JONATHAN VAN BILSEN Special to The Standard
Anyone who has ever written an article, a book or a short story knows how difficult and frustrating such a task can be. Writing a drama or adventure essay is nothing compared to the challenge of writing a children’s book, an art form truly mastered by this month’s Next Chapter’s author, Neil Crone.
Many people know Neil as a comic and an actor and he has starred in dozens of television series, movies and theater productions, where he played many roles from his veteran days at Second City to Fred, the crusty Radio announcer on Little Mosque on the Prairie. Not to mention his recent role as the prosecutor in Murdoch Mysteries where he tried to have sweet Julia thrown in prison.
I was stunned to learn that Neil has written children’s books and when I read his latest, The Farmer’s Secret Midnight Dance, I was shocked by the sensitivity Neil captured in the story. It starts with a little boy, fast asleep in his bed, awakened by the sound of distant music. He dons his slippers and climbs out the window to a moonlit hill where he witnesses a group of local farmers standing in a circle around a bonfire. At the stroke of midnight the farm animals come out and on this particular, magical night, they are able to speak. The farmers convey their respect and love for the animals and share their dependence on them. The soiree concludes with a dance where everyone participates.
I asked Neil how he began his witty and sometimes provocative writing career and he explained that he has always enjoyed writing, but when he moved to Sunderland with his young children, and was surrounded by farms, he decided to begin writing poetry for the pleasure of his kids. Years later he pitched the verse and after many rejections was finally accepted and the book was published.
So what is next for Neil Crone? “I am putting together an anthology of letters; it is a collection of my own writings. Both emails to friends while I was undergoing my bout with colorectal cancer and some articles that I wrote at the same time,” Neil explains. “The letters will help people with the dreaded illness cope and understand their experiences better.”
In the photo (left) is a knitted shawl presented to Neil by several ladies who had heard of his illness and decided to knit and present it to him after a theatre production. “You can never imagine how much that gift means to me and how much I appreciate the gesture of those sweet ladies.” A sensitive side to a great actor.
THE NEXT CHAPTER is a monthly feature of the Standard newspaper and is written by author and photographer Jonathan van Bilsen. His work can be viewed at photosNtravel.com
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