Friday, 4 August 2017

Books You'd Like to See on Film or TV by Rosalie Warren


What book (or books) would you like to see on film/TV?

Do you have a favourite book you’ve thought, perhaps for years, that you’d love to see made into a film or TV drama/ series? Maybe something you loved as a child – or that new psychological thriller you read last week? Apart from the fact that you like it, can you say why your choice would make great cinema or TV? (Or a radio play or a theatre play, come to that. Or let’s cast the net wider – a musical? A game?)

Don’t worry about the practicalities. It seems possible to film just about anything these days, with cgi and the like. Allow yourself to dream (go back to your earliest memories if you like. Andy Pandy – the Movie? Maybe there is one – I haven’t checked!).

Some books, it’s pretty clear, were only ever meant to be books. There have been some disastrous dramatisations that probably should never even have been attempted. I’ll leave you to make your own list. Some books are improved by being put on screen. A number of people I know much prefer the film version of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to the book version. Personally, I love the three films, but only because I had already read (and deeply enjoyed) the books. Without all the so-called boring bits that had lodged in my mind, the films would have lacked a proper context, at least for me. I’ve become lazy, though. Nowadays when I need a Frodo boost I tend to watch the films rather than read the book again. It’s a shame, because I’m missing all that wonderful historical and linguistic stuff – and those maps! (A film of The Silmarillion, now there’s an idea – or maybe not. Just looked it up and discovered it's under consideration...) 

 Anyway, having just had a lovely new website designed for me courtesy of writer, website designer and publicist Melissa Lawrence, I have decided to start a regular blog on the subject of turning books into TV and film. Snappy suggestions for a blog title would be very welcome indeed. Also, if you are aware of anyone else with a similar blog, please let me know – I don’t want to copy. In particular, if you have such a blog yourself… (I did check and failed to find anything, but these things can be missed.)

In my posts, unless otherwise advised, I will bang on about books I’ve read that I think would make great films or TV. But I would also love to feature books that my readers suggest. I’ll be inviting contributions – a title and author if possible and a couple of reasons why you think the book would work as a film or TV production. If I haven’t read it, I’ll accept the challenge of tracking it down and making sure I do. I’ll then feature it, with your permission, on my blog – acknowledging your name if you wish. 

I’m going to say that any title at all may be submitted for consideration. I’m prepared to read most kinds of fiction, with the exception of extreme horror/violence or anything exploitative or discriminatory – you get the idea. I won’t promise to feature all suggested books but I’ll do my best. I won’t mind if people suggest books written by themselves or their friends, but publicity is not the primary purpose of the exercise.

And no spoilers, of course. I’ll make sure I avoid them too.

If my readers know about filming technicalities, e.g. camera work and the like, I’d love to hear some ideas about how they think the film should be shot. 

And I’ll be asking for books that haven’t, as far as you know, been screened before. Though having said that, if it was a long time ago then perhaps a new dramatisation is due, so don’t let that stop you.

To get the ball rolling – my choice for screening would be a novel by Laurie Graham called The Ten O’Clock Horses, which hardly anyone I know has heard of. It was published in 1996 by Bantam Press. It’s set in 1962 and tells the tale of Ronnie Glover, a housepainter, husband and father of two daughters. Ronnie is bored and the changing world of the early sixties is enticing him to try out something new. He wants to learn to draw and to try an avocado (his greengrocer has never heard of them). His wife, on the other hand, is happy as she is, and his daughters are in their early teens and just plain irritating. Then Ronnie meets dancing teacher Jack (Jacqueline) and… OK, no spoilers. It’s hilarious and also sad. The dialogue is brilliant – think Alan Bennett or Victoria Wood – dare I suggest in places even better? There’s deep pain and sadness in Ronnie’s past. 

My well-thumbed copy
 OK, so far maybe radio would work as well as TV, but just think of the nostalgia – the sixties clothes, décor, food, music, everything. It has to be TV (a series, I think). Victoria Wood meets Back in Time for Dinner. I think it might need Ronnie to narrate it – he has an amazing voice. 

Anyway… that’s the kind of suggestion I’d like, but just a title, author and a line or two would be fine.

