My good friend Joshua Reid-Davis recently text me to tell me he was reading the most amazing book entitled “GROUNDED: The Untold Story of Peter Pan & Captain Hook”. Anyone who knows Josh, knows he is a Peter Pan fanatic (and that is putting it lightly). So, for him to be so excited about this book, I knew it had to be something worth checking into myself. When Josh offered to introduce me to the author, Jorge Enrique Ponce, I jumped on the opportunity.
“Grounded” is a story about Captain Hook and Peter Pan but it could be about any of us. We all have those friends who mean so much to us but circumstances take them away (hopefully we find our way back to each other in a favorable way). Even as I type this, I am thinking of my own story and I’ll admit, tearing up a little. It can be painful when we feel we have no control over a situation or things get so our of hand that we temporarily (or permanently) lose a friend. I think this story will hit home with just about everyone when it comes to that.
I really enjoyed talking to Jorge over the phone while I was on a trip to Atlanta and look forward to meeting him in person on my next trip to LA. I think we will all be hearing lots from him in the future as well but for now, read our interview and then pick up the book!
Q: Fairytales have always been popular means of escapism. What were some of your favorites growing up?
Jorge Enrique Ponce: Growing up, Greek legends were my fairytales. Not sure why, but I was incredibly drawn to both Greek and Roman mythology. Perhaps because there was never really a bad guy in any of them… Because with each legend (and there are so many of them), you always saw a new trait in every single character; whether they’d be a god, titan, demi-god, or mortal hero. Sometimes they were generous and forgiving; other times they were brutal and jealous. I think that’s what drew me to them; they weren’t black and white, but showed a colorful display of the human emotion. Like Shakespeare, in a way. But in the fairytale department, in addition to Peter Pan, I’ve always loved “Alice in Wonderland”, “Rumpelstiltskin”, and “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”. Now that I realize… they are all pretty dark. I guess I like dark.
Q: What drew you to the story of Peter Pan and Hook?
JEP: Ever since I can remember, the concept of Pan and Neverland fascinated me. There was something innately heartfelt about it, but there was also a dark sorrow that lingered in almost every character, which always left me with a bittersweet aftertaste. For years I couldn’t figure out why, until, not too long ago, while revisiting both the original novel and “Peter in Kensington Gardens”, I found the source of this bittersweet sensation. The Peter Pan character, as we know it, is constantly battling a lot of pain and J.M. Barrie did a fantastic job at masking it. Of course from a young child’s perspective, you don’t see this pain – or at least you don’t understand it. Only when looking back at Peter’s story can you pin-spot it. There’s no mistaking it. We are talking about a boy who was abandoned by his parents; a boy who found icy bars blocking his bedroom window one evening when returning home from a trip to Neverland. The moment I realized this, I saw Peter under a completely different light. “Not growing up”, for me, got an entirely new meaning. It had nothing to do with physically growing up, getting a job, getting married, and what not. For me, Peter’s “I’ll never grow up” meant “I’ll forever run away”; it mean “I will never face reality” (of being abandoned, in his case). And of course, the last thing Peter wanted was to turn into “them”; into adults who abandon the ones they supposedly love. Which is why Peter dislikes mothers (until he meets Wendy); to him, every grown-up represents that initial motherly betrayal; that initial trauma. By “not growing up”, Peter shields himself from suffering; he doesn’t allow himself to love or fall in love, or to care for anyone else, in fear that the other person might one day leave him behind. It was so sad, I realized.
When I went back to Peter’s scenes with Wendy in Barrie’s novel, I saw a girl head-over-heels for this boy, and a boy who simply didn’t understand (or who refused to understand) love. It felt like I’d unlocked some huge mystery! An underlining meaning in Barrie’s story! Even though I later on came to realize I wasn’t the only one who’d noticed this, which made me feel a tad less crazy. As I saw it, Wendy was the only “grown up” in Neverland; the only one mature enough to understand “love” and other complicated feelings, and at so, the only one willing to get hurt. Everyone else, pirates included, had turned into children before my eyes.
