Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Author Interview: Gina Femia

Photo by Jody Christopherson
I am so excited to present a new series for the blog, which spotlights emerging writers in all genres! I am so honored that Gina Femia kicks off this new series! She tells us about her new play Mahogany Brown and the Case of The Disappearing Kid, which is running at the Brick Theater's Comic Book Theater Festival, her bookshelf top 5, and introduces me to an incredible band to add to my playlist. 

Tell me about Mahogany Brown and the Case of The Disappearing Kid.

Without giving too much away, Mahogany Brown and the Case of the Disappearing Kid is about a private eye who’s looking for Jimmy Jones’ lost kid in the vastness that is the City. Along the way she meets the mysterious character of Sunshine and has some creepy encounters with The Nameless – the shadows that compose the City. Everything starts off in black and white and shades of gray. Set and props pieces are all 2-dimensional cut-outs – except for when they’re not.   

The more I see it performed, the more I realize how closely knitted it is with my heart; I’m a Brooklyn native and much of my childhood and experiences are in the pages of this play. I tried to give a voice to the City and I think I accomplished that in this piece.

Were you a big Encyclopedia Brown fan as a kid?

No, surprisingly enough. I’ve heard of Encyclopedia Brown but I never read his stories as a child.  I did love a good mystery but I found them in my Nancy Drews and especially in The Boxcar Children (oh man, there was nothing better than The Boxcar Children series!). 

What was it like to write a play that marries theater with comic books? Were there any particular challenges?

It was AWESOME.  Freeing, to be more specific. I think I had such a firm grasp over the core of the story that I was able to slip easily within the piece and play around. In many ways, the sky was the limit. But even with all the freedom, creating a noir-comic story for the stage came with specific parameters that gave me a loose structure that I was able to play around within so I wasn’t overwhelmed by possibilities.

The challenges were with the story itself; because it’s very intricate and mysterious I had to be meticulous about what was revealed when and how. I wanted the clues to become more and more obvious as the play unravels and I wanted it to be something that the audience could grasp on their own times and without it being spelled out for them.      

What inspires you to write?

My heart! My need to tell stories. It’s something that has always been as instinctual as breathing for me and I’m always looking for ways to improve, to tell tighter, more magical stories in more intimate ways.

What 5 books are on your bookshelf right now?

5?  More like 500! Book junky! But I guess in order of what I’m going to read…I’m currently reading Take Me Out by Richard Greenberg, but after that my mom just lent me The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani so that’s first, then Room by Emma Donoghue, Lost by Sarah Beth Durst, Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan.

What do you recommend people see/read/hear?

People should see all the plays at The Brick’s Comic Book Festival of course!  They’re all really amazing in completely different ways so see them all!
Read Fangirl and Landline, both by Rainbow Rowell, both incredible.

And hear “The Trapeze Swinger” by Iron & Wine.  Beautiful song, made for summer and nostalgia.

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