Steven Long Mitchell and Craig W Van Sickle joins SciFiChick.com today for a Q&A! They are Emmy Nominated writers, producers and/or directors of over two hundred hours of TV programing, including cult classic The Pretender and the Syfy mini series Tin Man – the reimagining of the Wizard of Oz that remains the highest rated program in the history of the network. Huge Sci Fi fans, they got their start in TV writing on staff for Alien Nation and The Flash.
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 http://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. http://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 http://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.
Social media and buy links:
Connect with Steven Long Mitchell: Blog / Facebook / Twitter
Connect with Craig W Van Sickle: Blog / Facebook / Twitter
Buy Rebirth: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Barnes & Noble