With this in mind, a second mystery bloomed inside me; one pertaining to Hook, his backstory with Peter, and the fact that the latter was practically non-existent! You have these two characters who hate each other with such passion – but why? Yes, Peter cut the captain’s hand off and fed it to the crocodile, and there’s the fact that Peter always aims for good form, which drives Hook crazy – but all of that was never enough for me. There had to be something else. There had to be some kind of game-changing feud that pushed them apart to make them hate each other that way. And boom. That’s when imagination hit me like a mallet. This unexpected mystery is what inspired me to dig for more; what fueled me. It became a game of “What if…?” What if… if indeed something had pushed them apart? What if… they were once friends? Really close friends; brothers even? The stories sprouting from the original Peter Pan classic are endless. There are so many sequels, Tinker Bell spinoffs, prequels… I’ve come across several that gave Hook a backstory, or even placed the captain as an older brother figure for Peter, but none that moved me the way the original novel did. I think that’s what did it for me. I needed that missing piece. I didn’t want to create another Peter Pan version, or something that felt like a Peter Pan alternate universe. I wanted to grab the original canon and build on it, fill in the gaps, and at the same time, force it to grow up, to face its darkness; which is why this story takes place before “Peter Pan” as we know it, during, and after.
JEP: Definitely a labor of love. It’s a tale of two best friends who, when faced with abandonment, grow scared and fall apart. There’s something magical about it. It’s a story everyone can relate to. We’ve all had that one friend, if not several, who we’ve either lost touch with, or have had a falling out of some sort, and, when looking back, you can’t help but think: “I wonder what he or she is up to? Hope she or he is doing well” and whatnot. And I believe that’s why “GROUNDED” is so bittersweet; it’s a story about friendship, a story about never forgetting, and a story about loss.
I love origin stories, especially those that deal with disintegrated friendships. It makes the antagonism so much more powerful. You don’t hate strangers or people you barely know. If you really despise someone, chances are, at some point you loved them. You have Moses and Ramses. Professor X and Magneto. The catharsis produced by exploring how friends become foes is beautiful. Heartbreaking even. At least to me.
I also thought it was extremely important to de-villanize (is that word? Just made up a word) Hook – to remove that stigma of “he’s evil for the sake of being evil”. I don’t think there’s “good people” and “bad people”. I feel we all make good and bad choices at different given points in life and it’s just a matter of putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand them; you don’t have to agree with them, but you can understand them. I love that a lot of big shows and movies are doing that now, such as “Dexter”, “Breaking Bad”, “Wicked”, “Maleficent”, “Frozen” – I think we currently lack that, empathy as a society, and it’s something we need a lot of.
Q: What reactions have you received from people who have read “Grounded”?
JEP: They vary from person to person, but overall, they seem to leave the reader with a deep sense of nostalgia, which I think is wonderful. The first person who finished it is, in fact, a good friend of mine from Peru. It was a Saturday and this unexpected email popped up in my inbox. I must’ve read the thing at least ten times because I simply couldn’t grasp what it was saying. The book had moved him in such a visceral way, that he couldn’t help himself and had to type up an email in the middle of the night, right after finishing it. Had it been someone else, I would’ve just told myself “Oh, he’s being nice, he’s supporting you because he’s your friend”, but that wasn’t the case. He’s read my previous work and has always been honest about it; supportive, but honest. His reaction to “GROUNDED” was something I had never expected. This has also been the case with other non-Peter fans. However, it’s when a true Peter Pan fan tells you he’s in love with the story and that he or she has been able to connect with a tale they’ve loved since childhood on a much deeper level, that’s when I feel that maybe (just maybe) I may have done something right. And that feeling—it’s just—incredible. It truly feels like flying…
Q: Where can people go to buy the book?
JEP: “GROUNDED” is available on both Kindle and paperback (would strongly suggest the paperback, as it’s beautifully illustrated by Nick Perlman, and the cover design is just gorgeous) at Amazon.com. I believe Barnes & Nobles also carries the book in their online store and you can request it for in-store delivery, but I’m sure you can get a better deal from Amazon.
Q: Where can we find you online?
JEP: I’m all over the web! The Goo website for updates on upcoming projects (whether they are short movies or books): goofactory.tv
Facebook/Twitter page for updates in general:
And Instagram for updates on what I’m currently reading, food, and my dogs, and what not: eyedrip
Q: What’s up next for you?
JEP: Currently working on my third book! I’m taking my time on this one. It’s titled “F*KTORY” and I actually included the first chapter at the end of “GROUNDED”, as a sneak peak / bonus feature treat. It’s completely unlike the fairytale, but most of the characters are also teenagers. In a nutshell, it’s about “E”, a 14-year-old drug dealer who puts her own life at risk to try and save her baby brother from the life she was brought up in. She’s the ultimate underdog and anti-hero. And there are superpowers involved. But it’s not your usual superhero story – not even close. It’s grungy, gritty, and it’s dark. I’m really excited to share it with everyone!
