Kevin Costner at an event in Beverly Hills, California, in February. His latest project is a book with author Jon Baird and illustrator Rick Ross.

Kevin Costner at an event in Beverly Hills, California, in February. His latest project is a book with author Jon Baird and illustrator Rick Ross.

After three decades in Hollywood, an actor can build up quite a resume. Yet, few have taken on as many roles as Kevin Costner. In front of the camera, Costner has played federal agent Elliot Ness, a union soldier on the frontier, and a minor league catcher who never makes it to the majors. He has directed, produced and even played on the soundtracks of several projects. Now, the Academy Award-winner has taken on a new challenge: publishing. Costner and his co-author just released a graphic novel that takes readers from the snowy arctic to a golden city of myth. Kevin Costner and Jon Baird offer a peek into “The Explorers Guild.”


  • Kevin Costner Academy Award-winning actor and director; co-author of “The Explorers Guild”
  • Jon Baird Author/illustrator of the novels "Day Job" and "Songs from Nowhere Near the Heart"; co-author of "The Explorers Guild"

Read An Excerpt

Excerpt from THE EXPLORERS GUILD by Kevin Costner and Jon Baird, with illustrations by Rick Ross. Copyright © 2015 by Kevin Costner, Jon Baird and Rick Ross. Reprinted by arrangement with Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

The Explorers Guild

View Illustrations


  • 11:06:53

    MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. A new book hit the shelves yesterday and you may recognize one of the names on the cover. Kevin Costner has teamed up with writer Jon Baird for his first foray into literature. It's called "The Explorers Guild: Volume One, A Passage To Shambhala." Evenly split between text and graphics, the story takes its cue from adventure tales of yesteryear, from Tin Tin and the work of Rudyard Kipling.

  • 11:07:29

    MS. DIANE REHMJoining me NPR studio in New York to discuss "The Explorers Guild" and more than three decades of movie-making, Kevin Costner and his co-author Jon Baird. I invite you, as always, to be part of the program. Give us a call, 800-433-8850. Send an email to Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And how good to have you both with us.

  • 11:08:04

    MR. KEVIN COSTNERThank you, Diane.

  • 11:08:06

    MR. JON BAIRDAnd it was a lovely talk up on the book. I don't think we'll be able to improve on that very much.

  • 11:08:09

    REHMOh, sure you will. First thing I want to know is how the two of you decided to do this together. Jon Baird, you start.

  • 11:08:21

    BAIRDYeah, well, it was eight or nine years ago, really. I was with my brother and a friend of ours taking around this wild, kind of half-formed idea about a secret society of explorers. We were presenting it as a return to that classic adventure storytelling and we were fortunate enough to be able to put it in front of Kevin and I think, as a fan of those same old stories we loved, he was drawn to it immediately.

  • 11:08:43

    BAIRDI think we both like that big canvas storytelling. We both like the idea of hidden places in the world and secret histories and the collaboration really sprang out of that.

  • 11:08:51

    REHMSo Jon, have you and Kevin been friends for a long time?

  • 11:08:59

    BAIRDNot before then.

  • 11:09:01


  • 11:09:01

    BAIRDI think I'd like to say there's a friendship that developed over the course of our working on this and then a few other projects, but...

  • 11:09:08

    REHMAnd Kevin Costner, what drew you to this?

  • 11:09:13

    COSTNERPardon me?

  • 11:09:14

    REHMWhat drew you to this?

  • 11:09:17

    COSTNERWell, I was asked to meet Jon and he came with his brother, Chris Barrett and Keith Quinn, and they were a writing team and they -- I wasn't sure what the meeting was going to be about, but I'm not afraid to go down the alleys of life. And, you know, it wasn't that dangerous. It was the Four Seasons so it wasn't like I was gonna, you know...

  • 11:09:44

    BAIRDMet them in an alley.

  • 11:09:45


  • 11:09:45

    REHMGet kidnapped or something.

  • 11:09:46

    COSTNERWell, it wasn't that. And so we met them without an agenda, other than the idea that he was introduced as a really great writer and someone that I should meet. And I trusted my friend to meet him. And Jon began to explain to me a story, the kind of thing that they were interested in maybe doing. And he rambled and stuttered his way through. And I have to admit I really didn't quite understand what he was talking about.

  • 11:10:18

    COSTNERBut I could sense there was something in him and I said, look, why don't we meet again? Maybe I'll get a better grasp of what you were saying a week from now. And I invited him up to the house. He kind of went through the same thing again and I have to admit that I didn't quite understand it, but I liked the idea. I liked the idea of working with him and supporting this idea.

  • 11:10:46

    COSTNERAnd we actually worked on animation for about a year and a half trying to tell this story. And upon completing that, I was so kind of thrilled with the direction we were going that I thought that the world that I came from, movie-making, would fall in love with this idea, this big kind of storytelling. And, of course, not a single soul got it. They all saw that it was beautiful. They all thought it was amazing, but they just stand on the sidelines.

  • 11:11:17

    COSTNERThey weren't sure where to do with this. And out of that, that was the beginning of our relationship. It was about three years later, Jon said, look, let's just do what I always wanted to do, which is write a book.

  • 11:11:31

    REHMHuh. Write a book, but it's a graphic novel.