If you would like to comment below, telling me why you like or don’t like this idea for a blog, I’d be very grateful. And please send any suggestions you have of books. I’ll update you next month, once my blog has got going, and tell you where to find it.

I’d also welcome comments about my new website, which you can see at http://www.rosalie-warren.co.uk/.

Thank you!

Happy reading (and reminiscing).
Ros


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8 comments:

Umberto Tosi said...

Great idea for a blog, Rosalie! If there any like it - which I doubt - yours would stand out nevertheless, given your ability and experience as a multifaceted writer. You should have no shortage of material, what with so many apt novels that have never been adapted for small or big screens. The current rage of high-concept tv series eats content faster than The Tasmanian Devil and provides opportunities for adapting novels with greater fidelity and power than within the constraints of theater movies. Nevertheless, not every good novel lends itself to screen adaptation, as you well know and that's where your blog comes in, looking forward instead of critiquing past efforts. I look forward to reading it. Congratulations, also on your new Website! Best of luck.

Umberto Tosi said...

P.S. - I always thought Ann Tyler's "Ladder of Years" would make a delightful dramedy tv series.

Rosalie Warren said...

Thanks, Umberto. I'm glad you think it could work. And thanks for the suggestion of 'Ladder of Years'. This is a novel with particular resonance for me and I would love to consider it in this way. I think one of Ann Tyler's novels was made into a film (the title escapes me for the moment) but I'm not aware of any others being televised or filmed.

Melissa Lawrence said...

Great idea for a blog, Rosalie. It should give us lots of food for thought and I look forward to seeing what suggestions other people come up with. I must admit I'm someone who usually avoids "the film of the book" as however brilliant CGI may be, it never seems to get anywhere near the pictures I have in my head. Also, if I don't feel the actor or actress fits in with my idea of what the character looks or sounds like, I won't watch the film. For instance, I loved the book 'About A Boy' by Nick Hornby but have never watched the film because Hugh Grant just doesn't work for me as the character of Will. If I've not read the book though, I'm happy to try the film, although in the case of Harry Potter, I do feel slightly guilty only ever having watched the films and never having read the books. It feels like a bit of a cop-out somehow. The book I'd love to see made into a film or particularly a TV drama is 'More Than Just Coincidence' by Julie Wassmer. It's the true and incredible story of her search for the daughter she was forced to give up for adoption at the age of 16 in the 1970s, so lots of scope for background music, fashion and culture references for starters. Julie went on to be a scriptwriter on the UK TV soap Eastenders but as she says in the preface to the book, "I have countless plotlines to my credit but still none so extraordinary as the drama I experienced in my own life...an apparent coincidence so remarkable that many people have been compelled to search for more complex explanations as to how it could have happened." Good luck with the blog and the new website which was a pleasure to design for you.

Rosalie Warren said...

Hi Melissa. Thanks for the feedback and good wishes - yes, I know what you mean about not wanting to spoil the pictures in your head. This has sometimes happened for me too, but not always. Sometimes, amazingly, they 'fit' and at other times I think I end up with two similar but distinct stories in my brain. Thanks for the suggested book - I had not heard of 'More Than Just Coincidence' and will certainly read and review it now.

Cecilia Peartree said...

I would like to see at least one of the James Oswald mystery books being made into a film or tv show. It would be interesting (or maybe annoying) to see how they coped with the slightly supernatural aspects. Also the LJ Ross series set in Northumberland. The settings would look great anyway.
(I actually like the film of 'About a Boy' better than the book - not because I am particularly fond of Hugh Grant but I think the film script is better structured than the novel.)

misha said...

I'd certainly be interested in your blog. Some books lend themselves naturally to film, others would not work as well. In fact, some novels are perfect TV series material.
What might be fun too would be to ask your followers occasionally to post which of their books would work as a film, or on TV, or radio.

Rosalie Warren said...

Thank you, Cecilia. I will investigate the James Oswald books and the LJ Ross ones. Yes, Northumberland settings are great.

And thanks, Misha - that's a good idea to ask my followers occasionally to suggest their own books. I will certainly do that!