Monday, November 13, 2017

Vlog Post with Nat Cassidy & Mac Rogers

Photo Content from TOR Labs
                                                Nat Cassidy                                                  Mac Rogers

Nat Cassidy is an actor, director, musician, and playwright. He has appeared on shows such as The Following (Fox), The Affair (Showtime), Red Oaks (Amazon), High Maintenance (HBO), Law & Order: SVU (NBC), as well as on stage in numerous productions and workshops both Off- and Off-Off-Broadway. Nat’s plays have been nominated for a combined total of 17 New York Innovative Theatre Awards, including 3 times for Outstanding Full-Length Script (which he won in 2009, and in 2011 for Outstanding Solo Performance for his one man show about H.P. Lovecraft). In 2012 Nat was commissioned by The Kennedy Center to write the libretto for a world-premiere opera, and in 2014 his play Any Day Now was chosen to be part of Primary Stages’ ESPADrills (The Duke Theatre, directed by Tony-nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel). He is also thrilled to be writing the novelization of Steal the Stars, which will be published by Tor Books in November 2017. 

Mac Rogers is an award-winning audio dramatist and playwright. His audio/podcasts dramas The Message and LifeAfter have been downloaded over eight million times. His stageplays include The Honeycomb Trilogy (winner of the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Premiere Production), Frankenstein Upstairs, God of Obsidian, Ligature Marks, Asymmetric, Viral, Universal Robots, Hail Satan (Outstanding Playwriting Winner at FringeNYC 2007), and Fleet Week: The Musical (co-written with Sean Williams and Jordana Williams; winner of Outstanding Musical at FringeNYC 2005). He has earned acclaim from The New York Times, The Guardian, Backstage, The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, New York Post, Flavorpill, io9, Fangoria,, Show Business Weekly, New York Press, and many others.

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (November 7, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250172624
ISBN-13: 978-1250172624

MAC: For me, everything started with Doctor Who. I’m 42, so I started watching reruns of the 1970s version of the show after school when I was eight. It was my first encounter with science fiction that wasn’t Star Wars, and every story was packed with thoughtful ideas. The reason Doctor Who has always been treasured by children is that no matter how scary the monsters get, you know the hero known only as “the Doctor” will find a way to defeat them in the end. And even before he defeated them in the finale, throughout the story he (he’s a she now, of course) would defeat their scariness by cracking jokes inches away from their talons and claws. And when he was done defeating them, he would jump in his time machine and leave for the next adventure. As a child this was fundamentally reassuring to me: a hero who would always have the solution, and be free to move on before things got too complicated.

As an adult I still love Doctor Who… but I’ve also become keenly aware of the ways it’s not real. Most people don’t think of the right answers in the nick of time. The “monsters” often turn out to have compelling histories to explain (though not necessarily excuse) why they do what they do. And the biggest difference between the Doctor and most of the rest of us is… we can’t leave. We can’t jump in a magic craft and disappear. We’re deeply woven into our lives. Sometimes we don’t want to leave. Sometimes we do but we’re afraid of the damage leaving would do. Look at everything Dak has to do in STEAL THE STARS.

So Doctor Who was a big influence on my childhood in one way, as a wish-fulfillment, but in another way as an adult, with an older and wiser understanding of the aspects of life the show doesn’t deal with. My stories are, in a way, Doctor Who stories without the Doctor in them. What’s left are people who can’t simply, leave who are struggling to figure out the right thing to do.

NAT:  I'm a horror enthusiast, through and through. I was raised by a mom who was a voracious reader of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, Michael Crichton, all the big pop genre writers of the day, and those books held a pretty vaunted position on our bookshelves when I was growing up. My mom never forbade me from reading them or anything, but there were two rules: one, I could only read them if I truly felt ready to handle them (and that call was up to me), and two, for every contemporary pop novel I read, I had to also read a classic. I think I was around 7 or 8 when I jumped in (King's Pet Sematary was my first pick) and I never looked back. I devoured every title I could get my hands on—specifically horror and especially Stephen King, Peter Straub, Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch. Best of all, there were no shortage of classics which could easily be considered horror, too, so I had no trouble following my mom's prescription. Paradise Lost, Beowulf, Dracula, Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, The Odyssey, Melmoth the Wanderer, The Monk, you name it. It was like finding the perfect salad dressing; I couldn't wait to eat my vegetables.

