Straight to You will be released a month from today. By now I’m sure you know it’s a complete re-write of my debut novel, so the story has been around a fair while. I wanted to tell you about the time the book almost became a movie…
I was in two minds as to whether or not I should post this, but why not. I’ve removed all the names and other identifying details to protect the innocent (more to protect me, actually), but you’ll still be able to get the gist of this cautionary tale. This is an example of how the corporate entertainment machine can ‘acquire’ ideas. Though it’s probably all just coincidence (he adds quickly for legal reasons).
Given how much information I’ve deliberately missed out, I wasn’t sure how best to tell this story. I decided to use the power of Bitstrips.
It all starts back in 2007. When the film rights to Hater were sold, I suddenly had a lot of people very interested in my books.
I received an email from the production company behind some very famous films. They were asking about Hater initially, but then they started looking at my lesser-known books. As you’d expect, I was really, really excited.
Things got even more exciting… they decided they wanted to option Straight to You.
But it didn’t work out. After some preliminary discussions I was told by my contact that the project didn’t get traction higher up in the company. Oh well, I thought, chalk that one down to experience. You win some, you lose some.
Fast-forward five years, and I start getting emails from a number of folks who’ve read Straight to You, asking if I’ve seen the new apocalyptic comedy romance movie that’s just been released. They say there are some eerie similarities. I watch the film, and I can see what they’re saying… I tell myself it’s just a coincidence (just a series of coincidences, actually), then I notice the film’s made by the folks who wanted to option my book but decided not to.
I talk about this to my agent. He says forget it. He says it’s almost impossible to prove. He says it’d cost me a fortune to pursue a claim, and I probably wouldn’t get anything anyway apart from a massive legal bill. The bottom line: they’re fucking huge, I’m fucking not.
I let it go. Who cares? What can I do about it anyway? I decide I should just be happy my book was good enough to partially inspire (perhaps) a fairly good Hollywood movie. It’s a lesson learned, I tell myself.
Fast-forward again to last summer. I’m in Avilés, Spain, for the Celsius 232 festival, and I’m sitting on a panel with some very respected, much better known authors than me.
We’re talking about how our books have been adapted for film and TV, when one of my fellow authors – mentioning no names, but in my eyes he’s a literary giant – tells a story very similar to mine: a production company wanted to option his book, changed their minds at the last minute, then went on to release a similarly-themed movie which cleaned up at the box office. And it turns out… it’s the exact same production company.
You have to laugh, don’t you?
All’s fair in love and war, but it seems that many people in the film industry will happily rip your head off your shoulders and shit down your neck stump.
Right, it’s nice to have been able to share and to have got that out of my system. Back to the present, and I’ll have more Straight to You news next week. I’ll talk more about the differences between the 1994 and 2014 versions of the book, and I’ll soon be able to reveal the spectacular cover art.