Just back from a trip out west, and three meetings in Los Angeles with people who've read several of my scripts. One of them looks like a potentially interesting (and I hope fruitful) project, while the idea of adapting my third novel, The Blue Hour, was brought up at two companies. So, because I do love screenwriting, as well as for legal reasons, I'm setting aside my work on The Memory Thief novel, and working solely on screenplays. The legal issue involves certain concepts I've invented for the book that may be used for a movie script, and which for now, at least, I'd like to keep closely within the author-producer loop. And, frankly, legally I can say nothing more about it.
But adapting The Blue Hour has so far been interesting. When it first came out in, I think, 1989, there was a lot of film interest, and I eventually settled on a writer/producer who would adapt it, attach talent and other elements, and bring in financing. My final approval of the script was written into the contract, as well.
We came very close to seeing this become a movie, but in the end, for reasons I won't go into here, it wasn't made, though some very big names circled the project, and some were actually attached to it. The novel takes place in a hot Paris summer in the late '80s, and the main characters are Hungarian. I'm now transposing (and in a sense translating) it all to Los Angeles in the present day, and making the detective the main character. It's built around the Orpheus myth, where Orpheus has to descend into the Underworld to bring his wife back into life.
In a sense, it's the first resurrection myth, and in Orpheus and Eurydice's case it didn't actually work, due to Orppheus's impatience and lack of faith in the gods of the Underworld. Jean Cocteau made a movie of it, set in the last year or so of the German Occupation of Paris, and like all myths it has an ageless resonance. Of all my early books, it's the one I've reread more than once.
The story is very simple: the wife of the young assistant to a filmmaker has vanished, and an amoral detective named Cuvillier is in charge of the case. He's the worst kind of human being, but he's the best kind of detective, who lets nothing go until he's solved a case. To me, now, he seems the more interesting character; hence, he'll be the protagonist. Just American, this time.
Adapting my own work is nothing new. When my first novel, The Man from Marseille, was first published, I was hired to adapt it for an independent film company in London which had just wrapped its first feature starring a young Liam Neeson. All of the principals in the company were TV veterans (and in one case, is still very active there), and they'd seen earlier scripts of mine sent by my agent at the time. It took almost a year of development, and hopes that Jeremy Irons would take the starring role, but in the end the project became too expensive to make, and the company dissolved.
In a way, The Blue Hour is an easier adaptation. It's very straightforward, and in the book the plot is the armature for the texture of the prose, the atmosphere, the omens, the sense of dread, the city caught in a nightmare. It was great fun to write, and I can say it's turned out to be great fun to adapt. It's always been a "movie" book and I'm hoping this time we'll actually get there.
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