Saturday, August 20, 2016


Okay, my opinion is not exactly impartial. But even I didn't expect to have so much fun at the premiere of Alias Hook last night at Louden Nelson Center!

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about Santa Cruz Parks & Rec Teen Theatre leaders Sara Jo Czarnecki and Darwin Garrett fooling around with my grown-up story for a cast of 12-17-year-olds.

But I was very impressed with the way they managed to telescope the book's action and themes in an early draft of the script they showed me.

And last night onstage, it came together with much more pizzazz than I could ever have hoped for!

There's a real thrill in seeing my characters brought to life before my eyes, not to mention hearing my jokes get laughs from the audience!  (Although, some of the biggest laughs were for funny lines that Sara and Darwin added.)

Sure, compromises were made. There's no flying, and no underwater merfolk community. The sexy Fairy Revels are replaced by a crew of cute flapper fairies doing the Charleston.

The racier aspects of James and Stella's relationship are eliminated (no doubt to the cheers of my readers over at the Republic of Goodreads, who are often shocked to find this is an adult fantasy, not written for kids). But Stella still indulges her fondness for wine!

And while James Hook's backstory is mostly cut out, the character of Proserpina, the voudon priestess who cursed him to eternal life in the Neverland, weaves in and out of the action, haunting him with his lifetime of mistakes.

There were other clever additions. I especially liked the moment when James, no longer able to play his beloved piano one-handed, rises from the bench, hand and hook moving over imaginary keys in the air, while the music playing in his head fills the auditorium.

Proud author with Aidan Brekka as Hook!
Most importantly, the heart of the story comes through intact — James Hook learning to give up the endless war games with Pan and extricate himself from the Neverland by finally growing up.

Much credit for this goes to Aidan Brekka for his brisk, commanding performance as James. He strikes just the right notes of sarcasm and despair. Sophia Alexander-Sidhom is poised and funny as Stella.

In the role of Pan (ironically played by a girl), Seyla Manzo is just as brash and bratty as she should be. And kudos to every single cast member, playing various pirates, fairies, Lost Boys and Indians, for making this show such a success.

After the show, Sara and Darwin presented me with this copy of the production's poster, signed by everyone in the cast! That was very, very cool, and I was also thrilled to meet a lot of the young actors down in front, afterwards. I said they were all great, and I meant it.

"Thank you for writing us!" They responded.

Seriously, I couldn't have had more fun!


  1. Hey is Beast still coming out in March?

  2. Let's hope so! Some confusion on that point at the moment, but I'll let you know if that changes.