  • 11:11:37

    BAIRDYeah, well, the previous books I had put out have graphic components to them as well.

  • 11:11:42

    REHMI see.

  • 11:11:42

    BAIRDAnd this was always part of it, that we wanted to, you know, along with the text, have some sort of graphic features in it. But when we found an artist of the caliber of Rick Ross, the guy who has illustrated this entire piece, which if you see it, that's heck of a lot of illustration, did it single-handed, I wasn't going to be shy about deploying Rick.

  • 11:12:04

    REHMI'll tell you...

  • 11:12:05

    COSTNERAnd don’t forget, I come from the world of storyboards with my movies and sometimes I, you know, I will storyboard certain sequences in order to help myself visualize where we want to go. And I think that the beauty of what Jon was able to do was that you don’t just come to a cold stop when you're reading the book. These panels serve as the narration going forward so you don't just ponder them. You actually -- you can't really tell -- the story doesn't start and stop. It runs right through both the text and the panels.

  • 11:12:45

    REHMOkay. Now, just to give our listeners a sense of what this novel is about, Kevin, do you have the book in front of you?

  • 11:12:57

    COSTNERYeah, I do, actually.

  • 11:12:58


  • 11:12:58

    COSTNERI don't know if people can -- yeah, I know you know that I have it.

  • 11:13:01

    REHMOkay. Now, what I want you to do is start reading for us, if you would.

  • 11:13:11

    COSTNERYou know, I don't have my glasses. I didn't bring my glasses, but I could shift this book over to Jon. Is that gonna be okay?

  • 11:13:17

    REHMOkay. Shift it over to Jon.

  • 11:13:20

    BAIRDIt's about 780 pages. How much time do we have?

  • 11:13:24

    REHMOkay. Here's what I want you to do. Start with "gentle reader," and if we have time, go over to the middle of page 11 with the sarcophagus at the bottom of that page, okay? Are you...

  • 11:13:48

    BAIRDOkay. I'm going to apologize in advance -- sorry?

  • 11:13:50

    REHMAre you a fast reader?

  • 11:13:53

    BAIRDWell, no, and I don't have the voice -- I feel like I need the voice of Gielgud for this to give it -- it's just going to be in my voice.

  • 11:13:59

    COSTNERJust read it, would you, for crying out loud? She asked you to read it. Read it.

  • 11:14:04


  • 11:14:05

    BAIRD"Gentle reader" -- you know what I don't have is when you read it, you're just impressed by your own...

  • 11:14:10

    COSTNERJust read it. Just read it.

  • 11:14:12

    BAIRD"The cities of the world, or the decent ones, I should say, have in common a certain unassuming door and you may find it if you're hunting in the quieter districts with an eye to thing that not exactly hidden, but designed rather to discourage notice. The tourist literature carry nothing about it and it will be so familiar to the mind of the local that he would not dream of pointing you there. But I can tell you, by way of marking one out for you, that there are typically three things on or about this door, a flagstaff, a weather-effaced coat-of-arms, and always some representation of the Latin motto 'Cognoscere.'

  • 11:14:42

    BAIRDYour next discovery, unless you're only noting the door and passing on, which I understand counts for sport among a certain class of traveler, but I say, you'll find next that the door has no lock and that no matter where you are in whatever corner of the world, once you have entered through it, you will set foot on a turkey runner and you'll hear a muffled creaking as the planks beneath it take your weight. You'll be assailed by smells of sandalwood, cigar smoke, gun oil, aged paper and preserved animal hide and you will see all about you the trophies and mementoes of travel and recurring motifs of cartography and navigation.

  • 11:15:14

    BAIRDThere is, in fact, such a pronounced uniformity to the scene that if you've relived it in more than once city, you'll experience a moment's dislocation or deja vu as though there were a thousand doors from Boston to Bangalore all giving in to this same vestibule. In the colder latitudes, there will be a fire kept in the front hall. If ice is available, you'll hear it rattling in tumblers. The language of conversation, for there's always a drone of conversation, will vary by locale as will the complexion of the speakers, though not, again, as much as you might suppose.

  • 11:15:41

    BAIRDOtherwise, the gentlemen of the outer rooms tend to be, 'citizens of the world types,' inclining to stoutness and to age, most of the considerably well off and all with at least one story of personal exploit they're keen to share. They will tell you, certainly, if asked, even odds if not, that 'Cognoscere' means to know from the Latin. They may also tell you this motto comes from an old fable in which a boy vanishes from a cathedral in Manila and appears three days later calling out from a storm drain outside the Bruneian summer palace.

  • 11:16:07

    BAIRDThe boy, pulled from the drain and carried half dead to his mother, utters the word, 'Cognoscere' and faints into that good lady's arms. It's not the most entertaining fable, as things go, but the gentlemen who tell it say it is the very model of adventure and a fine illustration of 'Cognoscere' as they construe the word in these halls. A boy, you see, desires to know where the Spanish catacombs lead and with no more motive than this, carrying his life in his hands, expecting of I know not what, he goes headlong into the darkness.

