K-PAX Author Gene Brewer '59 Says He Got "Writing Bug" at DePauw

K-PAX Author Gene Brewer '59 Says He Got "Writing Bug" at DePauw

May 3, 2002

May 3, 2002, Greencastle, Ind. - K-PAX author and 1959 DePauw University graduate Gene Brewer explained to an audience at his alma mater how he went "from chemist, to biochemist, to author" and that DePauw played a part in his career choices. Brewer's book was made into a movie of the same name that premiered in October 2001 and starred Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges. It was the number one movie in the country for the week it opened. The film has now been released in Europe and Japan. K-PAX the book, about a psychiatrist and his patient who claims to be from another planet, has been published in 20 countries.

The DePauw student chapter of the American Chemical Society invited Brewer to speak Thursday afternoon, May 2. Brewer related to the students how he majored in chemistry at DePauw, later earned a doctorate in biochemistry and eventually taught at two medical schools. He credited DePauw with preparing him for a career as a scientist and for planting the seed that led him to writing.

Two of Brewer's science professors from his DePauw days -- Donald J. Cook, professor emeritus of chemistry, and Forst Fuller '38, professor emeritus of zoology -- attended the speech. "I still remember many incidents with these professors, and it was a lot of fun," said Brewer, who had the opportunity reminisce with the professors (he's seen at left with Dr. Cook). "I came to DePauw on a Rector Scholarship," Brewer continued. "When I got here, one of the people who encouraged me was Ed Galligan. He was an English professor, and he put the writing bug in me." Brewer said that the interest in writing stirred in him as a DePauw student stayed with him until he decided to leave science and begin writing books in 1979.

"Something was going wrong in the world at the time. The ozone layer was disappearing, rain forests were being cut, and greenhouse gases were warming up the earth," Brewer said. "What I really wanted to do was educate people about what's happening to the earth before it's too late." Therefore, he incorporates environmental messages into his books.

To the student audience he emphasized that persistence was the key to his Hollywood producers. "I'm here to tell you that you can do anything and be anything you want to be. It really is true," he said. 

Brewer's second book, On a Beam of Light, was published in 2001, and has written another book scheduled for release this summer. Brewer also said he expects there will be a sequel to the K-PAX movie, but it hasn't been scheduled.

Prior to the speech, the DePauw chemistry department faculty presented several awards to students, who had their photo taken with Brewer. The author and alumnus also signed copies of his books following the presentation.

Learn more about Dr. Brewer in this previous story.