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Blixt, David

Blixt, David

PERSONAL:

Married; wife's name Jan; children: Dashiell (son). Hobbies and other interests: Travel, historical fiction, old-time radio, classic cartoons, comic books, films, music, stage combat, muppets, and hookahs.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Chicago, IL. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, Shakespearean actor, director, and educator. Actor in Shakespearean plays at venues such as the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, the Goodman Theater, Northlight, CityLit, First Folio Shakespeare Festival, Lifeline, Michigan Shakespeare Festival, and the Stratford Festival in Chicago. A Crew of Patches (a Shakespearean repertory company), cofounder, actor, director, and choreographer. Former drama teacher in public schools in Ann Arbor, MI, and Chicago, IL.

WRITINGS:

The Master of Verona (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Voice of the Falconer (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2008.

Also author of e-book Varnished Faces, Amazon.com.

SIDELIGHTS:

David Blixt is a professional Shakespearean actor, director, and writer. Once a high-school student with a typical dislike of the works of the Bard, reinforced by compulsory readings of the plays in literature class, Blixt discovered the power and poetry of Shakespeare's works after landing the role of Mercutio in a high-school production of Romeo and Juliet, he related on the Backstory Web site. A resident of Chicago, Illinois, Blixt has acted in productions of Shakespeare's works in venues throughout the United States and around the world. He is also the cofounder, with his wife Jan and his colleague Benjamin Montague, of his own Shakespearean repertory company, A Crew of Patches, which places him in roles from actor to director to stage manager. He is a former drama teacher who worked with elementary-school children in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois, public schools. Now, when he gives readings at universities throughout the country, he sometimes meets those students again, grown up to college age. "Having college kids come up and tell me I taught them is a little disconcerting," he commented to Kelly Hewitt in an interview on the Loaded Shelf Web site. In the interview with Hewitt, Blixt described himself as a "media junkie," with interests that include television series, classic comedies, animated films, comic books, mystery and science fiction novels, and classic rock music.

This wide-ranging interest in art and culture fuels Blixt's desire to write. In his debut novel, The Master of Verona, Blixt revisits the classic Shakespearean drama of doomed lovers Romeo and Juliet. A performer in numerous productions of the play, Blixt was once asked to direct a new production. "It was my first time directing Shakespeare, and I took it quite seriously," Blixt commented on Backstory. During his research, he made a discovery that he feels has eluded other scholars and interpreters of the story of the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets, between Padua and Verona. "Poking around for lines to cut, I found something. I found a cause for the feud. I may not be the first ever to see it, but I've certainly never heard it anywhere else. It's oblique, and doesn't affect the action of the play. Nevertheless, once the idea got hold of me I couldn't let it go. So I sat down to write," Blixt commented on Backstory. The result was The Master of Verona. In the complex story, the city-states of Padua and Verona are at war, and the Verona's ruler, Francesco "Cangrande" della Scala seeks to gain control of the defiant cities. Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Pietro Alighieri, son of the famous poet Dante, has become his father's heir after the death of his older brother. Soon, Pietro finds himself embroiled in Cangrande's political machinations, even as he watches his two best friends edge ever closer to igniting a blood feud over their mutual love of one woman. Hewitt called The Master of Verona an "intellectual, thoughtful, and vivid read." A Publishers Weekly contributor remarked favorably on the novel's "intricate plot, taut narrative, sharp period detail, and beautifully realized characters." A Kirkus Reviews critic concluded, "Intricate plotting, well-staged scenes, and colorful descriptions enhance head-spinning but lively entertainment."

Blixt told CA: "Mr. Melby's sixth-grade class first got me interested in writing. Every Friday he would make us sit down and write a two-hundred-word story. After my first couple of efforts, I launched in on a multipart epic inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's book, The Hobbit, and the Dreadstar comic books. I included lots of swords and giant spiders.

"My work is influenced by the novelists Dorothy Dunnett, Bernard Cornwell, Colleen McCullough, and Patrick O'Brian. And, obviously, William Shakespeare.

"Often I write snippets of dialogue and connect them later on. A decent day is 2,000 words, a good day is 5,000 words, and a great day is 8,000 words. When I get hung up, or resistant, I either write freehand for awhile, or else return to my research, where I inevitably discover some arcane fact that inspires a new direction.

"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is that I have more than one story in me.

"I hope that my books provide entertainment, pure and simple. I want people to enjoy them, and perhaps to look at writers like Shakespeare and Dante with fresher eyes."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2007, review of The Master of Verona.

Publishers Weekly, April 16, 2007, review of The Master of Verona, p. 28.

ONLINE

Backstory Web log,http://mjroseblod.typepad.com/ (October 4, 2007), "David Blixt's Backstory."

Blogger News Network,http://www.bloggernews.net/ (September 28, 2007), Andrew Ian Dodge, review of The Master of Verona.

David Blixt Home Page,http://www.davidblixt.com (November 27, 2007).

Enduring Romance Web log,http://enduringromance.blogspot.com/ (September 21, 2007), Kimber An, review of The Master of Verona.

Historical Boys Web log,http://historicalboys.blogspot.com/ (July 26, 2007), C.W. Gortner, interview with David Blixt.

Loaded Shelf,http://www.loadedshelf.com/ (November 27, 2007), Kelly Hewitt, "Loaded Questions: The Master of Verona author, David Blixt."

Master of Verona Web site,http://www.themasterofverona.com (November 27, 2007).

Reading the Past Web log,http://readingthepast.blogspot.com/ (July 23, 2007), Sarah Johnson, interview with David Blixt.

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