Tell us a little bit about your writing and educational background
Professor Hischak: I began writing non-fiction books about theatre and film in 1991. At the time there were few books about Broadway lyricists, librettists, plays into movies, and other subjects. Some of my books are strictly reference, others are critical studies. I write for students, theatregoers or moviegoers, not for scholars or critics. I look for a subject in theatre, film, and popular music that interests me and I feel has not been covered adequately or in a manner for average readers. My college degrees are in English and Theatre; my interests also include movies and popular music before 1960.
What is your book about?
Professor Hischak: It is a compilation of facts, descriptions, and commentary about every aspect of composer Jerome Kern and his works. This includes his famous Broadway musicals, songs, and movies as well as obscure shows, songs, and films. The encyclopedia covers people who worked with Kern, all of his stage and screen works, descriptions of over 100 of his songs, and other themes or aspects of Kern’s life and work.
Why should readers read your book?
Professor Hischak: People who love Broadway and film musicals, particularly those before 1950, will find a wealth of information about one of America’s greatest composers of popular music. Whether they know little or plenty about Kern, the book is filled with entries that will interest them.
Did you have any obstacles while writing this book? If so, what were they?
Professor Hischak: Kern’s career goes from 1904 to his death in 1945 so many of his works are obscure with only scattered bits of information available. There have been excellent biographies of Kern but no one has collected so many details about his work, especially his early work in New York and London. Also, Kern wrote dozens of songs that were interpolated into shows written by others so tracing the source of these was difficult.
What other books have you had published?
American Literature on Stage and Screen
Disney Voice Actors: A Biographical Dictionary
The Off Broadway Musical Since 1919: The Greenwich Village Follies to The Toxic Avenger
Broadway Plays and Musicals: Descriptions and Essential Facts of More Than 14,000 Shows Through 2007
The Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, Film and Television
The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia
Enter the Playmakers: Directors and Choreographers on the New York Stage
Theatre as Human Action
American Plays and Musicals on Screen
The Oxford Companion to American Theatre
Through the Screen Door: What Happened to the Broadway Musical When It Went to Hollywood
Enter the Players: New York Actors in the Twentieth Century
Boy Loses Girl: Broadway’s Librettists
The Tin Pan Alley Song Encyclopedia
Film It With Music: An Encyclopedic Guide to the American Movie Musical
American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1969-2000
The American Musical Film Song Encyclopedia
The Theatregoer’s Almanac: A Collection of Lists, People, History, and Commentary on the American Theatre
The American Musical Theatre Song Encyclopedia
Stage It With Music: An Encyclopedic Guide to the American Musical Theatre
Word Crazy: Broadway Lyricists From Cohan to Sondheim
Are you working on any projects right now?
Professor Hischak: I have just signed a contract with Scarecrow Press to write an encyclopedia of movie composers from Hollywood and around the world. The life, work, and commentary on the style of approximately 200 notable composers will be covered.
What is your advice for writers wanting to turn authors out there?
Professor Hischak: I am only experienced with non-fiction books. I advise writers to find a subject that they love and want to spent a lot of time with, look for an aspect of that subject that has not been adequately written about, then write a proposal and sample chapters to send to appropriate publishers.
What made you become a writer?
Professor Hischak: I like research, learning more about a subject that interests me. I like sharing what I have learned. I do this as a college teacher but the books are an extension of that.
Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite type of book to read?
Professor Hischak: Arts nonfiction: Gerald Bordman, Ethan Mordden, Stanley Green, Walter Kerr, John Simon, Pauline Kael.
Where can we find you?
Anything you would like to add?
Professor Hischak: Although theatre, movies, and popular music are populist art forms, they deserve the same careful research and critical commentary as any other art form.
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