So apparently this is a blogmeme. A bleme. It’s called ‘The Next Big Thing’ and seems to be the C21st version of a chain letter. A writer-director I know in Australia called Antony Mann did it, after he was pinged by another guy called Adrian Deans, who had been pinged by someone else who had been pinged by someone else etc. Who knows how these things start?
You can follow the bleme on twitter too, I think - #thenextbigthing.
Anyway, Antony pinged me, so now I’m doing it. At the bottom I’m pinging a few other bloggers, in the hopes that they’ll do it, too. Feel free to take this on yourselves, even if I haven’t pinged you directly.
It’s a list of questions that everyone has been asked to answer about their next project. Whether that will eventually be a Big Thing or not remains to be seen, but I suppose it’s always Big to the writer at the time of writing. The questions were conceived for novelists, it appears, but I’m tweaking for screenwriting. Off we go.
1) What is the working title of your current/next book?
2) Where did the idea come from?
It’s a true story. I was working on a training film for the British army and one of the soldiers we were working with mentioned the incident. It set my spidey-senses a-tinglin’.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
(Spot the inappropriate question for screenwriters.) The answer reminds me of the quote from ‘The Player’ – “no stars, just talent” etc. We’ll probably end up with Bruce Willis and Julia Roberts. In truth, it’s a dozen young male soldiers in their early 20s, so we’re hoping to find a lot of new talent, the Faces of 2014.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A detachment of Paras try to rescue a comrade from a minefield in Helmand province, and find themselves in a fight for their own lives.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It has been commissioned by a production company, Pukka Films, who are hoping to finance and shoot it themselves later on this year.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
About six months of research, mainly one-to-one interviews with those involved, and with the parents of the soldier who lost his life, reading through detailed first hand testimonies from the Army’s Board of Inquiry and the coroner’s Inquest, press reports, other books written on the subject etc. The first draft itself took two weeks – a case of the writer trying to stand at the back of the room and let this amazing story tell itself.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Other film reference points are ‘United 93’ and the Katherine Bigelow films ‘The Hurt Locker’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’. Detached, documentary-style observation, with the power of dramatic storytelling.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
We want to make a modern British war movie. They just aren’t out there. We want to examine why and how these young men risk their lives in a confused conflict in a foreign country. And we want to pay tribute to their bravery, their comradeship, their sacrifice.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
We’re avoiding the political, and simply concentrating on the fate of the ten men, in that minefield, on that afternoon. This is about their view of the war, not the generals’ or the politicians’. It’s also an interesting side note that the mines that were causing all this damage were legacy mines from an earlier Russian occupation, thirty years earlier. There are no Taliban in this movie, and no shots fired.
So that’s me. Now I’d like to ping this onto:
Danny Stack – film-maker and blogger - http://dannystack.blogspot.co.uk/
Tim Clague – film-maker and blogger - http://projectorfilms.blogspot.co.uk/
Chris Jones – film-maker and blogger and festival organiser and a few other things besides - http://www.chrisjonesblog.com/
Ed Caesar – journalist and author and screenwriter and second row - http://www.edcaesar.co.uk/
Guy Walters – historian and novelist and epicurean and petanqueriste – will respond via twitter, if anything - https://twitter.com/guywalters
Take it away, boys.