  • 11:16:34

    BAIRDFor his pains, he finds not only the answer to the catacomb's riddle, but an old escape tunnel of the maharajahs, a think disused for centuries that you can pay eight Philippine pesos for a tour of today. And the boy's name, the old men will conclude with a pretentious life of eyebrow, dipping a match to a pipe bowl, that boy's name was Augustus, which I don't suppose will mean very much to you, but they'll take a few meditative puffs and add, founder of our little club, you know.

  • 11:16:58

    BAIRDThat is to say, it's not just a fable, this story. Some very real boy had had this self same adventure beneath the Philippine city and a great many other adventures besides and had lived, eventually, to found this not altogether secret order of kindred souls into which you have stumbled, for you are among explorers now, if you have not yet guessed it. It is their object and the raison d'etre of the society to throw light into the shadowed corners of the earth just as the boy, Augustus, felt he must map out the darkness beneath Manila in his own day.

  • 11:17:24

    BAIRDThe desire to know is the impetus to action, you see. Ideally with an element of risk and crowned with some revelation or discovery in some yet unknown portion of the world."

  • 11:17:33

    COSTNERThat's pretty good, Jon.

  • 11:17:33

    REHMAnd yet, you...

  • 11:17:35

    BAIRDI can do it faster. Let me give that another shot.

  • 11:17:37

    REHMNo. Jon, you have made your reading debut on National Public Radio and I think it...

  • 11:17:45

    BAIRDAll right. The rest is gonna be Kevin.

  • 11:17:45

    REHMIt was terrific.

  • 11:17:48

    COSTNERIt was.

  • 11:17:48

    REHMAnd now, we have to take a short break. Kevin Costner and Jon Baird are with me. The book is titled "The Explorers Guild: Volume One." Stay with us.

  • 11:20:03

    REHMAnd we're back with Jon Baird and Kevin Costner, the co-authors of the new book titled "The Explorers Guild: Volume One." It is absolutely a gorgeous book from cover to cover, and it is an illustrated book. I want to know, Jon Baird, since you've told us that the word cognoscere means to know, so how does that theme relate to what happens in this book?

  • 11:20:47

    BAIRDThat's an excellent question, and actually a little bit farther on in that passage, the men of the -- and women of the inner guild develop that meaning a little bit more. It's less just to know than to discover a thing that is already known by somebody else. And this is -- I think if we're making -- one of the sort of pillars of this story is we talk a lot about curiosity, what a deep and consuming drive that can be, and the desire to know as an impetus to action and discovery and always, you know, at certain costs and with certain risks.

  • 11:21:24

    BAIRDFor us it's interesting to see the effect that curiosity has on our characters, where it leads them for better and for worse, but also there's a good reason why we start off with a big illustration of an open door. We're hoping to inspire readers with that same kind of curiosity on a few different levels.

  • 11:21:41

    REHMSo here's what I want to know. Kevin Costner, how did you participate in this book, and how did Jon participate? How did you work together?

  • 11:21:54

    COSTNERWell, after we had run through the two-and-a-half years of developing animation and understanding that the story that we wanted to tell, we realized that no one was going to let us tell that. And what we did was we shifted to I think what Jon's original inspiration and his background was, which was writing books. And so it started off as Jon was going to write the book. I didn't really see myself, you know, participating at that point.

  • 11:22:23

    COSTNERAnd just more or less protecting Jon and saying -- I said okay, let's write -- you write the book. And I think Jon can speak better to my own participation because it kind of -- it kind of just unfolded.

  • 11:22:37

    BAIRDYeah, it was nothing we ever really game-planned, but as pages started coming in, I think it was very natural for Kevin just to slip into it like he would any other project. It started in a very general, kind of shaping-it way, but he was very soon adding characters and storylines and dialogue, and a certain point it ceased to be something that was mine that he was giving input on, and it was something that was ours that we were working on together.

  • 11:23:02

    REHMOkay, but there are four main characters you have here. You have the British officer. His brother is dying. He can only be saved in the city. Then you have a mysterious Romanian nobleman. You have a 19-year-old actress. And you have a seven-year-old orphan boy. And he's the one who seems to be carrying all the city's secrets. Tell us about that seven-year-old boy.

  • 11:23:39

    COSTNERWell, he's -- Bertram of course we're talking about, and I don't -- he seems to roam through our book. If anybody is listening out there, I hope so because of your name, Diane, not ours, if you ever remember the old Popeye cartoons.

  • 11:23:58


  • 11:24:00

    COSTNERWhere he was kind of sleepwalking from girder to girder or Swee'Pea the baby would crawl, and you would think certainly it's going to fall to its death, but a girder would magically appear underneath it. And it was just this strange ballet that took place. Bertram is this little boy that has been plucked from this city and has secrets. He's not the only one, but he's the one we travel with. And what he -- the knowledge is so important to people that they're willing to literally scour his brain for the secret. He has a cork in his head, if you will.

  • 11:24:42

    COSTNERHe's a sad little ragamuffin, could've appeared in "Oliver Twist" if you would -- if you really can visualize him. And he is roaming the world in the hands of these very alpha-male characters, these mercenaries, if you will. He's surrounded by violent people, and yet he seems to coast -- he coasts through life and our silent screen star, Evelyn, who has made a -- she's just -- she's made a wreck of men wherever she's gone, she knows how to manipulate them, being this silent screen star, has no real apparent mothering skills.

