I’m a first-time novelist (previously, a full-time screenwriter and playwright), and both my new agent and Greenwillow told me they were drawn to I Represent Sean Rosen because they loved the character’s unique “voice”.
In the book, a funny show biz saga about a very creative, ambitious 13-year-old, we learn that Sean Rosen does podcasts. From the start, I intended to have Sean’s podcasts available online.
That meant finding a voice to be the voice of Sean Rosen. It felt a little risky, because Sean’s voice was coming across so clearly in print. What if you loved the book, but hated the voice of Sean in the podcasts?
When I first finished the book, I went to Ardsley (NY) Middle School nearby to try it out on some actual seventh graders. They liked what they heard, and since then, the school and I have adopted each other. I’ve been back numerous times.
On one of my visits, I asked kids to read from the book, part of my process for casting the Voice of Sean. Remember being taught to “read with expression?” Unfortunately, hardly any of the kids did that.
I didn’t really want a professional actor. I’d worked with kid actors in Hollywood, most of whom were trained by their parents to be super nice to any grown-ups who might hire them. That felt wrong for Sean, who achieves success without even telling his parents.
Then I thought of the son of some friends of mine. I spent some time with him when he was eight, doing research for a play I was writing. I remembered him being a bit of a handful. Still, there was something about him that reminded me of Sean Rosen, and now he was twelve. I asked his parents if he might be up for helping me figure out what these podcasts might be.
We went on a field trip to a neighborhood donut place to do some interviews. He turned out to be a natural. I found my Voice of Sean. Then he, his parents, and I negotiated a contract (he took the lead—very Sean Rosen), which includes a clause about not revealing his identity, also very Sean Rosen.
You can hear the voice of Sean Rosen speaking, singing and beatboxing on his podcasts at www.SeanRosen.com. You can hear the “voice” of Sean Rosen in I Represent Sean Rosen. People seem to feel like it’s the same kid.
Here we are together:
Jeff Baron’s work for the theater has been published and performed all over the world. I Represent Sean Rosen, which goes on sale March 19, is his first novel.