Andrew Breitbart: Walking Toward the Fire with Righteous Indignation

Andrew Breitbart

Update: March 1, 2012. At the age of 43, Andrew Breitbart has passed away of natural causes yet to be determined. It was barely less than a year ago I had the opportunity to interview the man who fearlessly confronted and challenged corruption in the government and the media.

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I update this interview with this information.

Working mostly behind the scenes, Andrew Breitbart has evolved into the face of New Media conservatism. With websites like BigGovernment and BigHollywood, and prepping a handful of other Big internet ventures, Breitbart rocketed to public attention when he rolled out James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles' video exposure of ACORN.


Juan Williams: The Fight for Honest Debate

Juan Williams

"Political correctness can lead to some kind of paralysis where you don't address reality. I mean, look, Bill, you know I'm not a bigot, you know the kinds of books I've written about the Civil Rights Movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I've got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb, and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

If you have any interest in political news and hadn't heard of Juan Williams before October 19th, 2010, you certainly learned about him after October 20th. With the above statement, made on FOX News' The O'Reilly Factor, the NPR analyst found himself on the outs with the radio network he had called home, resulting in his quick dismissal.


Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner's Graphic Adaptation

Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner presents an eye-opening story of class struggles in Afghanistan, portrayed over the course of a few decades. After winning awards and being adapted into film, The Kite Runner, Hosseini's first novel, is has made the transition to the graphic novel format, available from Riverhead.

We shared a few moments with Hosseini to discuss this new form for his novel as well as some of the elements of his very moving story.

This is probably the first time I've seen a non-genre literary work adapted into the graphic novel format. How did the idea to use that medium come about?


Neal Shusterman: A Moment to Unwind

Neal Shusterman

Even though Unwind is well in the published past, relatively speaking, it was nonetheless the major topic of discussion during a chat we had with author Neal Shusterman, whose latest venture, Everwild, has just been released into paperback.

What was on the author's mind while penning this disturbing and thought provoking novel? Where do things go from its ending? And what else does Shusterman have planned for the near future? Read on...

Unwind tells the story of an American society where the two sides in the abortion debate come to a grisly compromise which basically makes abortion illegal but allows parents to decide to have their teenagers parceled out for parts -- or "unwound" -- if they decide the kid was no longer worth the effort. It was a bit surprising that both sides in the war that sets things off actually agreed to it, and it's akin to the biblical story of two women fighting over the same baby.


Dr. Steve Gerali: To Save a Life

Steve Gerali

Overlapping with National Suicide Prevention Week this year is National TO SAVE A LIFE WEEK (September 6 - 12), which encourages churches, parents and teens to start the new school year looking at the issues of teen suicide, bullying, depression, body image, etc., and to start the conversation to let teens know they are not alone -- that help is available. To better understand the issues of teenage depression and suicide, we talked this week to Dr. Steve Gerali, author of What Do I Do When Teenagers are Depressed and Consider Suicide?, as well as a host of other publications focused on understanding the problems of adolescents.

As regards suicide prevention, let's open with the classic question of Cain: Are we our brothers' keepers?


Frank Beddor: There's Something About Alice

Frank Beddor Looking Glass Wars

Here's a take on Alice that's rather novel: Alice is grown, and returns to Wonderland, only to find that the Red Queen has taken control and imposed tyranny on the citizens. Card soldiers roam the streets, and the Hatter and her other friends form an armed resistance, with Alice as their leader.

But it's not Tim Burton's new sequel, "Alice in Wonderland" (which, more aptly, ought to have a "2" appended to the title). Rather, it's the plot of a series of novels and graphic novels, The Looking Glass Wars, penned by the producer of "There's Something About Mary," Frank Beddor. With all the hype surrounding the movie, everyone has Alice on the brain -- so it was a good time to sit down with Beddor and chat about Alice and Lewis Carroll and Wonderland... and who better than me to do it? (Well, probably a lot of people, but fortunately the pool of potential interviewers was limited to the staff here at Critical Blast, so there.)


Brian Herbert: The Chronicler Heir of Dune

Frank Herbert is regarded as one of the few holy names of the science fiction pantheon of authors. His 1965 novel, Dune is the bestselling science fiction novel of all time. His passing left behind big shoes and a tall shadow, but Brian Herbert has been more than up to the task of carrying on the Dune legacy. Working with author Kevin J. Anderson, he has added over a dozen more novels to the history of his father's creation, setting up a tradition of New York Times best sellers in his wake.

