MY TRIP TO NEVERLAND

In  December of 2014, my wife and I took a South Seas cruise.

We boarded our boat in Valparaiso, Chile, heading for Tahiti. I was looking forward to the many stops along the way—Easter Island, Pitcairn’s Island—but the stop that changed my life was a tiny island called Robinson Crusoe Island.

It was on this island that a sailor named Alexander Selkirk was marooned in 1704. He lived here alone for four years, and was finally rescued and returned to England, where his story of survival became the talk of the land. Years later Daniel Defoe fictionalized the tale and called it Robinson Crusoe.

Today the island consists of one tiny port-town and a lot of wonderful hiking trails. My wife and I took one of these trails to the top of the mountainous ridge dividing the island, a spot where Selkirk would daily light a bonfire hoping for rescue. The hike was wonderfully rigorous, and at one point I stopped to catch my breath and gaze out at our cruise ship lying in the mouth of the bay to the east.

There was something weirdly familiar about this sight, and suddenly it dawned on me that 1) Selkirk had probably described the island to a London reporter who created a rough map; 2) the map thus created had in turn inspired Defoe; 3) the map that Defoe created in turn inspired Robert Louis Stevenson in drawing the map of Treasure Island; and 4) Stevenson’s map had in turn inspired J.M. Barrie when he was creating Peter Pan. This was pure speculation on my part, except that the proof lay before me: there in the mouth of the bay lay Hook’s ship, and later, when we topped the ridge of mountains, we could easily spot Mermaid’s Lagoon to the west and the promontory holding Tiger Lily’s village far to the north. I was walking through Neverland.

Robinson Crusoe Island is part of a small archipelago called the Juan Fernandez Islands, and the next thing that occurred to me was that Neverland too might be one of several islands in its own archipelago. I then began to wonder where Hook sailed when he wasn’t anchored off of Neverland. For that matter, how did he get to Neverland? I knew that he was a graduate of Eton, but beyond that his life in England was a mystery. What was his story?

Hook's Tale Novel And the seeds for Hook’s Tale were planted. This book, my first novel, is being published by Scribner, arriving in stores on July 18, 2017.

The 18th of July!!!

Hook's Tale

Hook’s Memoir: “Everything you thing you know about me is a lie!”

Fun fact: James Hook, supposed pirate and arch-enemy of Peter Pan, shares a birthday with me (February 23). The birthday of his long-awaited memoir, however, will be July 18, 2017.

In Hook’s Tale, to be published by Scribner, Hook tells his own story at last, exposing the lies behind what many people mistake as the true story of Neverland.

THE TRUE STORY:

Orphaned at a young age and press-ganged into Her Majesty’s Navy at the age of fourteen, our hero finds a map hidden by his late father which takes him and his shipmates to an odd tropical archipelago where Time (apparently) stands still.

There he befriends a boy named Peter, falls in love with a maiden named Tiger Lily, and hatches a pet crocodile he christens Daisy. But friendships can sometimes fall apart, true love occasionally dies, and nothing is what it seems in this Dickensian tale of transformation and skulduggery.

Everything we thought was history is turned on its ear, and the sympathies we once held for a boy who refused to grow up may now shift to a one-handed fellow who seeks the courage to face death, the original “big adventure”.

I discovered the work in manuscript form, and have acted as an editor of sorts, filling in those gaps in the manuscript that quite literally disintegrated over time or proved too appealing and digestible to book worms.

It’s a story for adults whose hearts long for the adventure tales of youth. Buy it July 18th, pre-order it before then (go to simonandschuster.com and then search under Hook’s Tale, or amazon.com and look under books), and return with it to Neverland.

The Scream

I scream.
Not like a girl. God knows. Please. But I startle very easily, and when someone or something startles me I jump and make a sound. And that sound, I suppose, is my version of a scream.
I don’t like to scream, but I feel better afterward. So, in a dark way, I do think screams are necessary. Healthy? Maybe. Yeah, of course they’re healthy. And that’s my excuse for wanting to make other people scream.
It’s an act of charity, to improve their health and make them feel better.
If they’re not expecting it, I feel guilty later. About two seconds later. But if they are expecting it, then it’s okay. I suppose it’s my way of playing god (small g). God (big G) makes us scream all the time. But I don’t want to be seen playing God (big G), and so I like to play god (small g) behind curtains.
Which is why I’m a playwright.
Which is one of the reasons I wrote my adaptation of The Exorcist.
At the end of the first preview, when I was standing backstage waiting to greet the actors after they took their bows, I could hear the audience screaming. With joy. Shouting. Whistling.
We gave them their share of necessary screaming.
We improved their health. We made them feel better.
We performed an act of charity.