Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Acts of Faith (or how Sarwat went to Hollywood)

As some of you may know my background isn't in writing, but engineering. I point this out to remind everyone who's trying to become a writer that degrees in English Lit or a MA in Creative Writing or years as a journalist are TOTALLY UNNECESSARY in becoming a writer. Hey, you don't even need to have had an exciting life (but having one of some sort does help).
I'm not even quite sure how much talent you need, either. We've all read some truly appalling books that have been best-sellers, haven't we?
But what you need is FAITH. Now I'm not venturing into Richard Dawkins/Phillip Pullman territory here with the nature of God and all that, but more belief in what you're doing. The years, the reams of paper and the endless fustration at rejections do not matter if you have faith. If others have faith too. You'll be amazed how far such passion will get you.
You've heard much about my agent, Sarah Davies. She is first and foremost in The Faithful. If you're agent doesn't have faith in your ability, find another agent. Simple as.
But today I'm talking about Jerry Kalajian, my film agent.
Jerry read Devil's Kiss back when it was just a bundle of loose A4 sheets. Now that seems like ancient history but it was just 4 years ago. Surprising how much can happen in that time. Since then he's had faith and HUGE passion that this is a story he could sell. We had a few near misses and most people would have given up. Hollywood turns quickly and things can become old very quickly. Just look at Megan Fox's career (just joking, Megan. Dropping out of Transformers 3 was a GOOD CALL).
But Jerry had faith and believed in Devil's Kiss and Billi SanGreal.
Then, Gale Anne Hurd came on board.
Gale's the producer of The Walking Dead series, and also The Terminator and Aliens. She was married to James Cameron and is an Arsenal fan. I'm not sure how all these facts are related but she was looking for a new female action hero and Jerry sent her Devil's Kiss.
Beatrice, the VP of Gale's production company, Valhalla Motion Pictures (cool or what?) read it and then a meeting was arranged, as I happened to be heading out to LA for the book tour anyway.
So, one morning in March Jerry and I were sitting in the lobby of Gale's office. The wall is covered with posters from her career. We've got The Punisher, Terminator, Aliens, Aeon Flux, we've got the Hulk.
Remember, a few years earlier my career was based on designs of central heating systems. The only posters I saw were the layouts of kitchen units.
The world turns on faith. We need to believe in what's possible more than what's already out there. Jerry has been an amazing example of that and I pity anyone with an agent who's not even half as dedicated. Then with Beatrice and Gale championing Billi the books have now been optioned by Gaumont Pictures. There's talk of a Billi SanGreal tv series, which is insanely cool because now Buffy's retired we need a new kick-ass vampire/demon/werewolf-slaying heroine, don't we? I'll keep you totally informed should such an event happen but, hey, a trip out to Hollywood is nice and there's always the next book.
This isn't about me boasting but telling you, whatever you're doing, you have no idea where it can lead. With writing, there is no reason you can't be as big as anyone already out there. Yes, that includes JK Rowlings. Why not? I really, REALLY do believe that faith will get you further than you imagine. Yes, it must be backed up with work and more work, but believing that you can succeed and be as good as anyone else out there on the shelves is fundamental. There's an awful lot of bad fiction selling by the truckload (most of it involving vampires I'm afraid). You can write better then them, can't you? Look at it this way, even if you do only as half as well as JK, that's £250 million in the bank, isn't it?
Now, where did I put that Aston Martin catalogue..?


Nick Cross said...

You're certainly having a wild ride of it - long may it continue!

I think self-belief is a key part of that faith, a belief that your work is superior to other stuff out there, or at least worthy of notice. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the more fragile weapons in the writer's armoury. Building and maintaining that self-belief is a major part of the maturation process of a writer, in my opinion. I'm still working on it, but getting better!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more! That is very exciting news and I can't wait to hear more.