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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Hollywood or bust (it's bust)

To avoid disappointment in the reader, it's best to be clear from the start that this story ends with bust.

One of the stories in Nowhere To Go is a short story called The Chain which was published in Ellery Queen's a few years ago. The readers of EQMM must have liked it, because they voted it into their top ten stories of the year.

A year or so later, I was contacted by a screenwriter who was interested in whether the film rights to the story were available. It was all very exciting for a while, but the more experienced writers I know counselled that these things often come to nothing, and they were not wrong. Still, like buying a lottery ticket, you can at least enjoy the fantasy even if you know that you will end up hurling the ticket into a bin on Monday morning as you stand in the rain waiting for a bus.

Then a couple of years ago, out of the blue I was contacted by a producer and director of an indie film who were thinking about their next project and wondered if the film rights to The Chain were available. I've been here before, I thought. So I won't get excited at all, I thought. I failed. But I did at least keep it in check, so when it didn't get anywhere I was philosophical, rather than like a kid who's just been told that Santa's crashed his sleigh whilst drunk and won't be coming this year, and maybe not at all. And by the way, in the crash he wiped out the Easter Bunny.

It's interesting though, that the same story has attracted that kind of interest twice. Interesting particularly because reading it through I can't see that it's particularly more filmic than any of my other stories, and I can't identify what made this. I'm aware though that this is maybe why I write stories, and don't make films.

So, that's the story of how I came this close to Hollywood glory. You'll have to imagine that when I'm saying 'this close' I'm also holding my hands a really, really long way apart, like I'm trying to hug an elephant. But still, it's all fun. And an object lesson to all writers: one of the beauties of having stories out there is that you never know when something unexpected might happen.

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