Still, it was pretty cool.
As someone whose first published book still was nearly a year and a half till its release date, it seemed premature to make much of his comment,
and I didn’t think about it again until the following March. I’d
been in Dublin researching On Target, the second book in the Gray Man
series, and when I turned my phone on back in the states I had a message
from my agent saying an LA-based talent agency wanted to rep the manuscript
in Hollywood. Of course I agreed to let them, they could have peddled
it in Bollywood for all I cared (if you’ve read the Gray Man, you
know the dance numbers would be bad ass!).
We received our first offer to purchase an option on the book in June of ’09, still four months until publication. The offer came from a small
independent and the offer was low. My agents, both New York and L.A.,
suggested I turn it down. Another bid came during the summer, I was
in New York at the time, and we gave serious thought to accepting it,
but ultimately decided we could do better.
Finally, in early September, just a few weeks before release of the Gray Man, we received an offer from Shine/New Regency, and this time my
agents suggested we accept.
Like everything that’s happened to me in the two years since I’ve gone from non-published to published, I really had no idea how these things
worked, but now I am informed enough to explain (even if I didn’t
really read that huge contract that I signed in God-knows how
many places). Here goes: The film production company purchased
an option on the book, which means, they pay me for the option to buy
the rights to make The Gray Man into a film at any time within a certain
period (In my case, 3 years). They begin developing the script, and
I can’t sell the rights to the story to someone else while they own
the option. Thumbing through the contract I noticed that they specify
that I cannot sell the rights to the book to anyone else in the “Universe”.
Seriously. Makes me wonder who tried to do an end-around on their
deal with interplanetary travel, necessitating the wider net thrown
by the production company’s contract lawyers.
It’s interesting to me how much excitement the film option generates for the book. It may be that our popular culture puts more emphasis on movies
than on books, or it just may be that selling film rights is rare enough
that there is a presumption of quality to the writing and the writer,
though we’ve all seen enough crappy movies to question the validity
of that notion. But every time I am in front of a crowd talking about
the book and mention the sale of the option, lights go on in the eyes
of the audience as the level of interest goes from polite to a near
Spending my day hunched over a laptop in a coffee shop, I don’t generate a tremendous amount of tizzy-ness, so I do enjoy the attention.
Will they make a movie? Who knows? Just last week they announced they’d hired a young up-and-comer to write the adaptation. This news, like
everything else film-related, generated 100 times more buzz on the internet
than my releasing of the novel in the first place. The studio has a
proven team of producers working on the project, too. But there are
a lot of steps between here and there, so I have no idea whether it
will all fall together.
Do I want them to make a movie? The money would be great, I won’t lie. But I find myself somewhat worried about the outcome. The story is a
good one, but it could be told in two distinct ways; as an edge-of-your
seat reality thriller, edgy, stark and bold, like the book was written.
Or as an over-the-top, shoot-em-up romp, devoid of the heart and soul
I tried to convey in the book.
It’s out of my hands, I’ve sent my baby off to college, and I hope he becomes summa cum laude instead of some waste-case drop out.
But there is nothing I can do about it.Honestly