BookCon: The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3

The second season of Hulu’s hit series The Handmaid’s Tale left more than a few fans stunned when June (Elisabeth Moss) bucked her chance to escape to freedom in Canada with her baby and instead handed the infant off to Emily (Alexis Bleidel) while turning back into the world that still holds her other child hostage.

This weekend eager Handmaid’s fans finally got to see where June’s unexpected decision has lead the inhabitants of Gilead when showrunner Bruce Miller and actress Ann Dowd (“Aunt Lydia”) brought the premiere episode of the third season to New York’s BookCon.

Ann Dowd (“Aunt Lydia”) and Handmaid’s Tale showrunner, Bruce Miller

Without going into episode spoilers, I will say what I saw went a long way in explaining why June would make such a tremendous sacrifice in that finale and the acting across the board continues to be top notch. Alexis Bleidel’s Emily in particular had me moved to tears more than once. And the BookCon crowd broke out into applause at least twice.

While the terrifying Aunt Lydia did not appear in the premiere ep, the trailers showed that she will return after Emily very literally stabbed her in back last year. Dowd, who was also nefarious in last year’s horror hit Hereditary, is delightful and warm in person and said of Lydia, “she is doing quite well…she’s very concerned” She also offered some exciting tidbits into where season three might take Aunt Lydia.

Although in the last two seasons we’ve seen almost every protagonist’s backstory, Aunt Lydia has remained a mystery. Apparently that will change in season three. Of this insight, Dowd commented that while it wasn’t exactly what she thought it would be “it’s so true to what might have went wrong.” On that change she added that whatever happened, “her life leaned toward Gilead and [to being] one of the most staunch believers of that group.” And while Dowd clearly loves playing Lydia, she joked about her inner dialogue with the character: “I say I’m disappointed with her and she says to mind my business!”

Dowd complimenting a Handmaid cosplayer in attendance

The Handmaid’s Tale returns weekly to Hulu starting Wednesday June 5th.

A Look at BookCon 2015

On May 30th and 31st, the Javits Center opened its doors to the 2015 BookCon. This event, described by its organizers as a place “where storytelling and pop culture collide,” saw both an increase in attendance and size this year. With author and celebrity Q&A’s, panels, autographing areas, meet and greets, interactive events and quizzes, and special screenings, BookCon had something for everyone this year. Many publishing tables offered free posters, postcards, tote bags, and books to attendees, while a booth downstairs offered many of the invited guests’ books for sale. While there were a few organizational issues, most of the attendees had nothing but praise for the event and cited huge organizational and regulatory improvements to last year’s BookCon, including the popular wristband policy that ReedPop affected with its most recent New York City Comic Con. While the event boasted a wide range of book genres represented, it definitely felt as if the young adult crowd was the most prevalent, especially with the many Youtubers in attendance this year. Next year, the event will be moving to Chicago and will take place on May 14th. Below are some snapshots from the event.

Randall Wallace Talks About “Living the Braveheart Life”

Randall Wallace may not be a man you know by name, but you most definitely know his work. A prolific screenwriter, director, producer, and songwriter, he is most well known for writing the films Braveheart, The Man in the Iron Mask, Pearl Harbor, and Heaven is for Real. His Braveheart screenplay garnered him a Writers Guild of America Award and both a Golden Globe nomination and Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. In addition to writing, he is also the producer behind films such as We Were Soldiers, as well as being the director of Secretariat and Heaven is for Real, among others. I was lucky enough to sit down with Mr. Wallace to discuss the release of his upcoming book: Living the Braveheart Life: Finding the Courage to Follow Your Heart. The book itself is an interesting read, as it is both biographical and motivational, asking readers to ask themselves what it is they are willing to die for. Readers will learn the story behind the story of the Braveheart script, while learning about the man who wrote it.

You’ve written in quite a few different mediums- songs, books, screenplays- how does your writing process differ between them?

“I think about that a lot, and I never have a consistent answer. I think that everything that’s true is complicated. Everything that’s true has a paradox about it. You’re trying to find the most simple way to say something and finding that simplicity is what’s difficult. There has to be a great deal of courage to start the writing journey. Writing is an act of faith.”

You write a lot of stories of these epic adventures where the everyman steps up to become the hero. With that in mind, do you ever see your own story being turned into any sort of film in the future?

“I don’t know. (laughs) Robert Redford is a little old to play me now. Honestly, I think it would be a hard story to tell. I know it because I try to tell it in some ways in this book. I have three sons, and I wonder at times what their perception of me is because in some ways, their’s is the only one I care about. Everybody else’s opinion of me is whatever it is, but their’s matters, and it matters not so much in what it says about me, but what it says about them. You know, to them, I might sit down and scribble away on a piece of paper and get paid for it, but behind that there are the thousand rejections and nights of despair. I want you to know that I was as much alive when no one knew who I was as I am now. I hesitated about writing this book because really Braveheart is the story, and in movies, maybe you don’t need to see behind the curtain- why would you want to? In a certain way, I think my life is a movie- it’s called Braveheart, it’s called Pearl Harbor. In a way, I can express more of the truth of whatever is me through that stories that move me.”

What’s next for you? Are there any projects you can share?

“I’ve got a new project that is about military working dogs- the SEAL team dogs. The dogs are warriors too, and the interplay between not just human and canine but the sense that we all want to find what is essential in ourselves so that we can make contact with it. In Heaven is for Real, it was a really a deep exploration into spirit and faith. Now I want to do something that’s gritty.”

Randall Wallace’s Living the Braveheart Life: Finding the Courage to Follow Your Heart is available for pre-order now and will go on sale September 8, 2015.

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