Much of last week I spent with a screenwriter and a director, to talk about the film adaptation of ‘A Long Way Down’. The screenwriter, my friend DV Devincentis, also adapted High Fidelity; the director must remain nameless, simply because he’s not officially attached to the project, although both screenwriter and novelist would like him to be.
I have been told several times that ‘A Long Way Down’ would make a good film. It’s true that in the opening chapters there are four people standing on a roof, and that could be made to look pretty cool on screen. But after that, there are plenty of problems for DV to solve. There are four points of view in the novel, four different voices; you can’t film that. About big chunk of the book is back-story, the characters explaining how they arrived at their current predicament; you can’t film that, either, not without resorting to an excessive, clunky use of flashback. Most of the action takes place in rooms – one climactic scene takes place in a Starbucks basement. (Note to budding novelists: if you really want to make some money out of Hollywood, set all climactic scenes up a mountain, or at the bottom of the sea, or even on the ground floor of Starbucks, somewhere with windows.)
I enjoyed the few days we spent talking about the book, though, because I was made to talk about things I’m not usually made to talk about, namely, the thousands of tiny decisions that must be made during the writing of a novel. I seem to spend an awful lot of time talking about my work, during interviews and events, and yet somehow these things never come up – in interviews at least, the questions I’m asked tend to be about my career as a whole. And yet without these decisions, of course, there’d be no career.