'Baby' book grows up, becomes screenplay

The Baltimore Sun

Five mystical dragons, fearful of all the evil confronting the world's youths, bestow their powers on a human child. And thus is born Samurai Baby, defender of the young, protector of the innocent and, if Marcus Robinson has anything to say about it, the next big-time superhero coming to a theater near you.

Robinson, 34, won this year's Baltimore Screenwriters Competition, a three-year-old effort by Mayor Sheila Dixon and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts to shine a spotlight on local writing talent. Winning the competition gets him $1,500. But more importantly, it puts the world on notice, providing Robinson with that first push that any nascent screenwriting career needs. For Samurai Baby, he adapted his own three-year-old book, the first in a series that now stands at three, and which Robinson plans on expanding to eight.

We caught up with Robinson at his Gwynn Oak home, unwinding from his day job, teaching special-education students in the Washington school system. Not bad work for a guy whose brainchild is determined to make the world safe for the toddler set.

RULE 1 -- BE UNIQUE --I wanted to basically make a superhero that was more geared toward children than the mainstream superheroes. The idea just came out from underneath there.

FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES --It's kind of based off my niece. ... At the time (2005), I had a 10-month-old niece. My sister was a first-grade teacher, and she would bring my niece into the school so her students could see her. They began writing little stories about her. My family, we were all sitting around, joking, and I thought, "Wouldn't it be funny if I wrote a story about her?"

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW --My brother-in-law's a Jujitsu instructor, and martial arts kind of runs in my family. I do it. My sister does it.

WRITING IS EASY --It only took me a couple months to write the book. I've been writing since I was in grade school, mostly action-adventure fiction, but I can pretty much write almost anything.

ALREADY A HIT --We were doing literary elements, and I used Samurai Baby to help the kids learn about plot and character, setting and all that kind of stuff. They liked it; anywhere between the third grade and eighth grade seemed to like it.

FURTHER ADVENTURES --The next two books are Samurai Baby: Parental Advisory and Samurai Baby: Crouching Mommy, Hidden Daddy. The fourth one's almost finished. The villain actually stalks people through the Internet; each story has a theme that is relevant to what kids are going through today.

WHAT NOW? --I'm going to enter Samurai Baby into a couple more contests. There's another one in L.A., and then there's something sponsored by Martin Scorsese that I want to enter.



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