  • 11:25:22

    COSTNERShe's the last one you would think would take any kind of interest in this little boy, actually starts to. So mothering instincts actually come about as the book, you know, works its way toward the end. So this little boy is -- starts in an orphanage. We don't know a lot about him, but we realize that a lot of people are after him.

  • 11:25:47

    REHMSo Jon Baird, as you thought about this little boy, Bertram, how did you convey what you wanted him to look like to your illustrator-collaborator, Rick Ross?

  • 11:26:04

    BAIRDWell, I had a pretty long background in illustration and art direction myself, which is no qualitative judgment on my skills, but I had early on, and the stuff I was presenting to Kevin, was able to make sort of conceptual drawings of this Bertram and everything from the narrowness and droop of his shoulders to the sort of long-suffering look on his face. Kevin mentions he's had some operations, we're not sure what they are, on his head, that sort of bandaging on his head, you know, really sort of put a cross that this boy is kind of out there in the world, very vulnerable, and needs to be protected and kind of, you know, escorted through the world.

  • 11:26:43

    BAIRDBut he's -- we find him -- we find -- you know, when you see the frailty of him set against, as Kevin says, not only the violence of the men around him but the, you know, the very hard -- we're talking about World War I as our backdrop. We're talking about men who were even -- and some women who were even more violent, staging more violent things than what's going on in the war. And somehow through their midst, there's this Bertram. I think it's very instinctive, whether you're a parent or not, just to sort of want to look out for this kid.

  • 11:27:11

    REHMNow the actual Explorers Club, isn't there in New York that sort of acted as the inspiration for this book? And if so, what did they do? Kevin?

  • 11:27:31

    COSTNERWell, this was, believe it or not, the idea of the Explorer's Club was brought to Jon by a close friend of his wife, who had seen an article on the Explorers Club in New York and kind of came to Jon at some point and said Jon, I think this is a really interesting group of people. And I think it started out as simple as that, actually. Wasn't it -- wasn't it Keith's wife that brought to your attention the Explorers Club?

  • 11:27:59

    BAIRDThat's right, as a kind of hub of what could be really innumerable stories, a fictionalized version of them. At a certain point early on in our progress, they saw another one of these kind of conceptual things that I had mocked up of a lobby of what, you know, we think the front rooms of our guild would look like, and the comment was, when did you guys get in here to have a look at this place. It was really, you know, we had taken sort of the essence of we thought -- what the thought the club would be and portrayed it, and they really dug it.

  • 11:28:28

    REHMAll right, here's a caller from Wilmington, Delaware, Julian you're on the air.

  • 11:28:34

    JULIANYes, thank you, Diane. That's Wilmington, North Carolina.

  • 11:28:37


  • 11:28:39

    JULIANI'm certainly looking forward to reading the book. I'm a fellow with the Explorers Club and a fellow with the Royal Geographical Society. And I was curious as to whether or not the authors had actually reached out to the club during their research.

  • 11:28:54


  • 11:28:54

    BAIRDThere was some dialogue very early on. We talked to them, I think they were fans of some of Kevin's work. In terms of a creative partnership, none developed there, but there definitely was an affinity with that type, and I think they were excited to see where we'd go with it.

  • 11:29:14

    JULIANI hope you reach out to them to possibly do a book signing there. I'm sure they would be open to that.

  • 11:29:18

    BAIRDOh, that sounds cool.

  • 11:29:21

    COSTNERTo think there's such a group that's been around for such a long time, I also think also in the infancy of doing this, there was also maybe a little reticence, you know, on their part, maybe even on our part, that it was, like, look, you take your club very seriously. What if these authors weren't going to take your club so seriously? So, you know, aligning themselves early probably was just something that we said you know what, we don't want to try to convince them that we're going to treat this seriously and have fun with it also at the same time.

  • 11:29:53

    COSTNERSo it was just better to separate ourselves, the Explorers Guild, but the inspiration, you know, in a large way comes from your club.

  • 11:30:05

    REHMThat's great. Tell me about the importance you see of making this a graphic novel and not just a novel, Kevin.

  • 11:30:18

    COSTNERWell, you have to understand I have a real big sports background. I make Westerns. So I'm kind of a jock. So it makes sense that I want to have a book that has a lot of pictures in it.

  • 11:30:31

    REHMYou mean you'd rather look at pictures?

  • 11:30:34

    COSTNERYeah, exactly. I would...

  • 11:30:37

    BAIRDIt was supposed to be a coloring book initially.

  • 11:30:37

    COSTNEROn "Treasure Island," I wanted to rush to those incredible pictures, but I somehow secretly knew that I had to earn those 60 pages of reading to get to the picture. I knew it was some kind of dessert. I wanted to go always to the middle, and by the time I got there, I wished there was more. You know, I've always been mesmerized by imagery as much as the straight word, the written word. And...

  • 11:31:05

    REHMSure, and for you, Jon, I mean, the idea of making it a graphic novel, I mean, why was that so important to you?

  • 11:31:17

    BAIRDWell, I should say it's not what people traditionally think of as a graphic novel. It kind of goes between forms.

  • 11:31:22


  • 11:31:22

    BAIRDYou know, there are sort of extended blocks of texts.