With so many years of Dune history still available to be explored, is there any planned end in sight for the franchise?


Carolyn Hennesy: Pandora Gets Heroic

Carolyn Hennesy

Carolyn Hennesy is a busy person these days. Not content with her recurring role as Diane Miller on the long-running soap opera, General Hospital, she has taken on a role on the upcoming series Cougartown, and also begun publishing a series of young adult novels retelling and reconstructing the mythical Pandora that is being widely acclaimed for its humor and adventure.
I was graced with the opportunity to chat with the ever delightful Ms. Hennessy about Pandora, Cougartown, the near future of General Hospital and Hennesy's skill at the art of... the flying trapeze?
I've just finished reading the first Pandora novel, and I have to say that the idea is a combination of such genius to reimagine Pandora's story into a quest series, and yet such obviousness that I can't believe no one had done it already. Can you fill us in on what it was that caused the idea to bloom?


Ellen Hopkins: Sculpting the Words Behind GLASS

Ellen Hopkins Glass author

Authors often draw upon the well of their experiences as a source for their art. For New York Times bestselling writer Ellen Hopkins, that well is deep, dark, and painful. Through her verse-novels Crank and its sequel Glass, readers are taken on a journey into the world of a young meth addict, seeing through her eyes the impact she has on her family, her friends, and ultimately herself. It's an eye-opening story, and one that couldn't really have been written with the same vision had Hopkins herself not had to live the nightmare, when one of her children became addicted to "the monster" drug, crystal meth.

You've mentioned that this story is "loosely based" on family events. Does the writing act as an abatement or catharsis for what plainly must have been an extremely painful time for your family?


Warren Murphy and James Mullaney: Building a Better Destroyer

To protect the Constitution, it became necessary to break it. And so creators Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir came up with a man who could do what needed doing, accomplish the things which no one else was capable of. His name was Remo... but he became known as The Destroyer. A hero to many, a political nightmare to even more, the Destroyer novels have garnered a large and loyal fan following who have stuck with the character even through the lean years. He's a classic man of action in the school of such pulp heroes as Doc Savage -- except that where Doc was the head of his agency, Remo falls more at the bottom of CURE's food chain.


Bruce Campbell: On Making Love, Books, and Movies

Bruce Campbell

It's easy to be a Bruce Campbell fan. One gets the sense that he is what he appears to be: capable, hardworking, smart, with a keen sense of his strengths and limitations. The hard part is trying to figure out just how good he is at his craft, how good he could be, given the right role, the right script, the right director, with something bigger than a B-movie budget and a shooting schedule extending beyond two weeks.

Given that you had relatively minor roles in your friend Sam Raimi's mega-blockbuster Spiderman movies (the carny-like fight announcer in the first film, the boorishly obstinate theater usher in the second), did the inspiration for Make Love!* The Bruce Campbell Way spring from these 'small-role-big-movie' Spider-man experiences?

Yes and no. I've been in and out of studio films like "Congo" for years, so it's my overall experiences that became amalgamated into an original Hollywood tale.


Beddor Takes Readers Through The Looking Glass Wars

Looking Glass Wars Alyss Frank Beddor

I have a special fondness for all things Alice-related, and have amassed a small collection of esoteric items pertaining either to the character or her creator, no matter how tenuous the connection.

So it was with nervous anticipation and an awareness of the potential for disappointment that I began Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars. At its core, I realized going in that this had been done twice before, once in the cult computer game, American McGee's Alice and once in a comic book miniseries (I told you my collection was esoteric), The Oz-Wonderland War. However, within a matter of a few pages, Beddor distinguishes his story from either of its forerunners.


Neil Gaiman: American God (By Way Of Britain)

Neil Gaiman

An introduction of sorts will go here, for which I am completely and utterly far too immersed in Gaiman-speak to get into right now, for fear I'll present the whole thing up as some sort of unintentional parody. Suffice it to say, I'll give it the short introduction, something a bit longer than "Ladies and Gentlemen: Winston Churchill." And I'll probably be rather emphatic that the interview was conducted over the phone on May 5, 2001, for purposes of putting into perspective certain things like where the writers' strike talks were, and how this all fits into events surrounding the recent Miracleman brouhaha, and so forth. It will be a dandy introduction once it's finished, and it will actually mention, at least once, that the whole thing was done largely to talk about Neil's new novel, American Gods, which will be released on June 19th. So there's nothing really left but for the writing of it.

Which, oddly enough, it seems I have now done.


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