When I heard that Rose M. Brate had written her first book, My Promise to You, I was very interested to learn more about it. Rose and I have been following each other on Twitter for a long time now and I have always enjoyed our interactions. Her journey to becoming an author will probably hit a chord with many people. Rose grew up in the small town of Williamsburg, Ohio and had always written but just didn’t know she would some day be a published author.
I love that her journey started out as more or less a hobby and progressed into something much larger. By allowing her writing to lead her, she arrived at a place where she fits quite naturally. That place is where she was able to introduce the world to the love story of Marie and Tim. Their story is bound to strike a chord with many of us or maybe even cause us wish we had what they had. Either way, I am confident you will enjoy the ride. Let me introduce you to Rose and allow her to tell the story and the story of ‘My Promise to You.’
Q: Have you always been interested in writing?
A: No. Although I’ve always kept a journal through out most of my life, I never once gave much thought to writing a book. I dabbled a bit in short stories posting them back and forth with my mom for fun. You can only imagine how crazy those stories got. A very dear friend of mine planted the seed, asking me to write a bedtime story. Once I started I just couldn’t seem to stop.
Q: Being from a small town, do you find there are advantages over someone from a big city when it comes to imagination and writing?
A: Absolutely not. I think every person holds a story. I think it depends which part of the imagination you write it from. The best part of fiction is you can write about anything and in a book it makes it real. So small town or big city it doesn’t matter. Dream and put it to paper.
Q: Tell me a little about the main characters in the book, Marie and Tim. Have they lived in your head for a long time or did you just come up with them?
A: Marie is a strong independent woman who takes care of herself. She is self employed and strong willed. So the idea of falling in love (or having these feelings) for her best friend is difficult for her. But once she decides to let go and let her feeling be known she goes after Tim and the love she so desperately wants with a vengeance.
She’s lived in my head for quite sometime. Although she is a fictional character she slightly resembles myself. I am self employed, have been since 1999 in the trucking (construction) industry like Marie. I poured a lot of myself into her character making her very easy to write about.
Tim, although not self employed, is a strong person as well. He’s strong, independent, extremely handsome, and funny. You know everything a gal looks for in the perfect man. Well if a perfect man exists. Everything about him is fiction. I think he’s lived in my head and in every girl in the world’s mind since Barbie married Ken.
Q: With the huge success of work like ‘Twilight’ and ’50 Shades of Grey’ it seems as though the relatively unknown authors are just soaring these days. Did the success of these books give you hope for your own work to be seen?
A: Now that you mention it I happen to love Twilight.. I even went as far as flying to Vancouver, Canada to see the filming of Eclipse. The Twilight Saga was the first complete series of books I had ever read. I love it.
The joke around my house is “look out Stephanie Meyer, here comes Rose Brate”. But in all seriousness I love her writing.
Sorry back to your question. Yes. It gives me great hope.
Q: What is a typical day like for you when you are writing? How do you juggle home and work?
A: A typical day of writing for me.. That’s a good question. My son just graduated from high school, so that has opened up some free time for me to write. However, for this book I worked through the day and wrote at night. Any chance I got, any free time I was blessed with I wrote. If I found I had some free time in my work day I would be jotting down ideas and notes for the book. What little sleep I did get usually brought on great ideas for the book.
Q: What’s up next for Rose M. Brate?
A: I am currently writing a sequel to the first book. I’ve been setting up book signings for “My Promise To You”. I’m so excited to get out there and meet my readers. I’m hoping to get the book circulated and sold so I can make the best sellers list. A gal can dream can’t she? I mean who would have thought I’d actually write a book? And people would actually read it? I love it. I’m a true romantic at heart and I love writing about it.
Take a moment to visit her site and purchase the book and be sure to look for Rose on her book tour!
Diego Valdez is truly a multi-talented artist. If you know his drawings, you know there is something haunting about them. In every piece, the eyes are drawn in such a way that you feel the subject could actually come to life right in front of you. I have been truly honored to be on the receiving end of many tweets with new work from Diego and extremely privileged to have had the chance to interview him for this article.
During the process of our interview, I learned so much about a man that I mostly saw as an graphic artist. The creative talent runs so deeply that one outlet is not enough for Diego to express himself. He has as many facets as his palet has colors, and has been honored in every field he has blessed with his participation.
If you are not familiar with his work, you will be pleasantly surprised at what you find. If you are familiar with his work, you know how lucky we are to be a part of his sharing circle.
