Monday, January 9, 2012

The rewards of writing.

What a wonderful surprise and Christmas present ,Jim.  I was totally taken aback, ELATED,OVERWHELMED, DELIGHTED, etc. etc. to receive  your book and dedication to me. This is the greatest reward  I  have received in my lifetime.  I had many rewards and a lot of fun while teaching, but this topped everything. Everyone is so excited for me.

First of all, no, I didn't write that, and since there might be non-believers, hard to believe, let's make it one specific non-believer, this was written by my Grade 6 teacher, who always inspired and encouraged me.

The novelization of Emperor of Mars was dedicated to her.

The book has been out now a little over two weeks and unfortunately was too late for the Christmas sales. I could have kept it back till next Christmas but I decided to put it out now. It's on Amazon, Kindle and Nook, and Amazon in Canada.

So why is it dedicated to her?

Because she is a big part of the book. I've told you it's a story based on my life as a 12-year old (not all that interesting) and a true-story character who called himself the Emperor of Mars (much more interesting).

Put them together and you have a book. Or rather a book based on a true story. Or a book based on a true story based on a screenplay.

I've said this before, but EOM (the business loves to use letters rather than titles) was written as a screenplay in 1989 and almost made into a movie 5 times. It was the screenplay that got me into every studio in town. Every one. They loved it. Steve Teisch, producer of Forrest Gump loved it. 

But nobody wanted to make it. They considered me for other writing assignments, and I got a handful or so but nobody wanted to make it. 

One reason was that "it had no star role". Meaning no big role that a star would want, after all it was about a boy. You can say that Stand By Me had no stars, but they had Stephen King's story and Rob Reiner, entrenched into the Hollywood world.

The 5 "almosts" were indie producers,  the 1st attempt was an option that eventually expired, the second had an oscar-winning director (honest) and financing fell through, the 3rd was an option again, the fourth was the closest,  I was director and had done locations when the dreaded call came.

Finally it was with 2 producers from Calgary who did an award-winning western with Robert Duvall. They lost interest eventually because, as with most Canadian producers, they really don't want to look for money, they want someone to give them the money so they can spend it.

I had friend who suggested I novelize the screenplay and put it on Amazon which published books for anyone, sort of like "vanity publishing" but at no cost. Then a former UCLA student told me of his success with a book. In 3 years he made over $15,000. He also showed me how to do it.

So I got a graphic artist to design the cover and a tech to help format and upload the book. It took almost 2 months to write as I didn't plunge right into it. By last December it was ready.

The teacher was one of those who suddenly appear into your life, she was around 18, and in the late 1950's, typical of many teachers who took a 1 year teaching course. Everything about her was spectacular to a kid of 12, I couldn't wait to get to school and just be around her.

In later years I would come back to Manitoba and often see her again. I remember sitting in her home and drinking scotch. Then she moved and I lost track of her. We met again at a 100 year anniversary of the little town I lived in and reconnected with email.

Some time ago, she emailed that she faced a serious health problem, and in her words "wouldn't go without a fight". I emailed with another student, a woman who became a politician in Canada, herself inspired by our teacher. We kept in touch over a year, hoping for the best until the politician emailed to say our teacher was back home and in better health.

Three weeks ago I mailed her the first copy of the book and wasn't sure what she would think. Her response is what you read at the heading, except for her very nice words about my writing abilities and that she hopes we meet again soon.

If anyone wonders why anyone would want to write for a living, I think this is at least half of it. 

The other half is because it's the only thing I know how to do well besides shooting film and video and some darn good photography.


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