So, all throughout my childhood, through my teens and twenties, and still going strong to this day, in my wizened, venerable mid-thirties, I gravitate to anything I can find that's scary. In some respects I'm spoiled—I've read a lot of really good stuff, and I'm inestimably grateful to my mom for insisting I verse myself in the classics—but I have quite a soft spot for the pulpier, sillier stuff, too. As far as I'm concerned, every good story is a horror story at heart: fear is an essential element to anything with stakes, and stakes are the foundation of good storytelling.

Insofar as how my influences affected my novelization of Steal the Stars, then, I think it was actually a pretty ideal matchup. Steal the Stars has all sorts of weird, mysterious elements, but it's not a horror story per se. However, given that it's told from Dak's perspective, it is a story about someone realizing she's falling desperately in love, and there are all sorts of external reasons why falling in love is a horrible, deadly decision in her world. So, from Dak's POV (which, again, is how this novel is narrated), it actually is an absolutely horrifying scenario—these urges, the reality of her situation, is stalking her as mercilessly as an axe-wielding maniac. Even once that love is requited, there are all sorts of terrifying insecurities and suspicions she has to battle, on top of the equally-terrifying prospects of planning a heist and a getaway and facing down likely failure and execution. So, long story short, having a horror writer translate this podcast into prose actually works out quite well.

1. Gideon Media got our official offer from Tor in March 2017. I auditioned for/got the offer to write the novelization in April 2017. We started recording the podcast in May 2017. I finished the first draft of the manuscript that month, the second draft of the manuscript in June 2017, and had a hard deadline of July 31, 2017, for the final draft. Because the book was meant to be released around the same time as the final episode (which drops November 1st), and you have to build time for typesetting and even just physically printing and binding copies, there really couldn't be any flexibility. That means, from page one to final draft, I had about 4 months to write this bad boy.

2. My contract for STEAL THE STARS was for a manuscript of anywhere between 75,000-90,000 words. I wound up delivering them a manuscript that was 117,727 words long because I AM AN OVERACHEIVER.

3. Mac and I were both present for almost every recording as an extra set of ears. But during breaks, we'd each pull out our laptops in the booth and steal whatever writing time we could get.

4. I basically wrote the first draft of the manuscript in real time, as Mac was turning in new episodes. This meant there were some plot-threads and details I had to just make a choice about, in order to keep writing. The biggest incongruity I made while writing the first draft was I set everything on an island off the Puget Sound in the Pacific NW. I had a whole extra set piece in find for, like, a ferry escape and all the complications that could arise from that. But it turned out the manuscript was already pretty long and we wanted to make sure we stuck as close to the podcast as possible, plot-wise.

5. I play the character of Lloyd on the show. My fiancée plays the character of Lauren.

6. I have also written about 20 original plays, as well as opera libretti, screenplays, teleplays, webseries scripts—but I realized as I was writing this novelization that, almost without exception, every time I write my first thing in a new medium? It's an adaptation. Either of something I wrote for a different medium, or an adaptation of someone else's work. I think adapting something is a GREAT way to learn the ins and outs of a new (to you) style of writing, and it makes it so much easier to then start writing something else that's entirely your own.

7. Mac and I both write for a gran guignol theatre troupe that's been running in New York City for a number of years called The Blood Brothers. They put on exquisitely messed up evenings of short horror plays and they actually did a limited run podcast last year called DEAD AIR. Some of the scenarios Mac and I have whipped up for the Blood Brothers are best not spoken of in polite company.

8. Sometimes when STEAL THE STARS' director Jordana Williams would be working with an actor, one of them would ask a question or make a comment and I was sitting in the booth listening and thinking, "That's great; I'm totally stealing it for the book." I almost felt like a field reporter at times.

9. I throw several subtle references to Mac's work and my own work into the manuscript. Unfortunately, we've both ended the world too many times in our stories to have, like, a proper shared universe.

10. I'm working on two new novels now, one for which I actually already have several radioplay scripts written already. When we first started as a group, Mac, Sean, Jordana, and I would get together and read new scripts of ours around the Williams' kitchen table. I'd bring in a new episode of this story, Sean would bring in a new episode of one he was writing, and Mac brought in what would eventually be the first couple episodes of STEAL THE STARS.

1. The Inge Family, from my play Goldsboro: a family of irradiated mutants living in the middle of the deserts in the American Southwest. They're actually incredibly sweet once you get to know them! Look for a production of this play in 2018.

