Jina Bacarr Interview
October 4th, 2006
Some of Jina’s writing or topics may not be suitable for children. Please be aware of that.
Jina Bacarr was kind enough to share some of her time to talk about her work with M.A.S.K. She wrote episodes: The Sceptre of Rajim, The Lost Riches of Rio, Riddle of the Raven Master, The Lost Fleet, Follow the Rainbow and The Manakara Giant MASK Episodes.
1. You just finished working on your latest book. Tell us all about it.
I just finished my third book for SPICE Books, an erotic fiction thriller called GEMINI BLONDE, about a female archaeologist working on a dig in Syria who is wrongly accused of murder. She becomes a sex agent for a covert U.S. security agency to track down the murderer and prove her innocence.
2. What kind of writer would you classify yourself as?
Erotic adventure writer.
3. Do you have any unusual quirks or superstitions that you feel make you a great writer?
A great writer? I don’t think any writer would classify themselves as a great writer. A writer, yes. I remember when I had the opportunity to hang out with Harlan Ellison. His business card said “Writer.” Nothing more. If it’s good enough for Harlan, it’s good enough for me.
4. When did you realize you had the gift to become a writer?
I was a shy kid with glasses and pigtails and a wild imagination. We moved around the country a lot because of my father’s work in aerospace, so I was always the “new kid.” With glasses, yet. I learned to entertain myself with stories. I was lucky to have traveled most of the US and halfway around the world while still in my teens. I had the op to see a lot of museums in different countries (from the Louvre in Paris to the Berlin Museum) and visit historical sites (from Civil War battlefields to the home of Marie Antoinette’s lover in Sweden). I believe that’s why I like to write adventure.
5. How similar is writing for cartoons like MASK to writing books?
A good story is a good story, no matter what the medium. You have to create a world for the reader/viewer and make it believable. The main difference is when you write a book you get to be the costumer, set designer, actor, director, everything!
6. Did you get profiles of the major characters to use as a guideline?
Yes. All TV shows have what are called “Bibles.” For MASK, each character had their own page and artistic rendering of what they looked like, as well as their quirks, strengths, and background, along with their weapons and special talents.
7. Did you come up with the safety tip at the end of the episodes you wrote yourself?
Yes. They could often be harder than the storyline to figure out. We had to be accurate as well as educational.
8. How did you make sure your script wouldn’t exceed the 22 minute show?
Page count. For animation, the page count is longer than for live action because you have to write every shot. I believe my scripts were around 45 pages.
9. How much freedom was given to you in writing the episodes?
A lot of freedom with the stories. I remember when I wrote “The Sceptre of Rajim,” I wanted to use the nearly-extinct Sabia Tiger in the plot. I thought it sounded cool. When we went into production, I had frantic messages on my answering machine (this was before cell phones!) from the production department. They couldn’t find a picture of a Sabia Tiger. Of course not, I told them, I made it up. Yes, we had a lot of freedom.
10. What was it like to watch the episodes you wrote for on television?
Totally cool!! I’m hoping they’ll release my episodes on DVD. It would be fun to watch them on my computer.
11. Was working on MASK a boost for your career?
It was the beginning of my career! Prior to that I wrote a video game and I worked in journalism (I wrote a column called “Sweet Savage Byte” for Micro-Times.)
12. Did any still existing friendship take its being/originate from your work on MASK?
Everybody on the show was terrific–over the years I’ve run into story editor Terry McDonald, Mel Gilden, and Karen Willson (we did a panel together at Comic Con in San Diego a while back.)
13. Suppose DIC was planning to make a third season of MASK episodes and asked you to cooperate again. Would you say yes?
Would any writer turn down work?
14. Did you expect MASK to still have a fan base after twenty years?
You don’t think about those things at the time because you’re “in the moment.” I’m not surprised it does. Now more than ever we need good “escapist” stories and MASK provides that.
15. What did you like about the cartoon?
The action adventure element appealed to me. Kids loved the action but adults “got” the dialogue.
16. Is there any information that you feel we should know that wasn’t asked?
You did a great job with the questions! I’ll just mention that adults interested in my current projects can check out my website at: www.jinabacarr.com and my erotic fiction novel, The Blonde Geisha. Thank you for having me!