Monday 5 March 2012

Do the movies move me?

It’s an odd thing, this shifting of goalposts. At first you hardly notice it. The prospect of an agent turns into the fact of having one. The hope of a deal, any size will do, turns into a three book extravaganza. You hope you’ll get to five Amazon reviews, get to 50 Goodreads ratings, and six months later you’re getting 50 Goodreads ratings a week and hoping it will double. You reach one summit and immediately you’re looking for the next rather than enjoying the view.

The idea of a movie deal never figured in my imagination. Getting a book published wasn’t a dream of mine and what might lie beyond didn’t trouble me. But we humans are about aspiration, about the journey, so as foreign deals, audio books, and the like started to be ticked off the list and I began to get invites to cast imaginary ‘films-of-the-book’ I will admit to speculating.

Even so, when the first contact was mentioned by my publisher, and then a second came to my e-door with talk of movie rights and studio deals, I was pretty amazed.

It wasn’t until I mentioned the movie rights query to one of my sons that I realised I wasn’t the only one pushing the goalposts about – and I wasn’t close to winning the game! Instead of being floored by the fact that his boring old dad had even come within shouting distance of Hollywood, he was instead decidedly unimpressed by the fact that the contact in question had only written a couple of moderately successful major Hollywood films. Couldn’t I hold out for Peter Jackson?

Well I’ve decided to be impressed enough for the both of us. I would have been amazed and very pleased if ‘all’ I had managed to do was have one book published, have a paperback run of 5,000 and have  handful of people say they really enjoy it. That would have exceeded all my expectations when I started (and finished) writing Prince of Thorns. I wouldn’t have counted myself hard done by or cruelly overlooked if it had never been taken up. I didn’t feel entitled to success.

A couple of years later and I’m determined not to lose contact with that mindset. It’s astonishing to be in the position where Hollywood folks are wanting to write screenplays. Quite likely it will never reach the stage where the book is actually optioned. And the vast majority of optioned books don’t proceed to film production. And many films of books are a great disappointment to the author and fans alike. It’s hard to think of a swords and sorcery film that’s actually good and isn’t Lord of the Rings. . .

i) feet on the ground
ii) realise how ridiculously lucky I’ve been thus far
iii) rack up even the expression of interest from a successful movie-maker as a serious career highpoint and something that by itself I can put on the shelf and enjoy in years to come.

Yes it’s easy to become blasé, and no, I don’t think I have. The movies move me.

Image dump


  1. Movies get eyeballs a book never will or would, its true.

    And a combination of luck and skill is what you need to succeed. Even Jorg can agree with that.

  2. Good luck! I'd like to see how Prince of Thorns could translate into a film. I'd be concerned that they wouldn't get his internal quips in, but that would be the only issue. It's harder to connect with movie characters than book characters, I think.

  3. Hey, you want a Game of Thrones type TV serial...

  4. @Neal - it's like you're reading my mind, dude...

  5. It wasn't difficult. For me it would be a serial of the Cormac books done a bit like B5 - one season for each book.

  6. I think that the beauty of Prince of Thorns is the prose and being trapped inside the head of its narrator. I think any film adaptation would be a disaster, but it would be a disaster that would make you more money and make you more famous, so there's that.

    As I told you before, if it were me I would go for it, because I am more about putting food on my table than holding true to some inner vision. I'm a complete sellout, and I'm okay with it. Doctors and carpenters and teachers aren't called "sellouts" if they please their customers/patients/students and get a raise.