Are Theatre Artists Hardwired?

From 2011 to 2014, while working at Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, I was lucky enough to get to spearhead a research study into the aptitudes of theatre artists. Last week, an article I wrote about the study and our findings went live on and has seen a lot of traffic! Many university and high school theatre departments as well as community and trade groups have shared it, which is great to see. I’m so glad people are finding the results meaningful.

Howlround: Are Theatre Artists Hardwired?

Many thanks to Ramona at Howlround for her help getting the article ready for publication, and to my colleagues at Johnson O’Connor for their efforts, in particular Linda Houser-Marko, who was the collaborating researcher on the project. Let me know what you think!


My novel SINGLE VERSION is currently funding on Inkshares is a company everyone should check out, especially if you’re a writer. They’re a San Francisco publisher that crowdfunds their process, meaning: they let readers decide what they publish. They’ve built an awesome writers’ community online.

In order for Inkshares to publish SINGLE VERSION, I need to secure 1,000 pre-orders of the book by November 15. SINGLE VERSION is a sci-fi novel tinged with horror set in the Chicago of a bizarre but not-too-far-removed United States. An increasingly sinister corporate police state. 3D printers guarantee weapons and cybernetic limbs for all. Systems and infrastructure are falling apart. No information can be trusted whatsoever. And quadrillions of super-cockroaches dominate the ecosystem. And it sounds, at times, like the sky is screaming.

Seem like fun? If you dig the premise, and want to learn a bit more, follow the link above and check out my project page as well as the first two chapters. You’ll get a feel for the main character, the voice, and the world. If you like what you see, please pre-order the book!

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In August and September, SINGLE VERSION was entered in the Nerdist Collection Contest on Inkshares, a fun-as-hell ball of stress and hustle in which the top 5 projects were pushed into production regardless of whether they reached their funding goal. SINGLE VERSION placed 7th. Disappointing in the small sphere, but in the big picture a pretty inspiring and encouraging result–there were over 350 novels entered into this contest!

That got me some momentum, now it’s time to win the marathon. The race to 1,000. I have until November 15!

I believe people will enjoy this book. Even if they don’t “enjoy” it, they’ll enjoy thinking about it and being creeped out by it. Every time I turn on the news I see a story that makes me feel like we’re inching closer to a world like SINGLE VERSION, which makes it feel very timely to me. I’m extremely proud of it.

Here’s all you need to do:

  1. Go to and register an account, you’ll be asked for an email. They’ll send you an email to confirm your address.
  2. Wait for that email and click on the link within, this nets you a $5 credit which you can use immediately on any Inkshares book.
  3. Go to SINGLE VERSION’s page, you can use the link at left (or search for it by title or my name).
  4. Once your credit shows up, click the green PRE-ORDER button to order the book for $4.99.

That’s it! A few clicks and a pledge of $4.99, and you get a hard copy of a brand new sci-fi horror novel once its published! A new book for 5 bucks and you help a young author achieve a career milestone. Pretty sweet deal.

While you’re at it, check out a few projects from some other Inkshares authors too! Here are a few I’ve backed:

The Seventh Age: Dawn by R. Heinz

Disintegration by Steve Soldwedel

Enhanced by S.T. Ranscht and Robert Beus

It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett

The Talkers are Talking by Janna Grace

A God in the Shed by JF Dubeau

Blood Dawn by John Robin



My novel’s campaign on Inkshares ends in a week, which means there are seven days left to PRE-ORDER my book SINGLE VERSION for the cost of a beer. A normally priced beer, not some small batch Belgian sour beer– which would be delicious but that’s NOT what we’re talking about. This is a contest in partnership with The Nerdist, which means there are winners. Five winners to be exact. I want to be one of them, but I need you in order to get there.

The book has gotten a couple cool shout-outs on the Nerdist site, and here’s the link to my project, where you can read a sample and synopsis as well as order the book:

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The competition has gotten really heavy in the last couple weeks. I was running in the top 5 for most of the contest but I just–in the last few days–slipped into 7th and my only chance at winning this thing is if I have a strong finish. Please help me with this final push.

I’ve gotten great feedback on this novel. I believe in it. I think people will enjoy it, enjoy thinking about it, enjoy being creeped out by it. Inkshares is an awesome democratic model for publishing, and that excites me—but then add in the fact that if SINGLE VERSION finishes in the top 5, it will not only be published, but it may end up sponsored by The Nerdist. How cool is that?

