To sell out or not to sell out…

Writer’s blog: Stardate: 26.10.2013

I receive communications almost every day from readers who have dipped their toes in my stream. This week I was contacted by a reader who has gone on to try the Acer Sansom books after the Romney and Marsh Files. (See last week’s panic post.) I am happy to report that the switch of genre and characters appeared to please the lady in question. What did concern her was that when the Acer Sansom books get Hollywood sitting up, taking notice and reaching for their cheque books would I remain true to my art and my authorial integrity and insist on Acer, for one, being played by a star who bears some physical resemblance to the hero of my books? And this got me wondering.

Everyone knows about Tom Cruise playing the part of Jack Reacher in the movie One Shot and I wouldn’t mind betting that everyone who has read and enjoyed a Reacher book has an opinion on whether Cruise should have been let anywhere near the script. (For those who are bewildered by all this, Jack Reacher is described by his creator in the same terms, physically, as one would describe a brick-outhouse. Actually, with his lack of toiletries and clean clothing he probably smells like one too. Tom Cruise, physically, resembles something that Jack Reacher might leave behind in a brick-outhouse. Nothing personal, Tom. I know you follow my blog. I’m just making a point. Still on for drinks on Saturday?)

Plenty of people I know and on online forums were appalled ne disgusted and insulted by what they saw as the author’s selling out of one of the most famous characters in contemporary fiction. I don’t even know if it was Jim Grant’s aka Lee Child’s decision to let Cruise have the name the role and therefore destroy the public image of the fictional big guy. But if it was, why? (Don’t tell me Jim needs the money.) Or whoever it was, why? Surely whoever was responbsible had some sort of vested interest in the brand ‘Reacher’. So why corrupt and ridicule it like that? Could it have been worse if they’d portrayed Reacher as a closet transvestite? I think we should be told.

Anyway, when the time comes, will I be so easily bought? Will I allow an onscreen Acer to disappoint his dozens of fans? Will I allow my author’s integrity to stand in the way of early retirement by refusing to sell Acer short (snigger)…for something as disgusting as money?

I don’t even know if this is my decision to make. I want to ask those same dozens of readers who now know Acer like I know Acer: would it really be such a big deal if Ronnie Corbett played Acer Sansom in Dirty Business the movie?

10 thoughts on “To sell out or not to sell out…

  1. What a terrible dilemma to face! Can’t wait to agonise over it 😉 NB I actually thought TC wasn’t half bad as Reacher, the obvious discrepancies notwithstanding. I also think Idris Elba would have been ace………………………………………………………………………………..

    • Yeah it’s gonna be a toughie. Ronnie Corbett or Jimmy Krankie? I have a Reacher reader friend who thought Tom wasn’t bad, but I’m not in a rush to see the movie. I do have quite a problem with the casting as you might have gathered. Idris Elba? Not seen him in anything. In fact never heard of him. (Google!). One of the drawbacks of living in a country with no watchable TV.
      Best wishes.

  2. I stumbled on the Romney & Marsh books, thinking they would be a mild distraction but I needed to get through those and the Acer Sansom ones as soon as I could. Not since the Jack Reacher novels have I been so engrossed. The storyline is tight, plausible and engrossing. Hopefully there’s more just around the corner?

    • John
      Many thanks for getting in touch with such an encouraging message. That and your purchases (I don’t care if you got any or all in a promotion) are much appreciated. I’m just glad you’ve liked them.
      I’m working on the fourth Romney and Marsh at present and then I’ll be thinking about Acer again. How many Reacher books are there? About twenty? Where are my skates?
      Best wishes.

  3. I was in Istanbul back in 1972 when it was on “the Hippie Trail” and I’d have been much more careful whilst there, had I been able to see Midnight Express first, which of course didn’t come out until 1978. Enough said about that though. My point is, whatever you do, please never allow some film producer to bastardise any of your books the way Billy Hayes allowed Alan Parker to distort his Midnight Express almost beyond recognition. I had enjoyed the film, but I prefer to read, to going to the cinema and a little while later I read the book, which was so good that it didn’t need to be sensationalised at all. In fact I wouldn’t mind betting that the film put people off reading the book and I’m still amazed that they are allowed to claim that the film is a true story, when in fact it is merely, vaguely based on a true story. Russell.

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