First Mystery by Emeritus Professor Published
Professor Emeritus of Theatre
May 21, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan University Professor Emeritus of Theatre Jared
Brown has published his first mystery novel, Mind the Gap and 2 Other Mysteries (Author House, 2009).
Mind the Gap follows the 17-day trip of American theater students in London. Brown, a professor
of theatre at Illinois Wesleyan from 1989 to 2001, is a prolific writer of plays and
biographies. Published this month, Mind the Gap is Brown’s sixth book, but first foray
into fiction. Since 1986, he has created five biographies and histories of famous
Broadway actors and directors, such as The Fabulous Lunts: A Biography of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne (Atheneum, 1986), Zero Mostel: A Biography (Atheneum, 1989) and Alan J. Pakula: His Films and His Life (Back Stage Books, 2005).
Working on fiction was a new challenge, said Brown, who is used to conducting interviews
to research his biographies. “When I was interviewing, I could always think, ‘How
does what he told me fit in with what she told me?’ In a way, I was writing the book
in my mind even before I sat down to put it on paper,” said Brown, who has interviewed
such people as Harrison Ford, Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Peter
Jennings for his books. “When I started with fiction, I started with just a blank
screen staring at me, which was a touch overwhelming,” he admitted.
Once he completed the first story, Brown said other stories flowed with much more
ease. Two of those stories are included in Mind the Gap. The first, “The Value of Books,” follows a librarian in love with a co-worker, who
plots to get rid of his romantic rival. The second, “Midtown Detectives,” Brown calls
a spoof of the noir mysteries of Dashiell Hammell, Raymond Chandler and Robert B.
Parker. “There was a time when I would read two or three mysteries a week,” said Brown
of his love for the noir work.
Mind the Gap has further Illinois Wesleyan connections. The cover art was created by 2009 graduate
Matt Young of Madison, Wis. “I asked [Professor of Art] Sherri McElroy if she had
any outstanding students in her graphic design class who might want to design the
cover,” said Brown. “She offered Matt.” The cover is a darkly blurred shot of the
London Underground, a setting of one of the book’s crimes.
Along with his books, Brown is the author of several plays. His next project will
be the production of three of his one-act plays at the Heartland Theatre Company in
Normal, Ill. The performance called Three for the Show is slated to open in the fall of 2010.
Rachel Hatch, (309) 556-3960