Diego’s work has been chosen to appear in Times Square in NYC this summer as part of the Artists Wanted exhibit and that is no small achievement. If you are in the area, I suggest you stop by and be amazed.
Q: Is there anything you can’t do? Model, Actor, Author, Painter, Graphic Artist, Designer, Poet… Did I miss any? Which is your favorite?
A: I am screenwriter too, its actually one of the things I can do better. I got a degree in creating scenario grammatical, character description and storyline for TV and film.
Yes, there are lots of things I can’t do. My mind, it’s always in other world. For example I can’t find the focus when I am driving a car. By far I am the worst driver ever
Q: I have been very lucky to see so much of your artwork. Where does your inspiration come from? How do make your work so unique? Each piece has a haunting quality, like it could come to life.
A: I am very lucky to find people like you. Really I am so thankful about it .
My art, it’s a message – an inviting message with the goal to inspire others. To get everything, and believe In the power of the passion, the dedication and the hard work – never give up. My first inspiration to draw is the goal to make a drawing able to talk or tell an story just with the glance. I work hard on the eyes of my drawings. It’s the point of connection with the soul *The Eyes*. I have created my own technique.
I do not work over pictures I develop Original drawings. My drawings come from my imagination. I am colorblind, in fact I don’t know all the colors. I have problems finding the difference between yellow and green and maybe that’s where the cool colors in the background and in my
artwork come from.
I am an animal lover, and for example, I have finished more than 17 eagle drawings this year just with the intention to inspire everybody to believe and fly – the message, it’s more powerful than the drawing
Q: Tell me a little about Bella B n’ the 17 nights. How did you get involved in telling stories for kids?
A: Bella B, well, it’s in fact a tale dedicated to my daughter Isabella and that is why I am writing for kids now – because of My 2 year old baby girl, Isabella Valdez.
And to find connection with the human being its necessary to touch the little inner kid inside all of us. We are all still kids and that’s why I really love to write, to draw and to create for kids !!! Because of the kids we are.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into any of the fields you have been successful in? Are there any secrets?
A: The secret is to believe, Respect everybody as a human being, follow your feelings, and an artist can’t stop to develop and create things every single day – don’t think about money. Don’t think about fame. These things are the consequence of passion and love for what you do in life.
Q: You are obviously very accomplished in the arts. Were you always interested in the artistic side of life?
A: Yes because my father was a general of the army but at the same time a writer, painter, and sculptor. I have been around the arts all my life
Q: What is a typical day at home with you like?
A: It’s pretty normal. Every day I develop part of a drawing and I write some idea – or part of a project. I spend 3 hours per day in my art, every single day. I go to the gym 2 hours and 30 minutes per day, every day. I manage my networking and promote my art and projects 1 hour and 30 minutes per day.
I have discipline – that is the secret !!!
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: I am working on a very interesting, huge project but I can’t disclose anything yet. And in my art studio I am working on an interactive book of fashion. Poetry beside pictures of models, araw concept of art – a project where I am writer and model one more time.
Q: Tell me about Artists Wanted. THAT must be such an honor for you.
A: It’s a huge honor to have the chance to see my art showcased in Times Square I am really thankful with all the support of my friends and lots of people I am really touched about it .
Q: Do you have a personal favorite piece among your own work?
A: Always the drawing I am going to do tomorrow will be better than the last drawing I did – my favorite drawing
It’s going to be my next drawing
Q: Who are some of your inspirations? Artists/actors/models you look up to?
Artists: I love Rembrandt
actors: Heath Ledger
Directors: Woody Allen
Actress: Kate Blanchett
Designers: Stefano Gabanna and Tom Ford
Models: Kate Moss
Photographers: Mario Testino, Sante D’ Orazio, David Lachapelle, and I love what Raphael is doing right now
Makeup artists: Mario Dedivanovic
Music: its true I love AURADRONE’s music and it’s not because it’s my friend – its because of Jon Mack – AURADRONE is a powerful artist, I love the electronic sounds of AURADRONE’s music and the message of freedom of her work.
Finally I have to mention a person I really Admire, Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter. He created a huge change in the communication of this world.
Twitter is the most powerful social media ever, I love Twitter !!!!
Q: Who are some people you would like to work with?
A: I think Christopher Nolan is by far a visionary in the film industry. Would be great work with him.
Q: What’s up next for Diego Valdez?
A: I have lot of surprises and projects
So close, the book I mentioned before and beside it a powerful project where I have the chance to be a writer but I can’t disclose yet !!!