Hightman, Jason 1971(?)- (J.P. Hightman)
Hightman, Jason 1971(?)- (J.P. Hightman)
Born c. 1971; married; children: Hannah. Education: University of Southern California, B.A., 1993.
Home—CA. E-mail—[email protected]
Film writer, director, and producer. Screenwriter for film studios, including Touchstone, Warner Films, and Columbia Pictures.
Writers Guild of America.
New York Independent Film and Video Festival awards for best writing, direction, and best of show, all 2003, all for Delusion; winner of several student filmmaking awards.
The Saint of Dragons (fantasy novel), Eos (New York, NY), 2004.
Samurai, Eos (New York, NY), 2006.
(Under name J.P. Hightman) Spirit, HarperTeen (New York, NY), 2008.
(And director) Delusion (screenplay; short film), 2003.
Also author of screenplay World War III, Columbia Pictures.
Film rights to The Saint of Dragons were purchased by Universal Pictures.
Jason Hightman has established a career as a screen-writer 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. As he 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 was The Saint of Dragons, Hightman's first young-adult novel.
Set in contemporary times, The Saint of Dragons posits that dragons are evil creatures and the source of all of human misery. The creatures still exist on Earth, but hide by disguising themselves as human beings. Simon St. George, the novel's thirteen-year-old protagonist, learns from his long-absent father, Aldric, that he is a descendant of a group of dragon slayers who are dedicated to fighting this evil. Because the dragons know of Simon's existence, the boy is in danger, so Aldric takes him out of school to teach him how to defend himself and learn the family trade. Joined by a beautiful wizard named Alaythia, Simon and Aldric must seek out all dragons and slay them before the creatures' nefarious plot to destroy the world reaches fruition.
Reviewing The Saint of Dragons, a Kirkus Reviews contributor commented on the story's high-action premise, while Susan L. Rogers wrote in School Library Journal that Hightman's novel is part of "a long series of sword-and-sorcery adventures heavy on action and light on plot." In Booklist, Sally Estes attested that while the author's "humor-laced story is preposterous to be sure," teen audiences "will enjoy going along on the adventure" of Simon and his companions.
Simon's adventures continue in Samurai, in which the teen and his father, the last two members of the Order of Dragonhunters, travel to Japan in search of other dragon hunters. There they team up with the Asian Order of the Serpentkillers, a band of Japanese samurai who serve as protectors of Simon's uncle Taro and cousin Kyoshi. The reason: the Swedish Ice Dragon is hoping to band together with leading dragons in Japan and India to raise a race of super dragons. Praising Hightman's high-energy story, Booklist contributor Sally Estes noted that Samurai treats readers to "a fantasy romp filled with frenzied action and a lot of slapstick humor." Dubbing the novel an "adventure-filled sequel" to The Saint of Dragons, Renee Steinberg wrote in School Library Journal that Hightman's novel, while sometimes violent, is "filled with twists and turns that will keep readers riveted until the conclusion."
In addition to his "Dragon" novels, Hightman is also the author of Spirit, a teen ghost story he published in 2008 under the pen name J.P. Hightman. The novel takes readers back to the early 1890s, as recently married Tess and Tobias Goodraven work as ghost hunters. While their work has moments of excitement, the couple find more than their share of thrills when they fall under the spell of a witch whose bitterness is responsible for the unearthly horrors that spawned the brutal witchcraft trials in Salem.
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, August, 2004, Sally Estes, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 1920; September 1, 2006, Sally Estes, review of Samurai, p. 110.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 2004, Timnah Card, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 77; January, 2007, Karen Coats, review of Samurai, p. 216.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 866; July 15, 2006, review of Samurai, p. 723.
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; October, 2006, Renee Steinberg, review of Samurai, p. 156.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2004, review of The Saint of Dragons, p. 406.
HarperCollins Children's Books Web site,http://www.harperchildrens.com/ (January 20, 2006), interview with Hightman.
Jason Hightman Home Page,http://www.jasonhightman.com (May 5, 2008).