Author Interview #274: The Pretender: Rebirth
Today’s stop sent us to “Coffee and a keyboard”. We are happy to tell you that you can go read our special exclusive interview right here.
I am VERY excited to have the creators of the television show, “The Pretender” Steven Mitchell and Craig W. Van Sickle on Coffee and a Keyboard today!
For those who may not know the premise, The Pretender is the story of a child prodigy, stolen as a four-year-old and raised by a Halliburton-like organization that exploited his gift for their disreputable activities. After his escape, this ‘ingenious Jason Bourne’ – a human chameleon that 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 to protect the weak and abused, those who can’t protect themselves. 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 they share, continues to fuel a heated chase, pitting a cunning predator against a brilliant prey.
VL: Steven and Craig, you two have had a good run of interesting projects including writing for television, including Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Tin Man and a show I enjoyed very much, The Pretender. What made you decide to resurrect The Pretender as a book series?
CV: The timing was right, creatively and every other way. The loyal fans had been asking for years and some legal issues helped clear the way for us. Mainly though, these characters never left our psyches and we wanted to get them back on their twisted/humane/unrequited paths again, bringing them into the new millennium.
SLM: We love The Pretender and the characters have never stopped talking to us. They have so many more stories to tell and we are thrilled to be telling them again.
VL: Tell us a little about the books. Do they pick up where the series and movies left off or are they more of a reboot? Same characters?
CV: a blend of the old and a reboot, ala how Mission Impossible was updated. Same main characters, Jarod the Pretender, Miss Parker his tormented pursuer and Sydney his guilt-ridden mentor.
SLM: The characters are the same ages they were when the original series began. But the overall mythology has been moved into the present day – which allows the story telling to be much more involved.
VL: The television series had a fiercely loyal following while it was on the air, and no doubt the books will too. What do you think the main appeal of the show was?
SLM: The Pretender connected people. It spoke to something inside all off us, a hero in search of his true identity, who was willing to help others who couldn’t help themselves – including those who were hell bent on catching and returning him to captivity. Each character had both good and bad qualities we can all relate to.
CV: Originality. In all humility, we hit on a concept that was simply unique. Not quite Sci Fi, not quite reality. Filled it with emotionally charged characters whose individual stories fuel each other – intrinsically linked both past, present and future. And let’s face it, the basic concept of a guy who can be someone different every week has a wish fulfillment that was and remains an intriguing concept for a series of entertainment whether it be TV or Novels. Proudly it evolved far beyond just that. Thankfully the loyal fans saw what we did in the idea and despite the network and studio not having a clue about our show, we endured because of those loyal fans.
VL: As writers, are there any shows on TV today that you wish you could have written for?
CV: Breaking Bad, so original and gritty human, Mad Men, tortured souls in one of my favorite eras and I’m very into House Of Cards right now which is flawless on all fronts.
SLM: I agree with those three and also would throw in two BBC series, Luther and Sherlock – who, like The Pretender, was a high functioning sociopath.
VL: Switching gears a little bit…Star Wars!! I’m an original trilogy girl, but am excited for the new movies that are coming. You’ve worked with George Lucas…what are your thoughts about what you’ve heard about the new movies and how do you feel about Disney acquiring the franchise?
SLM: Meeting and working with George was the thrill of a lifetime and to be a footnote in the greatest mythology of the 20th/21st Century is an honor. I love the idea that the mythology will be refreshed with some new ideas. I too am an original trilogy fan but cant wait to see where the new team takes us.
CV: From what I’ve heard the next three will be a welcome event from the last three. I have no doubt JJ Abrams will bring great things to the trilogy while staying true to Lucas’ genius world. As for George, I have to believe he’s as excited as everyone else. A great guy. Working with him was a bucket list gem and I’ll never forget it.
VL: You’ve been incredibly successful as television writers, and worked on some amazing series, but obviously television and novels are entirely different mediums. How did/does it feel to make that transition and will you be doing anything else for television that you can talk about?
CV: Love the energy and turn around of TV. It’s the ultimate toy train set. But these novels have come along at a time where it felt great to shift creative focus to a new medium. To be able to dig down and crawl deeply into the character’s heads has been very cool.
SLM: And while Rebirth was learning on the fly, the second book due out this month, Saving Luke turned out even that much better because the experience has made us more adept in our crafts. As for TV we’re focusing on what turns us on. Fingers crossed, we have an upcoming pilot script we’ll be writing for a major cabler, and another really unique project we’ll be tackling soon – one that gives us that same gut feel of freshness and originality that the Pretender always has.
