Monday, December 17, 2012

Casting call

I'm definitely not one of those writers who think much about how their work might unfold on screen - not unless I'm actually writing a screenplay (in which case, it's pretty much all I think about). Novels and movies both tell stories, and both usually contain dialogue, but that's where the overlap starts to run out. It is not the ultimate accolade of a novel that it be adapted for the screen, let alone that it be adapted successfully. For a novelist the undertaking can be fascinating and lucrative, but its success or failure usually has very little to do with the original material - and therefore very little to do with its creator.

Nonetheless, when the My Book, the Movie came calling, I couldn't resist the temptation to play producer for twenty minutes. The popular blog, which has been running for more than five years, asks novelists to 'dreamcast' the leading roles for a fantasy adaptation of their latest book, in this case The Valley of Unknowing.

As most real producers do, I started with the director, fixing on the rather in-demand Alexander Payne, whose recent credits include SidewaysAbout Schmidt and The Descendants. Well, I reckon if you are going to fantasize a perfect world, you might as make it as perfect as possible.

Who is my ideal Bruno Krug? The truth is, I don't have one. The character already exists in my head, and I doubt that any perfect embodiment could ever exist outside it. On the other hand, there are some very talented actors out there whom I'd love to see having a go. Actors, especially great actors, always bring something all their own to a character. It's that sense of an extra dimension that makes the exercise thrilling for the original author, provided he has an open mind.

The whole fantastic exercise is here

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Page 69 Test

I was asked recently to take the increasingly infamous 'Page 69 Test' by Marshal Zeringue, the leading American book blogger. The test is simple: what happens on Page 69 of your latest novel? Is it representative of the rest of the rest of the book? Is there something on that page that would make the reader read on? So I agreed to have a go.
Is there some special significance to page 69s in contemporary literature, you might ask? Probably not, but looking at some previous Page 69s on that Blog, it's hard to avoid the impression that important development are usually in the offing. This is certainly the case in The Valley of Unknowing. In fact, in one sense Marshal has pretty much hit the jackpot.
The full piece can be found here...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Uneasy reading

Last week I was asked by the Writers Read and Campaign for the American Reader blogs to write something about the books I'm reading at the moment. These were Frederick Manning's The Middle Parts of Fortune and Neil Hanson's The Unknown Soldier - both extraordinary books, which I'd recommend to almost anyone (although definitely not children!). 

Meanwhile, The Valley of Unknowing has just come out in North America. USA Today listed it as one of their five weekly 'New & Notable' books. Is this my novel's proverbial fifteen minutes of fame? We shall see.