  • 11:31:26


  • 11:31:26

    BAIRDAnd it will -- some are illustrated, and then it goes into the panels. For me, just as a reader, there are times when I'm perfectly happy to develop these pictures in my mind of what's going on, you know, just strictly extrapolating from the words, and then there are times for whatever reason I want to see. I want to see, you know, the size of this room or, you know, how far this person has to go, you know, to reach the next citadel. Or, you know, I do want to see the size and shape of things, and I do want to see how an artist would present that.

  • 11:31:56

    BAIRDHaving -- having the capability to shift between one mode of storytelling I thought enhanced the experience. So, you know, what we developed was just kind of using our nose. There was no real formula to it. It just seemed that there were certain times where it called for more of a text-based approach and then sometimes shifting into -- shifting into the graphics.

  • 11:32:15

    REHMThat's great. All right, to Neal in Raleigh, North Carolina. You're on the air.

  • 11:32:21

    NEALFellows, Diane, how are you guys doing?

  • 11:32:24


  • 11:32:27

    NEALI just want to say, for your apprehensive reader Jon there, that listening to those pages was -- reminded me of when one starts, like, the "Master and Commander" series, the 21 books that came out or the Tolkien series. There's a twitch there, you know, as a middle-aged man. You know, there's still that desire to seek about what's going on and the exploration and the wonder of the world. And I just hope that, you know, even at -- even at almost 800 pages, I hope you've got more material because the "Master and Commander" series went 21 books.

  • 11:33:22

    REHMYeah, I'm sure you have many more books coming, and you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. I mean frankly, this is "The Explorers Guild: Volume One." How many more are planned, Kevin?

  • 11:33:39

    COSTNERWell, I think that was a little bit arrogant on our part. We put that on the book there. It showed a certain conceit or something, I'm not sure, but...

  • 11:33:50

    REHMOr a tease, maybe a tease.

  • 11:33:54

    COSTNERWe took our -- you know what we did when -- we really took our time. I mean, it obviously sets up that it could be potentially a movie, but the one thing that was very important in the writing of the book was that I didn't want to have the book look like a signpost to the movie. We really wanted it to exist as a novel. So it took its time and it took its time for the very kind of calls that we're getting.

  • 11:34:20

    COSTNERI love what these guys are saying, and I'm sure there's women out there listening, but I love what I'm hearing because we made that book for guys that -- and people who even when they were young used to have their flashlight, they couldn't put the book down, the parents are knocking on the door, going you've got to put the book down. And of course the flashlight went out, but your imagination never stopped.

  • 11:34:43

    REHMOf course.

  • 11:34:44

    COSTNERAnd we wanted to make a book, you know, that had the kind of heroes that didn't solve their problems with ray guns, that they would find themselves in some jungle, in some castle, and they had to get out with their wits, and usually that meant just their fists. There's something very organic about "The Explorers Guild," you know, for me and the kind of men that we're going to run into. They've got kind of got a lot of hard bark on them, if you will. And we took our time with the first book, and we've kind of -- we laid our foundation.

  • 11:35:20

    COSTNERAnd with the hub of "The Explorers Guild," we can branch out, and Jon and I have been talking about the next book. We were just talking about it, walking Central Park this morning before coming on the show. And just about the time we said we never want to write again, here we were, like Pacino in "The Godfather," going you sucked me right...

  • 11:35:39

    BAIRDHe's pulling me back in.

  • 11:35:41

    COSTNERYou pulled me right back in. We're sitting there looking out at the ice rink that hasn't been filled with water yet there in Central Park, and pretty soon people are going to be skating, and we're sitting here talking about the book, and we're doing it for the very reason, and I hear in these callers' voices, that it is great as a middle-aged man. I mean, there's no ceiling on who can enjoy this book certainly, and to say there are places that are still untouched.

  • 11:36:11

    COSTNERAnd our sincerest hope is that our book will take its place alongside those books that we remembered in the last century. I think we're wondering the books of our century belong, who's going to write them.

  • 11:36:21

    REHMKind of like "The Arabian Nights," "The Red Badge of Courage." I mean, these are great stories. Jon Baird, before we take a break, which we're going to do in just a few seconds, tell me, who designed this gorgeous cover? It's absolutely magnificent.

  • 11:36:44

    BAIRDThe illustrations are Rick's. The design comes by way of Albert Tang, art director at Atria, our publisher, who we can't thank enough. The fellow who actually did the design, I have not been able to meet him yet. He's -- Jim Tierney is his name, good Irish boy, and I have not -- I thought when we came to New York we'd get to meet this guy. So he's out there somewhere, but yes, I think he's done a dynamite job.

  • 11:37:09


  • 11:37:10

    COSTNERDiane, if you take the dustcover off, take the dustcover off.

  • 11:37:12


  • 11:37:12

    COSTNERAnd look underneath. Take that off and now look at the cover.

  • 11:37:14

    REHMOf course. Oh, it's gorgeous.

  • 11:37:17

    COSTNERYeah, I always feel that those eventually get ripped, as they do, and kind of imagine that the reader, when he finally pulls the dustcover off, actually looks at the cover that we designed and kind of suddenly falls in love with the book all over again.

