Monday, April 27, 2009


The swine virus is here. And it’s frightening. In apocalyptic stories this is probably the number one thing that causes the world to come to the end. I know this because in my research for my upcoming novel The End Is Now I tried to read as many apocalyptic stories as I could. I’m not an expert, I just wanted to know the structure. So, I read The Stand, Alas Babylon, Good Omens, Left Behind, The Postman, as well as watched quite a few movies with apocalyptic story lines. What I discovered was there are about five primary things that bring on the apocalypse. 

In no particular order:

1) The Rapture (Left Behind series, A Thief In The Night)

2) A Superflu Virus (I Am Legend, The Stand, Outbreak, 12 Monkeys)

3) Aliens (The Day The Earth Stood Still, Independence Day

4) Nuclear War (Alas Babylon, Terminator Series

5) Uncontrollable Force Of Nature (The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon)  

These fears can and have caused panic and predictions of "The End Of The World." This panic is one of the themes that I explore when in my new novel. Once you read the novel I’d love to hear what you think about this.

Still, this morning, I was getting a cup of coffee from Starbucks and I saw the USA Today headline about the virus. I thought this is how it begins. And my guess is I thought this only because this is how the end would begin in a movie or a novel. But are things really coming to an end? When something like this happens do you fear the end or just keep on doing what you’re doing? 

I’m just curious.  

Thursday, April 23, 2009


First of all this is a trick question. There are no great American rock bands. They’re all from the UK. In no particular order: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, U2, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, any of these groups are arguably better then the best America has to offer. So what is America great at? Solo acts: Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson (I know Michael is not even close to a rock band, but he is greatest pop star ever so he must be mentioned and for that fact Madonna should probably be mentioned as well because she is the second greatest pop star ever).

Many people (my friend John Conrad included) would say that the greatest American rock band ever is Aerosmith. But that is wrong. They are arguably the most American rock band ever. They’ve starred in Superbowl halftime shows with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake; not to mention Wayne’s World 2; they’ve made the soundtrack to a movie with Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, and Steve Buscemi; Aerosmith even has their own Guitar Hero video game. What’s more American then that? 

But are they great? They were good for a long time. They are the Karl Malone of rock bands. They have all the stats but they’re too easy to forget.

Which is why the answer to this question is Nirvana. I’m not stating that you should or shouldn’t listen to them, I’m just giving you a cultural fact. And you can’t even really debate this (what are you going to tell me Journey was a greater band?).  And there are three primary reasons for their greatness. 

1) They Defined An Entire Music Movement

Grunge, alternative, call it whatever you want, but when Smells Like Teen Spirit showed up in 1991 it changed everything. From the music video in that old musty gym, to their appearance on SNL, to all of the alternative bands from Seattle that followed—Kurt, Dave, and the funky looking bass guitar player changed the face of music.

2) Cobain’s Death

Again legendary. It’s been debated, books have been written and movies have been made but it was tragic to loose such a talent. Still, I’ve often wondered what would have happened if he wouldn’t have died so young. I’d like to think great things. But who knows, maybe they would have become Pearl Jam making a string of good albums until they finally scored a Sean Penn movie. After all, Nirvana only had one great album, Nevermind. However, my real guess is Nirvana would have followed a career path closer to Guns N’ Roses.

3) The Foo Fighters 

Dave Grohl’s band must be talked about when talking about Nirvana’s legacy. And The Foo cements Nirvana as the greatest American rock band ever. Even though, in so many ways the Foo is a better band but mostly Wayne Campbell sums up the Nirvanna Foo relationship with this brillant Star Trek analogy. “They’re a lot like Star Trek: The Next Generation. In many ways, they’re superior but will never be as recognized as the original.” I cannot believe that’s my second Wayne’s World mention today.  

