Q:  Do you write together or do you split up the tasks? If so, who is more responsible for Jarod and who is more responsible for Miss P?
A:We come up with ,and break the stories together.  Then ,when we feel we have a clear outline of the story and character arcs ,we spilt it up.  Sometimes the split will be along story lines so one of us is writing the Miss Parker line as another writes the Jarod line – and other time we just split it up by chapters ,or in television, by acts.
We then rewrite each other and continue the process over and over until we cant tell who wrote what.  It is in the rewriting stage where the stories really seem to come alive. 

Q:  You have already made us more than happy when you promised that our dear Brootsie will come back. What other fan favorites might return – Angelo, Lyle, Mr. Raines, Brigitte, Mr. Cox?
A: You don’t really expect a straight answer out of us about that, do you? 
Just like we mentioned above about hooking the reader into the story and keeping them on the edge of their seats,we are going to do the same with the overall story arc of the novels ,and who returns and when.   
But, if you were happy about seeing Broots…stick around…there’s more to come. 

Q: How would you describe your characters? 
A:  They are all real people in real pain in an unreal situation that is their lives.  

Q: Is the reality of the Pretender black and white or does it include a lot of grey areas?
A: As in life for all of us, we know there is black and white, light and darkness, things that are positive and negative -yet we live in the grey area in between ,  always being pulled to the extremes.  It is the same for mythology of The Pretender. 
Q:  Are there any characters who do not deserve redemption? Or those who can never become evil?
A:  It would be difficult to find areas of redemption for Mr. Parker and Mr. Raines considering what they have done with children (though we did see a glimpse of humanity in Mr. R.  once – in Once in Blue Moon.)   Mr. Zane is also a character that may or may not be redeemable.  But redeemable or not it is important to us to find the ways in which they are complicated, real and in some ways understandable in the actions they have taken.
As for those who can never become evil – it would be hard to see Broots defined that way or Jarod – but in the world of The Pretender, anything is possible…

Q: Let’s have some fun now! You might have noticed that there are a lot of cat-people among the Pretender fans… Is it just a coincidence? And what would Jarod and Miss Parker choose as their pets?
A: Nothing in the Pretender Universe is a coincidence… including the surprise in Saving Luke about a pet in the Centre itself. 
As for pets,J and MP would pick – having been a lab rat most of his life, Jarod doesn’t believe in the concept of pets – or that one creature can ever really own another. In fact, Jarod explains his philosophy about that in regard to his relationship to Oscar the Harlem Rat. 
Miss Parker on the other hand has a very distinctive POV about animals – the ones she likes and the ones she loathes.  At the end of the day though,she will always have a special place in her hearts for bunnies. 
Q: What would Jarod and Miss Parker do if they made a trip to Russia?
A:  In the near term, if Miss Parker was chasing Jarod through Russia,she would be one step behind him as he traveled around experiencing some of the incredible history Russia has to share with the world.  She would just miss him at places like the Cathedral on Blood, and she might just find a ‘Jarod was here’ near the base of the The Bronze Horseman monument on Senatskaia Ploschad.
But, in the long term, after he has opened her eyes to the truth of her upbringing, if they were to find themselves together alone walking along side the Moskva River in Groky Park  someone passing by may overhear Miss Parker whispering “MoyA lyubOv’ ne znAyet granIts”. 

Q: Could you give us a couple of hints as to what countries Jarod has visited as a child or might visit in the nearest future?
A: We will soon be able to do even better – we’ll be able to show you.
One of our amazing fans is building an interactive map that will soon be up on our website that will pinpoint everywhere Jarod has been in both the TV show and the novels.
Including some destinations no one yet knows about  – like the time Jarod made a secret trip to the Ukraine as a child.   Original interview can be found here.

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