  • 11:37:31

    REHMAh, beautiful. Kevin Costner, Jon Baird, co-authors of "The Explorers Guild: Volume One." Short break. We'll be right back.

  • 11:40:02

    REHMSo many wonderful comments. First, however, a book -- a question from Sue, in Fairfax, Va. "What age group is the book intended for? Is it an adult book or is it appropriate for teenagers, even pre-teens? My 13-year-old daughter loves fantasy books, as well as graphic novels. So I'm wondering would this be something she'd like." Kevin?

  • 11:40:39

    COSTNERGo ahead, Jon.

  • 11:40:42

    REHMJon, Jon.

  • 11:40:42


  • 11:40:43

    REHMGo ahead, Jon.

  • 11:40:43

    BAIRDI think that there's no sort of top end to it. We're not maybe the best folks to speak about demographics and quadrants and this, but there's certainly no ceiling on who can read this. In terms of how young it reaches, we're gonna get a little bit of this feedback, I think, as we move it into the world. I think our initial idea was for -- this isn't necessarily for young kids, but, you know, as you get to 12 to 13, those folks who are into reading…

  • 11:41:09


  • 11:41:10

    BAIRD…and don't mind a little bit of length, I think they can reach up to something like this. I think it would be, you know, good for that sort of…

  • 11:41:17

    COSTNERIf they can take a shot of whiskey and not cough, then they can -- after -- just -- then they're probably just, you know, if they're just willing to wipe it off their chin I think they're probably gonna go for "The Explorers Guild."

  • 11:41:30


  • 11:41:30

    BAIRDStrong enough to lift it.

  • 11:41:32

    REHMHere's a tweet from Chrissy. This is wonderful. She says, "Oh, @drshow, I could see, hear and smell everything @Explorers Guild. Sounds wonderful. And Jon was a great reader.

  • 11:41:51

    BAIRDGod bless you.

  • 11:41:52

    REHM"I'll be looking for doors." So Jon, here's the question, are you ready to read the rest of that gentle reader chapter?

  • 11:42:07

    BAIRDAll right. You stop when we we're over time.

  • 11:42:09

    REHMOkay. But you're gonna start at it may surprise you…

  • 11:42:14

    BAIRDIt may surprise you, yes.

  • 11:42:14

    REHM…and go over to the end.

  • 11:42:18

    BAIRDOkay. "It may surprise you, as you survey the rather settled old types in the club's outer rooms, that each man here has inked his own blank space on one map or another. Indeed, it is a requisite of membership that he would have done so. And I believe most here can represent credibly that they have. It may be that some of the newer memberships were won by dint of discovering a novel way up Kilimanjaro.

  • 11:42:38

    BAIRDOr by standing for a portrait in some square of desert or jungle where Christian man had so far strictly omitted to set his foot. But what of that? We needn't all be Da Gamas. And you may appreciate, what with the advance of man and the dwindling of the undiscovered places and so forth, that the opportunities for today's explorer mightn't be what they once were. Now, you're free to form your own opinion of these men. I hesitate to call them ridiculous myself.

  • 11:43:01

    BAIRDI find them to be first-rate dinner company, for one thing. And I say this having a wide experience of tables. Nor have they mislead you exactly on the origins or the purpose of our club. Though, the story of young Augustus is on several points fallacious, let us set that aside. Yet, I wouldn't leave you with them too long either. For just as all about the place you'll discover wheels within wheels and meanings within meanings, so you'll see a distinction between our outer rooms and the inner, and the corresponding memberships of each.

  • 11:43:24

    BAIRDTo know what truly goes on here I say we'll have to leave these bluff old men to their pipes and papers and venture in a bit deeper. You'll learn, for instance, on penetrating to the quiet inner rooms of the club that the motto 'Cognoscere' is imperfectly rendered as to know. For the Greeks and Romans it meant something more like to acknowledge a thing already known, which will give you a slightly developed sense of our mission. We are constituted to explore and to extend men's knowledge of the world, it is true.

  • 11:43:48

    BAIRDBut never with the sense that the unknown is unknown to anyone but man himself. It is modernity's boast, of course, that man has mapped and measured, claimed and contested this Earth down to its inch. He has tamed its moods and subdued its monsters and lit it from end to end with the fires of his ingenuity, so we are assured. Yet, we who have been canvassing this Earth, the same Earth, through the centuries, who have been every place on it that you would care to go and many more that you would not, we incline to a different view. We find there are elements and beings insist of intelligence no less baffling to the modern mind than they were to the ancients.

  • 11:44:20

    BAIRDAnd we find these not only to exist, but to coexist with the ones we know, in places and in ways that our sciences cannot predict, nor our reason explain. There's a whole unknown world as we see it, that does not diminish with the advance of man. It rather waits, whether in recognition of us or no, 'til our inquisitive spirits, our pioneers, and inevitably our blunderers rend that veil between our world and theirs and bring humanity in communion with a dark unknown. This will all sound a bit wild to you, I do not doubt. Yet, I have been myself in the margins of the Earth and have seen such things at first hand.