This blog is dedicated to my friend Chris Londino. He’s lives in Dallas and asked me a year and a half ago what the answer to this question was. Now you know Chris. If you have other pop culture questions you want me answer feel free to comment below and let me know.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Okay, so the ARC's (it's an acronym publishing folk use for advanced reading copy) for The End Is Now are out. An ARC is something that is bound like a book, looks like a book, but it's not quite a book. It's like the rough cut of a movie. The ARC's for TEIN (an acronym for The End Is Now) got printed a couple of weeks ago by the good people at Zondervan. And now the seeds of those ARC's are blossoming into endorsements and reviews. That sounded weird. Sorry I wanted to give a nice springtime analogy but not sure if that worked. In fact I'm sure it didn't. It bombed. If I had time I'd write a better analogy but I save that sort of great writing for my books. 

So, anyway, here are some endorsements by writers who I admire and respect and am thrilled to have them say kind words about my novel: 

"Rob has a way of undermining your way of thinking without you knowing it. Like a thief in the night, his endearing characters and hilarious satire will disarm your defenses and rattle your traditions. By the time you realize Rob has more in mind than simple entertainment, it will be too late. Some difficult questions will be staring you in the face and you might as well wrestle with them until morning comes."
 -- Glenn Packiam, pastor and author of "Butterfly in Brazil" and "Secondhand Jesus"

"If any genre needs a good satirist, it's end-of-the-world fiction. Good thing we have Rob Stennett. He's the Christopher Buckley of rapture reading."
-- Jason Boyett, author of Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse and other Pocket Guide titles.

"Rob Stennett makes the apocalypse fun! He has once again served up a brilliant dose of family dramedy. With equal parts humor, pathos, and artistry, Stennett deftly examines controversial dogma through the lens of family dysfunction. The satire ranges from subtle to sublime. It’s the best kind of storytelling—keenly observed, wise, humane, insightful, sympathetic, and downright rapturous.
--  Michael Snyder author of My Name Is Russell Fink and Return Policy 

"The End Is Now is a compelling story of love, faith, anxiety, humor, uncertainty, fear, community, family, and redemption. Rob Stennett tells a gripping tale that leaves no one behind."
-- Kevin Beck author of This Book Will Change Your World 

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Nothing to say today. Working on a novel. In the meantime here are some reviews others have posted about my debut novel The Almost True Story Of Ryan Fisher:

Friday, April 17, 2009


I grew up in the 1980’s which in many ways is somehow the best and yet worst decade for movies ever. And I loved (still love) movies. But my mother was protective. So was my father. They worked in a church and movies were a slippery slope and the wrong ones would ruin me forever. 

They were probably right. 

Nonetheless, here are the movies that I missed that everyone else was watching:


This was the coup-de-gras, everyone, everywhere had seen this 1984 gem that had the fingerprints Spielberg and Henson all over it. The playground was buzzing with tales of the Gremlin that mother put in the blender while another was put in the microwave. I was forced to only imagine how cool these scenes actually were, though I didn’t know what a Gremlin looked like. I only knew that they were put together by the same guy who did the Muppets and I could only imagine what it would look like if Kermit The Frog or Gonzo were stuck in a microwave or blender.   


Another 1984 masterpiece. Everyone on the playground was saying, “I’ve been slimed,” and I laughed and said it along with everyone. But I had no idea what a Slimer was. Or a proton pack. Or Rick Moranis.     


Also 1984 film (wow, I had no idea that was such a significant year; I do have a book that I want to write that takes place in 1984 because I think it is the most significant year in Pop Culture ever. I mean bigger then the Beatles significant. The stars aligned that year. Also, totally unrelated, but while I’m still in parentheticals, Gremlins and Temple are the movies that inspired the PG-13 rating.) 

Anyway, wasn’t allowed to see this one either. And I think mom was right about this one. This movie was awful. It was awful in the grotesque sense (monkey brains; priest that rips hearts out) and in the movie making sense. Sadly, this not even the worst movie in the franchise. Indy 4 may puzzle film students for years to come in its awfulness. 


Jump ahead 4 years to 1988. I heard of a movie where Daffy and Donald had piano duel. I heard of a movie where Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny pulled a prank on the same guy. A movie with a place called Toon Town where any and every animated character ever created came to life. And I wasn’t allowed to see it. This may have been the toughest one to swallow. It’d be like being told that there was a movie where Captain Kirk and Luke Skywalker went to fight and Darth Vader as his group of Klingons as they tried to take over the galaxy, but sorry you’re to young to see it. 