Like sci-fi? Like horror? Like me? Please order. If I’m successful you get a new book to read for 5 bucks*. If I’m not, I’m not, and you won’t be charged a thing!

Thanks for considering. Contest ends 9/30. Jump in if you can.

*If you choose to order, make sure you A) confirm your email address to get your $5 credit (making my book $4.99 to order), and B) click back through to Inkshares to enter payment and shipping address info, otherwise your pre-order will not be complete! You’ll get an email titled ‘Single Version Confirmation’ when it’s a go.

SINGLE VERSION and the Nerdist Collection Contest

I did a crazy thing.

Casey sent me a link to a contest co-sponsored by Nerdist and Inkshares:

“Beginning August 15, writers can submit their pitches and/or sample chapters to Inkshares for consideration. Inkshares will then publish the top five science fiction and fantasy projects with the most unique reader pre-orders by 12:00 p.m. PST, September 30th. Lastly, we get to choose our favorite book from those five to include in our new Nerdist Collection on Inkshares.”

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So, the crazy thing…I entered my sci-fi horror novel SINGLE VERSION into the contest. Inkshares is like Kickstarter, you can back a project by pre-ordering the book, but you won’t be charged unless I meet my goal, which is *gulp* 750 pre-orders. But as far as the Nerdist contest goes, I made it to #6 on the leaderboard in just a few hours, thanks to the immediate support of a few generous friends. I want to crack the top 5! You can help me do that!

If you’d like to back SINGLE VERSION by pre-ordering a copy of the book, please follow this link:

There, you can read a little more about the story, a synopsis, and the first chapter.

Thanks so much for your support!

2015: The Summer of Change

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on my friend Josh’s couch, and my family is three states away.

Josh lives about half a mile from where Casey and I lived until last week. We packed up a UHaul (well, our movers did) and Casey and I headed back to Pittsburgh, the environs from which we both sprang. After only about 24 hours of getting settled in the Burgh, I had to hop on a train to come back to Chicago. Now, I’m finishing up my last few weeks of business here while my family awaits there.



The Allegheny River and the Monongahela River join to form the Ohio River at The Point Park shown in this aerial of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh Pennsylvania United States Golden Triangle.


This is not easy. Since my daughter was born, I’ve only ever been away from her for a few days at a stretch. Now, I’m going to be without her, and Casey, for about 2 weeks. Luckily, there’s FaceTime.

It’s the summer of change. New city. New home. New job (theoretically, still looking). New theatre scene. New people. New places. Much of this is very exciting, especially the whole being near family again after a decade away part.


Back in June, I had my first show in Pittsburgh in 6 years. BREWED, with No Name Players. The production was lovely, with great performances all around, supported by an awesome company (take note, friends: No Name Players is legit). Casey and I went into Pittsburgh for a few days so I could pop in on the final preview and be there for opening. The production was well attended, and the press response was good. As a hometown boy, it definitely felt special to have the show written up twice in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The writer from the PPG called it Shirley Jackson-esque, which was pretty cool. The whole weekend felt like a big, warm “welcome back.”

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BREWED at No Name Players

We’ve been moving in stages. Casey’s family has been periodically making trips to Chicago over the past few months, not just to visit, but to start taking stuff back. The BREWED weekend was a nice chance to meet some people before the move. The move felt very permanent for Casey, but not for me since I had to come right back to Illinois. I’ll be back in a couple weeks, and then it will feel like our life in Pittsburgh is really beginning.

Of course, returning to Pittsburgh doesn’t feel like returning. It feels like starting again in a new city. I’ve never lived there as an adult, just come in to visit, so there’s a lot to learn. It’s familiar and yet completely not. Every article I read about what’s happening in the city is exciting and inspiring.

Meanwhile, back in Chicago, I haven’t had a moment’s rest. Over the last few months, I’ve been working on two commissions. I wrapped up my year with the Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit and had a stellar reading of my play ENTRY (or, you think you know me), which teamed me up again with Devon de Mayo, who I absolutely love working with. Our cast of Emjoy Gavino, Jeff Trainor, Mary Williamson, Colm O’Reilly, Kelly O’Sullivan, and Erin Barlow crushed it. At the end of an unbelievable year of development at the Goodman, it was a beautiful finale.

