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The Voice of Sean Rosen, by Jeff Baron

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.

Me and one of the Ardsley seventh grade English classes

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.

The cast of Aaron’s Way, for which I wrote an episode

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 and “Sean”

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.

 

8 Comments

  1. cindy says:

    i think that is so neat!
    congrats on book release and
    i’ll definitely be checking it out.
    having actual podcasts out there
    as tie in is genius!

  2. mwt says:

    Woe! Sadness! I think that link to the podcasts is broken and I so wanted to hear Sean Rosen!

  3. Jody Feldman says:

    Welcome to Greenwillow and this amazing author world. Really, really looking forward to reading your book.
    Oh, and what Cindy said.

    P.S. I need the vanilla one with the sprinkles right NOW.

  4. Tim Smith says:

    The link is fixed, MWT. Your next donut is on the house.

  5. Jeff Baron says:

    Hi Cindy, Hi Jody, Hi Megan,
    Thanks for your notes. I’m excited to be your new Greenwillow cousin.

  6. I just listened to the Podcasts and really enjoyed them. Interesting, entertaining, funny, even educational. They were so good I decided to pre-order the book. I’m hoping you and ‘Sean’ add to the podcasts.

  7. Jeff Baron says:

    Thanks, Robb. Yes. More and more podcasts are coming. So glad you like them. I’m not completely sure that “podcast” is the right word, because they’re so visual, but that’s what Sean’s calling them.

  8. [...] Jeff Baron is a great new voice, and he’s thought a lot about voice. It is the voice of this novel that made it irresistible to me. I love the piece Jeff posted on the Greenwillow blog recently about voice. You can read it here. [...]

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