Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Ready for my close-up? by Cathy Ace

Reading - Why do you think so few beloved books become equally beloved films? Do you have a personal list of exceptions?

Phot courtesy of Free@LastTV
I’ve just been through an exceptionally interesting process – reading the screenplay for a book of mine. 

The prospect was exciting, because it was the first step in bringing my Cait Morgan Mysteries to the screen:  Free@LastTV (Agatha Raisin) has been working on this process right through the pandemic pause, and now beyond. It was slow going for a while – understandably – so this step was a big, and much anticipated one. 

Even before the screenplay was written, we had long conversations about who should be approached to do the work; I knew it wouldn’t be me because I don’t possess the skill-set required of a screenplay writer, and I certainly felt the right call was to have a true professional, with a slate of successes already under their belt, to do it. We finally agreed on who that should be (no, I can’t tell you, sorry!) and then…it eventually happened.

The Corpse with the Silver Tongue is the first Cait Morgan Mystery, so made it most sense that this should be the book to be adapted for the pilot for the series. The plan was for the treatment to be a 90 minute made-for-TV movie but, almost immediately, the writer came back and suggested making it a 2 hour version instead to be able to “fit in” the plot; when that was agreed they got going with their job – ripping my work to pieces then fitting it all back together again…distilling it in some areas, adding aspects in others.

Coming to a TV screen near you "soon"

The day the script arrived with the production company, they emailed it to me, so we read it simultaneously. I was terrified…then relieved…then delighted. The characters are my characters…still there in the notes for direction and in the dialogue; the story survived intact – and thrived due to the tautness required of a script; the pace is – surprisingly, to me – something you can actually deduce as you read the script, and it’s just perfect.

First of all: I know I couldn’t have done as good a job with it, and I truly believe the right thing to do in any part of life or business (and all of this is about business) is use the best person for the job.

The second thing: while the screenplay is still my book…it’s quite different. And that’s the thing: you have to leave out some things that were in the book to make it the best possible version of a book for the screen, but you also have to add elements too…to make it the best possible version of the same story, featuring the same characters, living the same life, in the same places.  

Thus, in general, I look at it this way: a book is a book, a film is a film. They are two entirely different artforms, and the reader/viewer interacts with each in entirely different ways. I come to each with my hopes and expectations focused on the artform in question, so I have never watched a movie based on a book that I know expecting it to be the same as, or worse than, or better than the book, and the same could be said when I’ve read a book having already seen the film – I approach each version knowing it will be different. The only time this personal truism isn’t…true…might be when a short story has been made into a film; then there’s a real chance for a true filmic representation of the original work, as opposed to a filmic interpretation of it.

Photo from Canva

Yes, I know that in writing they always say, “Show, don’t tell”, but even so, what the writer “shows” is still interpreted by the reader in their mind’s eye…which is significantly different that the visual input to a viewer being completely controlled by the team who creates the visual/aural elements of the movie.

I am living in hope that, when this book of mine finally makes it to the screen, those who watch it who have read the book will feel it is the best possible filmic interpretation of the book they read (and, hopefully, enjoyed), but some will see the film who haven’t read the book, so it has to work well for them, too – which I also believe is what will be achieved when the script I have read is brought to life.

Now? Well, now I have to wait for all the other things to happen…but I am keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed that it all goes as well as it has to date 😊

Meanwhile - coming to an e-reader, library, or bookstore near you...THE CASE OF THE CURSED COTTAGE (WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries Book 7) will be published on February 20th...NOT LONG NOW! 

Pre-order links here:

Sign up at my website if you want to receive my newsletter containing sneak-peek chapters ahead of the launch here:


Dietrich Kalteis said...

Congratulations, Cathy. How exciting!

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks, Dietrich - it really is :-)

Susan C Shea said...

What an exciting process, Cathy. You seem able to be flexible, which I'm sure the producers are grateful for.

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Cathy Ace said...

Fascinating process, Susan! :-)