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?