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
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Saving Luke: Links to follow when available