I did an interview this morning and got asked a difficult question. One tries to prepare for these things, and one does prepare, but this wasn’t an ordinary question. Oh, I’ve been asked about this sort of thing, had this type of thing suggested to me and even some serious interest on the matter about my books, but I wasn’t approached then in the manner I was this morning. I thought I’d share so that you could add this one to your preparation list.
Typically when interviewed, I’m asked about my books, where my ideas originate–the usual. Depending on the interviewer, I might be asked questions about my days as a military wife, or as a writer with a family, or even as a pet owner. I’ve been asked about what kind of music I like to listen to when I write, what kind of junk food I prefer, what kind of car I think is hot–all kinds of things, depending on the interviewer’s audience.
I’ve been asked why I write the books I write, how I choose which books to write; why I don’t write more non-fiction; why I don’t write about distinguished “real” women versus imaginary ones. I’ve even been asked which is my favorite book of all I’ve written.
But this today was a first for me. “Which of your books do you want to be made into a movie, and why?”
My initial response (which thank heaven I didn’t share) was: All of them. Because they’re movies I’d like to go see.
That wouldn’t have gone over well, now would it?
Anyway, I paused a second to think on it. As I said above, I’ve had interest in some of my books going to film, but in those situations, the interested party had read the book and came to me. I didn’t have to choose. And the question struck me the same way that asking me which of mine is my favorite book only even harder because someone else would adapt what I’d done. It’d be the same only different. I was momentarily lost. Imagine someone saying, “You have three kids. Which do you love most?”
Who can answer that?
Admittedly, I’m a bit of an oddball commercial writer. Typically, commercial writers write what’s commercial. I’ve written purpose books and hoped they’d be commercial. It’s a different set of criteria. Yes, I know that the books aren’t my babies and once you choose to sell what you write, regardless of all the couching, you’ve got a product on a shelf in a store. No illusions on that, or problems with it, either.
But when you’ve written nearly thirty books, and every single one of them were written because you felt driven to write them, selecting a favorite one is just impossible.
My response: “Based on what criteria?”
Now the interviewer was at a loss. 🙂
I explained. My choice would be based on the nature of the film someone wanted to make.
How do you succinctly explain your personal philosophy to someone unfamiliar with your body of work without boring them to tears?
I knew what I needed. A high-concept pitch. And that led me to wondering: Is there such an animal as a “high concept” pitch for an author?
That was the question in my mind, and it’s what’s on my mind this morning.
If you want a rip-your-heart-out kind of movie, then HER PERFECT LIFE, is my choice. A returning POW finding everything had changed (husband remarried, kids calling his new wife “Mom” and being a stranger to their mother, and a WHAT NOW?” kind of movie that ripped my heart out writing it. It’s got a (to me) fabulous, happy ending. My purpose in writing it? Awareness of what serving our country can cost people–on a very real and personal level.
If you want a “I can conquer abuse” kind of movie, then it’d be ALL DUE RESPECT.
If terrorism is your focus, then any of the WAR GAMES books, or LADY JUSTICE.
If terrorism with a political angle is what you’re after, then LADY LIBERTY.
If you ever wondered what happens when one of those folks with top secret clearance mentally loses it; what happens to them, then ACTS OF HONOR is just the thing.
Maybe you’re into a Paris Hilton type with substance. Then BULLETPROOF PRINCESS.
Or you’re into time-travel, or paranormal. That’d be FESTIVAL. Toss in Life After Death, and that’d be MAYBE THIS TIME.
Ghosts or a safe haven–healing story? That’d be the Seascape novels.
Biological warfare? SHADES OF GRAY. Chemical or Nuclear warfare? DUPLICTY or ACTS OF HONOR. Terrorists striking your water supply? SHADES OF GRAY. Striking your shopping mall? DOUBLE DARE. Cloning people with high level security clearances? BODY DOUBLE.
See what I mean? It’s impossible!
So if a high-concept author pitch didn’t exist, it’s being born today. I’m creating it. Because never again do I want to be asked a question such as this and not have a ready response. I can’t choose one book. Not when every book I write is written because I consider the soul of the book relevant.
So maybe that’s my high-concept author pitch. Relevance. That’s my key point.
Course, I’ll have to elaborate a bit. Relevance, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder…