Staton Rabin Revealed
About Staton Rabin
What is your birthdate?:7/19
Previous occupations:Have never really had another occupation. I write and am a story analyst (consultant) for writers and film producers.
Favorite job:Luckily, since I self-assign most of my writing assignments, I choose subjects I enjoy.
High school and/or college:Went to high school in Hastings-on-Hudson NY. I attended Oberlin College in Ohio, and transferred out to attend NYU Film School. I graduated from NYU with a degree in Film.
Name of your favorite composer or music artist?:Buddy Holly and also Richard Rodgers.
Favorite movie:So many! Meet Me in St. Louis, Singin' in the Rain, Laura, and It's a Wonderful Life, are just a few of them.
Favorite television show:I liked the old Dick Van Dyke Show. Nowadays, I watch news shows-- MSNBC, CNN, etc.
- Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
- A. I edit it, keep only the best parts.
- Q. What is your motto or maxim?
- A. “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you've collected nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don't know about you, but I'd like to make today worth remembering.” (Prof. Harold Hill in Meredith Willson's THE MUSIC MAN).
- Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
- A. Having a cup of coffee and a hamburger at the little diner in the town where I grew up-- where the waitresses still call me "honey"-- and smiling to myself knowing that lots of teens read my books, and that perhaps some of them might be inspired to to change the world (with kindness, courage, and integrity)-- like the heroes in my books-- as a result.
- Q. What’s your greatest fear?
- A. That someday they'll close that diner!
- Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
- A. In the Oval Office, shaking President Obama's hand.
- Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
- A. Well, I think that there's a piece of me in every character out of history that I write about. Actually, it's the opposite, since they came first! I certainly don't claim to resemble anyone "great". The people I most admire out of history, though, for their talents and accomplishments, or virtues-- or both-- include: Abraham Lincoln, Fred Astaire, Martin Luther King, Jr., Judy Garland, Buddy Holly, Frank Sinatra, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and many others.
- Q. Which living person do you most admire?
- A. Without a doubt, my father, a World War II veteran who received the Bronze Star for heroism in combat and will be 90 in a few days-- and also President Obama.
- Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
- A. My friends would say that whichever historical figure I'm currently writing about is one whose name they hear way too often! Sometimes, they feel compelled to remind me that these people are not still alive.
- Q. What do you regret most?
- A. People often say that they most regret the things they didn't do, not the things they did, and I think that's true for me as well. And that's all you'll get out of me!:-)
- Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
- A. Singing!
- Q. What is your greatest achievement?
- A. If people who know me say I'm a kind and honest person and have integrity, that I would consider a great achievement.
- Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
- A. Like most people in the arts, I talk too much and I'm way too fascinated with myself!
- Q. What’s your best quality?
- A. Honesty and loyalty-- I hope.
- Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
- A. I'd still like to be myself, but able to travel in time to wherever I wanted to be, so I could witness things and meet famous people out of history. But I guess my books allow me do that!
- Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
- A. Probably intelligence. But I don't think people deserve credit for their intelligence-- it's their character that counts.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
- A. Jane Eyre or Sherlock Holmes.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
- A. I try to avoid villains in life and in fiction. In fiction, I think villains should have a mix of good and bad qualities, like real people. So in my own books, I like Napoleon and Rasputin.
- Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
- A. I'd like to meet rock 'n' roll pioneer Buddy Holly, and Abraham Lincoln. I'd tell Buddy not to get on that plane on February 3, 1959. And I'd tell Lincoln not to go to Ford's Theatre on April l4, l865.
- Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
- A. E-mails that are written in such haste that I can't understand what the person is saying. And e-mails that don't begin with "Dear Staton" or "Dear Ms. Rabin", and simply dive right in. Yes, I know I'm a bit old-fashioned.
- Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
- A. Watching old movies and talking with friends.
- Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
- A. Singer/dancer in movies at MGM in the l940s, or working for President Obama as a speech writer (not that he needs one!), now.
- Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
- A. Honesty, reliability, compassion.
- Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
- A. My mother's Greek spinach rolls (though we're not Greek).
- Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
- A. Everyday by Buddy Holly. That's All sung by Edie Adams. I Have Dreamed by Rodgers and Hammerstein, sung by Frank Sinatra. And almost anything written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Lerner and Lowe, or sung by Buddy Holly, Sinatra, Patsy Cline, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Elvis, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, or Fred Astaire.
On Books and Writing
- Q. Who are your favorite authors?
- A. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charlotte Bronte, Sherwood Anderson, Charles Dickens, Willa Cather, and many historians.
- Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
- A. The early Sherlock Holmes stories, Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind, Memoirs of a Geisha, and a lot of nonfiction history books.
- Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
- A. The Sherlock Holmes stories.
- Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
- A. Expect rejections-- they're part of the job.
- Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
- A. "Don't kill off any of the characters that I like." And, whatever they write to me, it's usually got three exclamation points at the end of every sentence.
- Q. How did you come to write Curse of the Romanovs?
- A. The Curse of the Romanovs began as a short story of mine many years ago. An American teenage girl-- a budding scientist-- is peering into a microscope, examining a drop of blood on a glass slide. To her astonishment, she sees a miniature boy swimming in that drop of blood, screaming for help. He claims to be Alexei Romanov, the Tsar's son and the heir to the Russian throne in l9l7, who is a hemophiliac (in other words, he has a bleeding disease). Through magic, he instantly reverts back to normal size and is standing next to her, real as can be, but naturally at first she doesn't believe he's who he says he is. That was the idea that many years later became the spark for the story I tell in my book-- though in the end my novel became quite different from the original concept. But the basic idea of a time travel story involving those two characters started with that short story. My novel Betsy and the Emperor started with a movie idea of mine, based on a real conversation I read in a history book that had taken place between Napoleon Bonaparte and a teen English girl named Betsy Balcombe. He met Betsy when he was being held prisoner by the British on St. Helena, and I thought their relationship was fascinating. She kind of bossed him around! Naturally, I spent a long time doing research and planning the story before writing the book. My book has been optioned for a movie with Al Pacino attached to star as Napoleon, and it's also published in l4 languages. Black Powder grew out of my question, "Wouldn't the world be a better place if guns had never been invented?" I've also always like fast-paced and fun time travel adventures like the movie, Back to the Future. So I wanted to write my own, original story in that genre, but with an African American teen as its hero. It would blend a serious central question and high stakes with a lot of comedy. I also wanted this young man to defy some reader's stereotypes about teens living in Los Angeles. He would be a great student, a science whiz, and it would be the white teen, not the black teen, who belonged to a street gang.