Now, I’m working on a new play for Concordia University called OTHER FAMILIARS. It will be directed by Jason Narvy, first in a reading with professional actors at Chicago Dramatists next Saturday, August 8, at 2pm; and then in a full production with his students at Concordia in October. I have Jayme McGhan and Stephanie Stroud to thank for setting that up.

Where ENTRY is Horror, OTHER FAMILIARS is a dark fantasy with a lot of literary touches; both center on a subject that’s been heavy on my mind (and many peoples’ minds) this year: Grief. My friend Dana pointed out to me a few months back that a lot of my plays deal with grief. I never thought about it in those terms, but she’s right. I guess it makes sense, given that grief can take you to some places that are right out of a horror story.

Having these projects to work on has been healthy for me, keeping me focused on some things that are in my control with so many things that are out of my control approaching at full tilt. The end of our time in Chicago. The final day at my job, which I’ve been mostly happy at for the last 5 years. And now, at the end of September: Baby #2. (WE’RE HAVING ANOTHER BABY. WHAAAAT??) I’m glad I’ve knocked two plays out in the last year, because I have a feeling it’ll be some time before I can crank out another. Several months at least. Many sleepless nights ahead…

It’s all worth it though. Change is good. Family is great. And adventures keep life interesting.

BREWED in Pittsburgh this summer

UPDATE: BREWED has since opened and closed after having a great run (thanks Pittsburgh!), and it’s just been that long since I’ve been able to do a substantial update here. I’ll share more soon, about this production and what’s next…it’s been a crazy summer…

It’s been announced elsewhere and I’m late to the party, but I’m thrilled to announce that BREWED will be produced in Pittsburgh this summer with No Name Players. My friend and fellow Steeler fan Steven Wilson will direct.

Brewed Poster Image

The cast will feature Sol Crespo as Paulette, Tressa Glover as Babette, Siovhan Christensen as Juliette, Kelly Trumbull as Roxette, Cindy Jackson as Nannette, Alex Manalo as Collette, and Moira Quigley as Lee.

I’m so excited to be playing in my hometown again. And running just before we move, too; it feels like a welcoming.

Check out No Name’s website for info and tickets.

Erin Myers

I don’t normally post here about personal matters, but I feel compelled to tonight, because someone very dear to me will soon be moving on to whatever plane awaits beyond this one we all know and cherish.

Erin Myers is bravery. She is beauty. She is vitality and wisdom. One of the most generous, complicated, devoted, courageous, and smart-smart-smart people I’ve ever had the privilege to know and share my artistic life with. Casey and I will be moving to Pittsburgh in a few months, and when I look back on the decade I spent here, Erin will be among the most impactful and important people who touched my life in Chicago.

For anyone who doesn’t know her, you can read her breathtaking, heartbreaking, inspiring writings on her battle with cancer at her blog THE VIEW FROM THE 21st FLOOR.

Everyone should read it start to finish. Erin’s voice is a gift. Her honesty: essential and jaw-dropping.

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Erin learning fights for BREWED, summer of 2012

I knew Erin through the theatre scene for a few years before I actually got to know her. Then, in 2011, we worked on back-to-back shows together as actors, one with WildClaw, and one with The Mammals, and have been friends since. In 2013, Erin originated the role of Paulette in my play BREWED, a role she elevated with grit, passion, and precision. I made major changes to that play and that character during the process, and the credit goes to Erin. Her choices, insight, and limitless curiosity gave me a better understanding of who the character was, and who she could be. Her strength, her resolve, her outer rage and inner pain. Erin once said she viewed Paulette as a poet, though a severely frustrated one. I have thought of the character that way since.

During the course of these experiences, though I never told her (or anyone really), I came to think of Erin as an artistic sister-figure. I admired her the way I admire my older brothers. I always learned from her. I always felt small near her, but comfortably small. She was someone I trusted fully with my opinions and ideas, the rare person I actually found myself opening up to at times. I held her in the highest esteem and I always will.

Late last year I finished my first novel. The first person to read it was Casey. The second person to read it was Erin Myers. If it is ever published, it will be dedicated to her.

I’m heartbroken for her husband, her family, and all of her many friends (who I am lucky to count myself among). She’s a warrior. A special breed of bad-ass. And I will think of her every time I hear the word: “Motherfucker.”

[Erin Myers passed away on May 2. A superior woman, artist, troublemaker, and ally. She will be deeply missed.]



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