Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Guest Blogger Charlie Cochrane - Saving Jonty and Orlando?

A few weeks ago, we watched “Saving Mr. Banks”. (Which, because of the Tom Hanks connection is known chez Cochrane as “Saving Private Banks” but I digress...) It’s a very interesting film. Mr. Cochrane, being a devoted father of three girls, was literally moved to tears by the family flashbacks, the slow descent of PL Travers’s father into alcoholism and his interaction with her. Beautifully done.

However, for me, it’s the scenes with P L Travers herself at the Disney studios, negotiating (being manipulated?) her way through the transformation of book to film, which I can’t get out of my mind. What would I have done in her position, being asked to give permission for changes to be made to her story which she simply didn’t want to be made, for a film she was opposed to from the start? I kept wanting to shout, “No! Don’t do it!” at the screen.

Now, I’m a pragmatic soul. “What cover do you want, Charlie?” the publisher asks. “One that sells, please,” I reply. Yet sometimes pragmatism had to give way to integrity. What if somebody came along and wanted to turn the Cambridge Fellows books into a film or TV series? “Great,” I’d say. “Bring it on.” But what if they wanted to make wholly unacceptable changes? For example, to set it in a Cambridge as false as the London of the Mary Poppins film? (No, Mr. Disney, that was not a British robin feathering its nest.)

What if they’d wanted to change the tone of the stories? To introduce some heterosexual love interest or (has a panic attack) change the relationship between Jonty and Orlando to friends from lovers. Worse still to have – this is the stuff of nightmares – somebody playing Jonty or Orlando who had the equivalent of Dick Van Dyke’s desperately bad cockney accent.

See? It’s an author’s nightmare. I guess we’ve all played the “casting” game, thinking about who we’d have playing our favourite characters in a TV adaptation: maybe we’ve used the images of those people when we’ve been writing the story itself, or when filling in our cover art requests. In the event of a film or television adaptation really happening, we’d probably have very little say in much of the production stuff. Ultimately, the only sanction we’d have is not to sell the performance rights (I hope you’ve checked your paperwork to ensure you haven’t signed them away because they appear as a default in some publisher’s draft contracts), although if we were put under the sort of pressure that the Disney corporation seem to have exerted on P L Travers, we’d have to be damn strong to resist.

What would be the deal breaker for you and your characters? I think I’d put up with a lot for most of my books (so long as the homosexual love element was never eliminated) but watching that film had made me realise that Jonty and Orlando are an exception.

Now I’m going to go and lie down in a darkened room, as I’ve had a ghastly image come into my head of Justin Bieber as Jonty and Zac Efron as Orlando...

As Charlie Cochrane couldn't be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with books published by Samhain, Carina, MLR, BSB and (coming soon!) Riptide.

Charlie's Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team of the UK Meet, for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames, five dizzy but delightful mystery writers.

Links, etc:

You can reach Charlie at cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com (maybe to sign up for her newsletter?) or catch her on Facebook, twitter, goodreads, her website or her blog.


Charlie Cochrane said...

Thanks for hosting me!

Anonymous said...

Justin Beiber and Zac Efron? Charlie, you have a twisted mind.

Charlie Cochrane said...

Alas I do, Elin.