  • 11:44:50

    BAIRDI would tell you this unknown world is like nothing you have ever dreamt, but that you might have dreamt it exactly. I would tell you it lies far removed from you, dear reader, but that it features in all things, in the night like a tide, brings it right to your window. And just as this unknown world lies at the heart of all inquiry in the inner chambers of our club, so it represents the subject of the accounts that follow. I would give you, in these pages, a glimpse into terror incognito and a view of its inhabitants now that you have discovered your own door, as it were, into the Explorers Guild."

  • 11:45:18

    REHMAnd signed?

  • 11:45:19

    BAIRDAnd, oh, signed, E.W. Blake, series curator. He signs it from the (unintelligible) valley in France, 19-something.

  • 11:45:26


  • 11:45:28

    BAIRDWith an unspecified date in the last century.

  • 11:45:32

    REHMThat's just great. And that was, of course, a reading by Jon Baird of the new book he's co-written with Kevin Costner. It's titled, "The Explorers Guild: Volume One." And you may just have heard a description of possibly what may come next, either in this volume or the yet unwritten second volume. Let's go back to the phones, 800-433-8850. Let's go to Barbara, in Indianapolis. You're on the air. For some -- there we go.

  • 11:46:22


  • 11:46:23

    REHMBarbara, are you there?

  • 11:46:24

    BARBARAI am.

  • 11:46:25

    REHMGo right ahead, please.

  • 11:46:28

    BARBARAI have a question and then I have a comment.

  • 11:46:30


  • 11:46:30

    BARBARAThe question is for Kevin. As you were describing your young man in the story, I could almost envision the young lady that you had in "Water World," as being the wandering, unknowing treasure, I would say, of many, many evil people that you're pursuing.

  • 11:46:52

    REHMAll right.

  • 11:46:53

    BARBARADid you (unintelligible)…

  • 11:46:55

    COSTNERI didn't quite understand that. Maybe you can help me with that, Diane.

  • 11:47:01

    REHMAll right.

  • 11:47:01

    COSTNERIt was a little bit warbled.

  • 11:47:02

    REHMNow, she's talking about the young boy in this book and it reminds her of the young girl character in "Water World."

  • 11:47:14

    COSTNERYes, yes.

  • 11:47:15

    REHMAnd did you have that character in mind while you were writing this book?

  • 11:47:24

    COSTNERIt's so funny how people see things. I didn't at all, but I -- now I feel like an idiot because it absolutely exists there. You know, the map on her back, that sense of exploration, the sense of kind of individual that would -- like myself, that would wander and be comfortable wandering to any parts of the world. But the little girl holding the secrets, I wouldn't call it a formula, but it's very effective. And Bertram does represent that little girl in the same way that she is represented in "Water World." So you're absolutely right.

  • 11:48:02

    REHMAnd, Jon, what do you think of that comparison?

  • 11:48:07

    BAIRDIt seems very apt. And one of the sort of fun and interesting things is as we, you know, we come out from our cave with this thing and start to interact with readers, we'll be seeing these parallels. It, you know, it may be that we've just trotted out kind of a hoary old trope and I apologize. I hope there are some sort of entertaining distinctions between the one and the two, but it also is just as interesting to feel like oh, there's a, you know, there's a -- the reason that this must have sort of landed with us was for connections like that, whether consciously or not.

  • 11:48:37

    REHMAll right. Here's a Facebook comment from Susan, who says, "Kevin and Jon need to recognize women are at the forefront of exploration, too. As an anthropology professor," she says, "I've traveled all over the Middle East, hiked in Antarctica, traversed jungles, etcetera. And I'm sedentary compared to many colleagues. You guys might just consider a female coauthor, given the male-centric summary just provided."

  • 11:49:18

    COSTNERWell, I never mistake how formidable women can be or the need to have them around and be close. I actually depend on some of the bigger decisions of my life when it comes to women. So you're right.

  • 11:49:35

    REHMGive me an example, Kevin. Give me an example.

  • 11:49:38

    COSTNERWhat's that?

  • 11:49:40

    REHMGive me an example of what you mean when you say you turn to women for some of the bigger decisions in your life.

  • 11:49:52

    COSTNERWell, I could even -- I can even, you know, my -- I sent my daughter away to college. She went to Brown University. And I remember having have to change her diapers, obviously. I remember having to drive her to school. But now she's a 30-year-old woman. And a young woman who is making her way in the world. And because she has -- because she's gone to Chile by herself, she's been in Venezuela, she's been chased in the middle of the night and had to confront someone with a knife.

  • 11:50:19

    COSTNERShe has a lot of world experience. My daughter is someone I depend on in some certain choices I make in my life. My wife, my greatest partner, I turn to for decisions in my life. I have a lifelong friends that are women. I, you know, without citing, you know, absolute examples, you have to know that inside what I'm saying that those exist.

  • 11:50:54

    REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Let's go to Sarah, in Louisville, Ky. You're on the air.

  • 11:51:07

    SARAHHi, Diane. Thank you so much for taking my call.

  • 11:51:10


  • 11:51:10

    SARAHI was just wanting to say how excited I was. As it's maybe been presented as a movie prior to being a book, I would have run with my son to go see it. But after listening to the show, I am so excited. I have a 14-year-old son and I can't wait to get this book and maybe take turns just reading it and discussing it, which in this day you don't really have. I mean, my son is on Xbox all day long, on his cellphone, but this sort of inspired me to get back to things that are important, just reading. I mean, I was so absolutely just enthralled. I can't wait to pick up the book.

