Thursday, September 3, 2015

Soon to be a Major Motion Picture?

Or not.

But I can see it.

Do I harp on this? Oh God. So I apologize to my three or so really loyal, die-hard readers who will soon peel off because they're sick of reading this.

EVERY author wants a movie version, and it's not just so they can move a few copies. If it's "literary fiction" - the kind nobody reads - the need is even more imperative. Otherwise our publishers will just sigh over us and get very depressed. But I swear to you, I swear to you, in this case it's different.

The Glass Character, my third published novel, revolves around the life and times of one Harold Lloyd, the silent movie guy who hangs off the clock in his most famous film, Safety Last! Though it isn't a Lloyd biography and isn't even "about" him, strictly speaking, without him the novel would have no heart, no soul or even a core. What it's really about is fandom in its more extreme form, the story of a young woman who will do anything, anything at all to get close to her idol, even to the point of tossing her life into the fire.

And she does, but even that isn't enough. As she hurtles through one incarnation after another, as bit-player, secretary, waitress in a speakeasy, high-class hostess, screenwriter, and (finally!) novelist, Harold dances in and out of her life, maddening, intoxicating, irresistable.

Almost daily, I have to tell myself: this story has legs. It not only has legs, it has wings. Though I'm the only one who thinks this, at this point, I try to keep the door of possibility open. Why? Because I am an utter lunatic.

I fell in love with Harold watching The Freshman on Turner Classics. I tuned in halfway through, during the disastrous dance sequence where, piece by piece, his cheaply-sewn suit falls apart: the dream we all have of being naked in public, but done in an awful, slow-motion striptease.

I began to realize I was watching a genius who made you laugh till you cried, but in truth, what he was doing was about as funny as a dental cleaning: one slip and the hygienist is going to hit a nerve and you will be in agony. But because he is just so exquisitely good at what he does, that jab never quite happens. It threatens, and we watch his suit, and Harold, fall apart (though never in a way that cries for sympathy). But we're just this side of it, and not just laughing but going "ohhhhhhhhh" in that way you do when you're watching something that plays very skillfully around the edges of social humiliation.

Which, of course, we all love to watch.

So that was it. I needed MORE, more, more MORE Harold Lloyd.

I had to find out more about Harold Lloyd. It was piecemeal at first: whatever far-out-of-print books I could get from Amazon (hardly any), YouTube snippets, internet and Wikipedia entries (slipshod and contradictory). When I found an old VHS tape of Kevin Brownlow's superb two-hour documentary The Third Genius (now, FINALLY, available on DVD with the Bluray of Safety Last!), I was in Harold heaven. The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, a boxed set with most of his stuff after about 1919, rounded out my knowledge, but it only made me hungrier.





One day I was sitting in my office downstairs (we now call it the Cat Room because our new cat eats in there), and it hit me like a brick to the head. Harold Lloyd. I HAD to write about him, had to had had had to, and I had no idea what to write. But with the typical idealism of the mentally ill, I pulled myself up to the computer and began to write.

Three hours later, I looked up, looked down, and realized I had started my novel.

I can't and won't spill the rest of it here, except to say - God, my gut, my soul - it took THREE YEARS to get a book contract, and it was flukey. I had sent out so many dead-end queries that I was ready to give up (not: I never give up), but there were a few I hadn't heard back from. I sent out three emails, and only one came back: "Oh! Yes! We'd like to see it, please."

Just like that, except trying to sell a book now is just about as pleasant as a root canal. I just don't know how to do this any more. But with a certain stupid doggedness, I still believe Harold deserves another shot at the big screen.

I've gone through several casting sessions, and I won't tell you the exact details of this except to say we have a fold-out bed in the cat room. Jake Gyllenhaal was a front-runner for a while because he has the same head-shape, hairline, jaw, and bow-shaped lips, though the nose is wrong and the eyes are more dreamy than piercing (Harold had an unsettling gaze). But somehow it wasn't a good-enough match, and as he beefed up and became more of a jock, I became restless and discontented.

I took on Zachary Quinto next, mainly because he was so damn dishy in Star Trek. He had a sort of Mediterranean quality which didn't quite work however, and a sort of gravitas that didn't match the mercurial Harold.

Then I hit on - very recently - Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and bing bing. Bing! He could do this, even if the physical resemblance isn't too strong. He has the compact body type, the lovely big head, the charismatic eyes, and the fizzy frisson I am looking for. And the energy. Oh, the energy.

Why do I do this, when it does me absolutely no good? Any movie people who ever see this might say, "God, she's so naive she thinks she can cast a movie that will never exist." Probably true. But it's not that, not that at all.

This movie is here already, it's made. It exists. It only has to be put up there. Don't tell me I'm crazy, please. I am convinced that, no matter how hard Harold worked on his movies, piecing them together gag by polished gag, they were born in his heart and head first, and it was a whole thing and it only had to be actualized. That's what a good workman does, and hell, he was one of the best.

The Glass Character exists as a movie already. It is there, it's a whole thing, and it only has to be actualized. Just put it up there, please. Harold needs to live again.

  Visit Margaret's Amazon Author Page!

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