VL: And since you’re at Coffee and a Keyboard…favorite coffee?
CV: Jose Cuervo Coffee Tequilla. Not kidding.
SLM: No. He’s not. As for me, having grown up in New Orleans I have a special place in my heart for Café au lait made with French Market Coffee and Chicory
Social media and buy links:
They are the authors of The Pretender: Rebirth and the upcoming sequel The Pretender: Saving Luke(available April 2014).
Q: For those who are not familiar with the Pretender novels can you give us a brief description of the series?
A: Sure. Rebirth and Saving Luke are edge-of-your-seat mystery thrillers about Jarod, a child prodigy, stolen as a four-year-old and raised by a Halliburton-like organization that exploited his gift for their disreputable activities. After his escape, this ‘ingenious Jason Bourne’ – a human chameleon that 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 to protect the weak and abused, those who can’t protect themselves.
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 they share, continues to fuel a heated chase, pitting a cunning predator against a brilliant prey.
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.
Q: The books are based upon the international, cult hit television show, that your two created and produced. Do you need to have been a fan of the TV series The Pretender to enjoy the novels?
A: Not at all. In fact, former fans and new fans seem to like the novels equally if not more. We designed the story telling of the books in a way that there is nothing to ‘catch up’ to. The novels start at the beginning – but it is a new beginning – so the new fans are there from the start, and the old fans get additional information that fills in the blanks from their interpretation of the past.
Overall we think the stories have been so successful and entertaining because of the timelessness of the very compelling characters at the center of the mythology and their human connections to each other and to the readers.
Q: Who are the novels written for?
A: For anyone who likes a great story that will make them laugh, have them on the edge of their seat one minute, then sitting back and saying ‘what if…’ the next. We have said many times that 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 enjoy great adventures with engaging characters that will mean something to your heart, we think you’ll really enjoy Rebirth & Saving Luke and the many more sequels to come from The Pretender Universe.
Q: How did you dream up the concept for The Pretender?
The Pretender 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 program in the 50s and 60s called the Genius Project where 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.
Q: 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.
Q: What can you tell us about your main character, Jarod?
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, 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.
Q: Is it true that you guys spent two weeks at Skywalker Ranch working every day, personally with George Lucas?
A: Yes. Being invited to do that was one of the most amazing experiences ever. If it is something your fans would like to know more about invites us back and we’ll tell you all about it.
Q: I read somewhere that you guys are planning on changing the world of entertainment – especially when it comes to reading – and that you have designed your books to work in a transmedia environment. What does that mean?
A: 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. The Pretender Universe isn’t just about the overall stories – but about the fans themselves.
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 https://www.thepretenderlives.com 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, several characters in the novel actually are fans – our fans designed the cover of the novel – they exploring and building out the ThePretenderUniverse within the website. A very talented young fan that sent us some fan fiction – that was excellent – may even be invited to writing cannon of the mythology. The Pretender Universe is always expanding and we invite everyone to come be a part of it.https://www.thepretenderlives.com
In fact by reading this you already are. In all the novels and in the website and the emails and extras we send there are always hidden meaning and Easter Eggs. Including in the interview you just read.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: Yes. 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 https://www.thepretenderlives.com.
Thank you, Angela, for hosting our interview. We love SciFiChick.com and really appreciate this opportunity to connect with your readers.
Oh, and both novels are available in print and e-book through Amazon and other major retailers.
Original interview here.
In addition to the release of SAVING LUKE, April is going to be a HUGE month for the Pretender. Throughout the month of April, we will be embarking upon a Virtual Book Tour, making stops around the web, participating in podcasts and videos, answering questions, and hosting contests! Check back this website for updates. We will even be leaving some easter egg clues along the way! Finally, be prepared for the launch of a few new and exciting endeavors that will change the face of the Pretender. Be prepared to be amazed! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news… and remember, April is the month! See you then! Steven and Craig #ThePretenderLives
To: Steve Mitchell From: Craig Van Sickle Re: The Saving Luke Poster Any idea how this got out? To: Craig Van Sickle From: Steve Mitchell Re: The Saving Luke Poster No! And hopefully this is just a one shot. If we start seeing this in other spots we will have to release Saving Luke much sooner than we thought.
Editing Final Jon Gries Fan Videos (If I don’t get them done the fans will kill me!)