  • 11:52:02

    REHMI'm so glad, Sarah, that you called, that you've related your enthusiasm. Jon, what do you think?

  • 11:52:12

    BAIRDOh, I think that's -- it's such a wonderful call. I think that's exactly our intent here, is that, you know, when you're asking before, you know, who's this aimed at. It's really aimed kind of a cross-generational reading experience. The kind of thing that can be handed down between mothers and sons, fathers and daughters. That's -- bringing people together through that sort of shared experience. Kevin was telling me, not too long ago, about this heartbreaking story of trying to keep his kids at the dinner table by reading them passages of "Moby Dick," which lasted about three nights before he had to pack it in.

  • 11:52:43

    BAIRDThat's kind of a slog for kids. I think, you know, I'm hoping that this somehow gets to what your caller is talking about and to what we are looking for, which is the inspiration we got from these old stories, to transmit that to younger people and see in them these worlds opening. I should also just quickly say, it's difficult in promoting this. You know, everything has to be kind of given in summary form a little bit. I think as you crack the book, the importance of one female principle character in particular and then, you know, there are a few others sprinkled around, they really start to take over.

  • 11:53:16

    BAIRDYou know, I think we present it as a very sort of standard, you know, manly affair, in a throwback sort of way. But the way that women operate in this world is, to me, one of the more interesting parts of it. And the evolution that are character Evelyn takes is, for me, one of the more -- one of the -- at the emotional sort of core of the piece.

  • 11:53:33

    REHMYou know, I'm looking at the…

  • 11:53:35

    BAIRDStrictly for gents.

  • 11:53:37

    REHM…first passages that are the graphic images. And you begin in the Arctic. How come?

  • 11:53:48

    BAIRDIt happens to be where -- I think you mentioned at the top of the show, there was a British Army officer whose brother is dying. Well, his brother is -- we mentioned inner and outer rooms of the Guild. There's a kind of a puffed-up old gentleman's club on the outside of the Guild. And these are the sort of the more comic semi-public face of it. We have one of these gentlemen explorers who, out of the result of a dare with his cousin, finds himself in the Arctic. And he has no business being there. And then he happens to stumble across this city that then becomes the object of everybody else's search.

  • 11:54:21

    BAIRDSo that -- it's kind of an elaborate explanation for why this very settled, rich person, who has no business exploring, ends up, you know, right up near the North Pole. But when he gets there, he makes the kind of blunder that sets off the rest of the action.

  • 11:54:35

    REHMAll right. Let's go, finally, to Brad, in Harrisburg, Pa. You're on the air.

  • 11:54:44

    BRADYeah, hi. Thank you. Enjoy your show all the time. And…

  • 11:54:47

    REHMThank you.

  • 11:54:47

    BRAD…I wanted to express to Kevin Costner that your projects -- I'm very excited to hear this new project and your creativity is non-ending. And your projects always are authored by this voice that you have, which I call the voice of every man, with a rasp of sincerity and a soft-spoken truth. And I just think that really comes through in all your projects. And there's such an authenticity to them. And I've always appreciated your work.

  • 11:55:21

    COSTNERThat's a -- that was a beautiful thing to hear. I don't know how my life has worked out the way it has. I know I was a kid that couldn't wait for the bell at recess. I wasn't a great student. I wanted to be out there and play in any part of that playground. And I wanted life to kind of go on that way, although you -- sometimes people slap you across the face and go how are you gonna make a living? And you say, well, I'll tell stories, you know. And there's guarantee you're ever gonna be paid.

  • 11:55:54

    COSTNERBut I have -- I've really benefitted from great writing. My whole career stands because of writers. I don't have that dazzling a personality that I could just stand in front of the camera for two hours and wow you. I've really -- my -- the arc of what I've had has been on the backs of good writers. And so it's something that I protect, I appreciate, I have attempted to dabble in and eventually threw myself in, you know, into the deep end with Jon Baird.

  • 11:56:30

    COSTNERAnd I would like to say this to the people who really love and appreciate books that I don't know if I could have written this book myself. In fact, I'm almost positive I couldn't have written "Explorer's Guild" by myself. What is absolutely clear to me is Jon Baird could have written "Explorer's Guild" by himself. He's an exquisite writer. He's a writer for this century, for our generation.

  • 11:56:56

    COSTNERSomeone we've done too little talking about at this point is Rick Ross, who I think, as an aside to you -- and again, I'm kind of deflecting how flattered I was what you said about me. So I'm talking about these other guys, doing this quick tap dance because I was moved by what you said. But I do want to say, if we don't get to Rick Ross it will be a mistake 'cause for those of you who like side stories…

  • 11:57:19

    REHMWe've got to -- and we've got to stop. That's when time…

  • 11:57:25

    BAIRDThe story of Rick's life.

  • 11:57:28

    REHM…runs out. Rick Ross is the illustrator, Kevin Costner and Jon Baird, co-authors…

  • 11:57:33

    COSTNERI apologize.

  • 11:57:36

    REHM…of "The Explorer's Guild." Thank you all so much.

  • 11:57:40

    BAIRDThank you.

  • 11:57:43

    REHMAnd thanks for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.

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