Anyway, those were movies I that were censored from me. There were others but these hurt the worst. What weren’t you allowed to see? 

Thursday, April 16, 2009


You can check out what another blogger had to say about TEIN here

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SO YOU WANT TO WRITE? (part 1)  

Every writer (and even more non-writers) have thoughts and rules about the writing process. Nearly everyone of those rules are right (except for those which are clearly not right). I’m teaching a class on writing today. They are writers interested in writing anything and everything. So I will give them broad, general, notes for writers starting out. If you are just jumping into a genre, or still searching for what’s out there this is for you. Hopefully, sometime soon I’ll post more specific notes pertaining only to novels (this is my specialty). Until then, I’ve dabbled in all sorts of writing and here is what I have learned:

In General: 

1) Write everyday

2) Characters, not plots, should always drive the action in the story

3) Have a place to write

4) Know your voice (what you want to write about and how you want to write about things)

5) Have heroes (know writers whose careers you admire, read everything they’ve ever written including the story of how they became successful)

6) Read everyday (if writers don’t read who will?)

7) Meet other writers and join a writers group (this is not easy, they hide under rocks and even when you do find them they already have a writers group, but they’re out there, somewhere, if you look hard enough) 

On Nonfiction:

I know very little about this. The biggest thing I know is what my undergrad English Advanced Composition teacher told me. He looked like Owl in Winnie The Pooh and is one of the best writing teachers I have ever had. He told me always make an argument. Argue anything. Look at both sides. Play the devils advocate. Then, show how misguided the devil really is.

Tomorrow thoughts on stories... 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I direct a piece of theater called The Thorn. It takes a small army to pull it off. There are probably about 13 people on earth who really understand all of the logistics and organization it takes to pull it all together. 
I am not an organized person. I can barely keep my lights separated form my darks. This is why I own so many pink shirts.  
The only thing I really understand how to do is how to fix something until it gets right. Right is not an absolute fact in art. Far from it. It’s more of feeling; an understanding of what the audience will experience and then deciding, yes this is what needs to happen for this type of a story. And what I spend my time doing for three months is practicing scenes over and over, fixing and changing and tweaking things until it is finally right, or at least as right as I can get it.  

The same is true with a novel. I write and then rewrite over and over again until I think, Yeah, this what I want to say. This is the type of story I want the audience to experience. Then I give it to my editor. And he edits (much like the audio and video and lighting engineers do their work on my first draft of a show), then he gives it to editors who edit more, until finally things go into production.  And that’s the scary part. Because once the book finally goes to press or the show is finally performed in front of audiences I can only think, Is this really what I wanted to say? Is this really what I wanted to do?  

I always thought it’d be gratifying when books are printed and shows are performed (and don’t get me wrong in some ways it is) for the masses. Instead all I usually think is Wait! Stop! I need to fix one more thing.  Because I know the truth. Now, it’s out there in the light of day for anyone to judge and to make comments on. 
This happened in The Thorn. When the first show was over a man came up to and said, “Are you the producer?”  
And I said, “Sure.” 
He said, Thomas (the new narrator) was okay but I have a couple of notes that will make him great. 
And I said, "Really? Oh, good.” 

Then I smiled as he gave me notes for the narrator of our story.  And this is what’s so scary about creating these days. For shows, anyone can come up to you after the show. For books it's worse there are blogs, amazon reviews, and so on. The reviews people see could be from my aunt Roxy or someone who only read two pages of the book yet other people will at the very least listen and take stock in the review.  
It freaks me out. 
You can spend months (years) on something and someone can take five minutes, type 100 words, and make a grand proclamation.  But in the end that’s what’s great about art. It’s not just about the creating of it, it’s about the audience experiencing it, and the audience can experience whatever they want. They can say whatever they please.   

And I can only sit there and smile as they say anything and everything. Because deep down I know the truth, they have as much right to criticize as I do to create.