Hightman, Jason 1971(?)–

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Hightman, Jason 1971(?)–

PERSONAL: Born c. 1971; married; children: one daughter. Education: University of Southern California, B.A., 1993.

ADDRESSES: Home—CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10022. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Film writer, director, and producer. Screenwriter for film studios, including Touchstone, Warner Films, and Columbia Pictures.

MEMBER: Writers Guild of America.

AWARDS, HONORS: New York Independent Film and Video Festival awards for best writing, direction, and best of show, all 2003, all for Delusion; also winner of several student filmmaking awards.

WRITINGS:

(And director) Delusion (short film), 2003.

The Saint of Dragons (fantasy novel), Eos (New York, NY), 2004.

Also author of screenplay World War III, Columbia Pictures.

ADAPTATIONS: Film rights to The Saint of Dragons have been purchased by Universal Pictures.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Writing the screenplay adaptation of The Saint of Dragons.

SIDELIGHTS: Jason Hightman is a screenwriter and award-winning director. Since he was about seventeen, however, Hightman had been mulling over a story idea involving the descendants of St. George the dragon slayer. Then, as the author revealed in an interview on the HarperCollins Children's Books Web site, "the idea of dragons reoccurred to me with special strength after the September 11 tragedy." The existence of evil in the world—made so apparent by the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, led Hightman to decide to tackle the issue metaphorically through a fantasy novel. The result became The Saint of Dragons, his first novel.

Set in contemporary times, the premise of the book is that dragons, who are evil creatures and the source of all of humanity's misery, still exist and hide among people disguised as human beings. Simon St. George, the thirteen-year-old protagonist, learns from his long-absent father, Aldric, that he is a descendant of the dragon slayers. Because the dragons know of Simon's existence, he is in danger, and Aldric takes him out of school to train him in the family trade. Together, and with the additional assistance of the wizard Alaythia, they must seek out the dragons and slay them before their nefarious plot to destroy the world comes to fruition.

Critics of The Saint of Dragons considered it a rollicking, if rather shallow, adventure that should appeal to many teenage readers. For example, a Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that there is a lot of the book's action that will "distract readers from the clunky prose, wooden characters, and nonsensical, cliché-ridden plot." Susan L. Rogers, writing in the School Library Journal, described the novel as "a long series of sword-and-sorcery adventures heavy on action and light on plot." Booklist critic Sally Estes similarly attested that "the humor-laced story is preposterous to be sure," but added that audiences "will enjoy going along on the adventure."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 2004, Sally Estes, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 1920.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 2004, Timnah Card, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 77.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 866.

Kliatt, July, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 8; September, 2005, Claire Rosser, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 28.

Publishers Weekly, December 6, 2004, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 60.

School Librarian, winter, 2004, Dorothy Atkinson, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 214.

School Library Journal, September, 2004, Susan L. Rogers, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 208.

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2004, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 406.

ONLINE

HarperCollins Children's Books, http://www.harperchildrens.com/ (January 20, 2006), interview with Jason Hightman.

Jason Hightman Home Page, http://www.jasonhightman.com (January 20, 2006).