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Chit Chat: Batavia native uses childhood as inspiration for book

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 10:54 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – Film and television screenwriter Kevin Jakubowski said his new novel, “8-Bit Christmas,” is “a love letter to Batavia in many ways.”

Jakubowski’s hometown of Batavia serves as the backdrop of his first book, which he describes as a comedic look at “kid pop culture” in the 1980s.

The story follows 9-year-old Jake Doyle who desperately wishes to get a new Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas.

Only one kid in Batavia – the rich kid – has a Nintendo system and won’t let anyone else play it.

A “comedically tragic” accident involving a Nintendo system causes an uproar in Batavia, and parents are set on banning the gaming system from the city. So Doyle and his buddies set out to try to get their hands on a Nintendo system despite the obstacles.

“It’s sort of in the vein of the TV show ‘The Wonder Years,’ or the movies ‘A Christmas Story,’ ‘The Sandlot’ and ‘Stand By Me,’ – movies that are narrated by an older narrator looking back on his childhood,” he said. “It’s definitely inspired by my own childhood growing up in Batavia.”

Jakubowski said he considered changing the name of the town and setting the novel somewhere in the Chicago area, but decided against it.

“There was really no reason to,” he said. “I definitely poke fun at the town, but I feel like it’s my town. I feel like I’m almost poking fun at myself. ... It’s all lighthearted fun.”

Jakubowski is now working as a film and television screenwriter and lives in Santa Monica, Calif. He said this year, he has done most of his writing for Comedy Central’s “Brickleberry,” which is produced by comedian Daniel Tosh.

Jakubowski said he is also writing for shows on Nickelodeon that are now in the pilot stage.

He also co-wrote the comedy film “Assassination of a High School President,” starring Bruce Willis and Mischa Barton.

Jakubowski said he wanted to write “8-Bit Christmas” as a book, but hopes to turn it into a film.

“It was really fun for me to kind of flex a different creative muscle,” he said. “It was fun to find my voice in something that didn’t have to be as structured as a screen play.”

He said his own experiences growing up in the 1980s also inspired the novel, which hit shelves on Nov. 1.

Kids went to great lengths to get their hands on a Nintendo Entertainment System because “before then, there wasn’t anything as cool as that,” he said.

He noted one of his friends, who had never had a Nintendo Entertainment System as a child, purchased one when he turned 18 – long after more modern gaming consoles had been out.

“That’s the length people went to,” Jakubowski said. “People have such a reverence for Nintendo. It seemed to strike a chord.”

If you go

Kevin Jakubowski recently published his first novel, “8-Bit Christmas,” which takes place in his hometown of Batavia. Jakubowski will be signing books and giving a lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, at the Batavia Public Library, 10 S. Batavia Ave., Batavia. Registration is required and can be completed by calling 630-879-1393, ext. 500. He also will sign books from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 21, at Limestone Coffee and Tea, 8 W. Wilson St., Batavia; and from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, at The Paper Merchant, 320 S. Third St., Geneva.

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