2. Mary, from my novel Mary: a quiet woman in her early 50s you've seen a hundred times today and didn't even notice ... unless you made her mad. She's a haunted house in human form and she's learning how to control her ghosts.

3. President Franklin Pierce, from my play (and TV pilot) Pierce: our most haunted president, driven close to madness by ghosts and alcohol. My version of Pierce is a bit heightened and fictionalized, but his real story is tragic and fascinating in its own right, too.

4. Robyn, from my play The Demon Hunter: a single mom who's dealing with the stresses of her young son being committed for thinking he can see (and kill) demons. She was very much inspired by my own mom, also named Robyn, who had to deal with quite a lot of demons of her own, raising me and my brother.

5. Beverly Colby-Parker, from my play Any Day Now: a small town politician who's losing her mind with ambitions for greater things. She really, sincerely wants to help—but she might have just kickstarted an apocalypse of her own making when her father comes back from the dead as a catatonic, harmless creature, and she catapults herself to fame by biting a chunk out of her own arm and claiming she was attacked. This play has been workshopped Off-Broadway and produced in theatre across the country. I wrote it during the 2008 Presidential Election, back when we thought that was as crazy and dramatic as politics could get.

6. Jeff, from my play Tenants, or, When the Hornet Arrives: he's the worst kind of murderous psychopath, the kind who feels sorry for himself. This play is being published by Broadway Play Publishing and will be available real soon!

7. Charon, from my opera Charon: the ferryman of the underworld. He's absolutely sick of the tedium of his job, taking people from the end of their life to the beginning of their afterlife. This short opera was commissioned by the Kennedy Center and written with brilliant composer Scott Perkins, and inspired by a story fragment written by Lord Dunsany (who's really awesome and an early influencer of Tolkein and Lovecraft).

8. Nat, from my play I Am Providence, or, All I Really Needed to Know about the Stygian Nightmare into Which Mankind Will Inevitably Be Devoured, Its Fruitless Screams of Agony Resounding in the Unending Chasm of Indifferent Space as It Is Digested by Squamous and Eldritch Horrors beyond Comprehension for All of Eternity, I Learned from Howard Phillips Lovecraft: I once did a one-man show where it was advertised as having someone else as the performer and I just *happened* to be there *that* night to give the curtain speech and a quick opening intro to the works of H.P. Lovecraft. The play never starts, though, and what follows is a descent into madness and horror and autobiography and a treatise on the healing powers of horror literature and, honest to god, we actually fooled the audience for a good hour or so that the mental breakdown they were seeing was real, every night.

9. Christopher Marlowe, from my play The Reckoning of Kit & Little Boots: my very first play was about a playwright being frustrated with life as a playwright. Analyze THAT.

10. Lloyd, from Steal the Stars: the novelization doesn't really get into this, but Lloyd is perhaps the handsomest, funniest, and most charming character in all of literature. If you don't believe me, check out the podcast and try not to fall in love.


Dakota “Dak” Prentiss guards the biggest secret in the world.

They call it “Moss.” It’s your standard grey alien from innumerable abduction stories. Moss still sits at what looks like the controls of the spaceship it crash-landed twenty-five years ago. A secret military base was built around the crash site to study both Moss and the dangerous technology it brought to Earth.

The day Matt Salem joins her security team, Dak’s whole world changes.

It’s love at first sight—which is a problem, since they both signed ironclad contracts before joining the base security team, vowing not to fraternize with other military personnel. If they run away, they’ll be hunted for the secret they know. So Dak and Matt decide to escape to a better life on the wings of an incredibly dangerous plan: They’re going to steal the alien body they've been guarding and sell the secret of its existence.

And they can’t afford a single mistake.

You can purchase Steal the Stars at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you TOR LABS for making this giveaway possible.
5 Winners will receive an Audio Copy of Steal the Stars by Mac Rogers.
5 Winners will receive Book Passages of Steal the Stars by Mac Rogers..
NOVEMBER 7th TUESDAY Reading for the Stars and Moon REVIEW

NOVEMBER 13th MONDAY The Literati Press REVIEW
NOVEMBER 17th FRIDAY Sabrina's Paranormal Palace REVIEW & EXCERPT
NOVEMBER 17th FRIDAY My Book Addiction REVIEW 


NOVEMBER 20th MONDAY Lisa Loves Literature EXCERPT
NOVEMBER 24th FRIDAY Here's to Happy Endings REVIEW


Post a Comment