Friday, December 7, 2007

PDD re-interviews author Marcus Sakey, by Lonnie Cruse

My blog post today is an interview with author Marcus Sakey. You might remember that PDD interviewed Marcus before, but his book has since been contracted to be made into a movie, which makes other authors drool with envy. So we decided to invite him back and get the skinny on this exciting developement. Please grab your drool towels and check it out. And if you want more to drool over, check out Sakey's website, listed below. He's not too hard to look at.

PDD: We understand that LivePlanet, the production company owned by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon just purchased movie rights to your book, THE BLADE ITSELF. Congratulations! Did you or your agent go after that sale, or did they come to you?

MS: Thanks! I'm thrilled about it. Credit mostly goes to my film agent, Sarah Self, who worked hard to get the novel to production companies she felt were a good fit. We're both fans of LivePlanet, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's production company, so it's a real pleasure that the book landed there. They did an amazing job adapting Dennis Lehane's GONE BABY GONE, and the same team is slated to work on mine.

PDD: Do you know if either or both of these fine actors will star in the movie? Or are they only interested in producing it? And any chance YOU will appear in the movie?

MS: No idea at all. I'd certainly be thrilled if they did, or if Ben chose to direct--his work on GONE BABY GONE really impressed me. But it's all in their hands now, so other than saying I have great confidence in their judgment, I don't have much to offer.

As for me cameoing, I would love to. There's a scene where a bystander gets killed by having his his throat key-punched--I'm hoping to play the role of the corpse.

PDD: Hehehe, we're sure you'd do a convincing job. Let us know if you get the part. For those who might not know, tell us a bit about what happens when a production company buys the rights to your book. Envious minds want to know!

MS: It's very much a work in progress right now, so I can only tell you as far as I know. Basically, they buy the exclusive option to make a movie, which isn't the same thing as a decision to actually make it. But as they already have a studio, Miramax, on-board, the odds look better.

The first step, after the champagne-popping on my end, is for them to hire a screenwriter to adapt the novel. They've tapped Aaron Stockard, who co-wrote GBG with Affleck. Of course, with the strike, everything is sort of brought to a halt. Hopefully it will be resolved equitably for everybody soon.

Anyway, as I understand it, after that they start trying to attach actors, finalize questions of direction and producing, and if all the stars align, go forward with the film.
PDD: Will you have any voice in the screen play and/or the making of this movie? Or is it all out of your hands?

MS: The folks at LivePlanet have been very generous about including me in the early discussions, and Aaron and I chat by email, so as we move forward I hope to be involved in a very peripheral, support kind of way. But it's largely out of my hands.

Which is a good thing. I think it's a mistake to believe that writing a novel qualifies you to write a movie. I'd rather sign with a crew of people I trust and just let them have it, be able to focus on the next book.

PDD: Tell us a bit about the book, THE BLADE ITSELF. And where readers can get a copy before the movie comes out.

MS: THE BLADE ITSELF is the story of two blue-collar kids and small-time criminals on the South Side of Chicago who one night undertake a robbery that goes desperately wrong. One of them lands in maximum security; the other escapes, and reinvents a new life for himself. But seven years later, his old life comes to visit.

I've been really fortunate critically; it was selected a New York Times Editor's Pick, featured on CBS and NPR, and recently named "One of the Year's 5 Best Reads" by Esquire Magazine. The paperback just came out, which is kind of a thrill for me.

PDD: Wow, a thrill indeed! What inspired you to write the book?

MS: Crushing poverty?

Jokes aside, I always knew I wanted to write. But the seed for this story itself came as I was walking home one day, down the nice street that led to my nice apartment I share with my nice wife. And it hit me suddenly that all of these things could be taken from me--that, in other words, the things we love make us vulnerable. And wham!, I had a conflict and the beginnings of an idea.

PDD: Wow, great begining! How did you find your agent and/or publisher?

MS: Pretty much the old-fashioned way. I queried a whole bunch of agents, got a stack of rejections, and eventually found the right guy, Scott Miller of Trident Media Group. For any interested folks, I've got a pretty detailed article on how to write a query letter and find an agent on my website (link to A lot of people helped me while I was getting started, so I like to share what I've learned about the process where I can.

PDD: Sounds like a great help to authors! What's next on your writing horizon?

MS: My second book, AT THE CITY'S EDGE, comes out January 22nd. It's the story of a discharged soldier who returns from Iraq to find a similar war raging in his Chicago neighborhood. It features corruption and politics and gang warfare and love and redemption and car chases and gun fights and Roman history, all the good stuff. I'm excited about it--I think I've really grown as a writer, and besides, it's just fun to have something new to talk about.

PDD: Sounds like it has something for everyone! Anything else you'd like to tell us about the process of moving your book from paper print to on the screen?

MS: As yet, the process has involved no Thai hookers, leggy models with bedroom eyes. But I'm maintaining hope.

PDD: Thanks, Marcus. Please keep us updated!


Sandra Parshall said...

I think Casey Affleck should play the lead in the movie version of The Blade Itself. I suspect he has a shot at getting the part. :-)

Ken Isaacson said...

Way to go, Marcus! Mazel tov.

Marcus Sakey said...

Thanks, guys! Much appreciated.

As for Casey being in it, after seeing him just kill in Gone Baby Gone, I'd certainly be game.