dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author

Saturday was a glorious day for a book launch party at the Hockessin Book Shelf in Hockessin, Delaware! I was thrilled to see so many friends, former teaching colleagues, fellow writers, and young readers come to celebrate the release of The Morrigan’s Curse. I even got to see a friend from high school who I haven’t seen (except on Facebook) since our 5th class reunion. (Which was only a few years ago — HAHAHAHA!)

Here are a few photos:

Books and Crow

Me with Cake

With Nancy and Rebecca

With Beth

signing for Matt

As I was getting ready to write this post, I remembered writing a similar one at the beginning of February 2015 for the launch of The Inquisitor’s Mark. Then I got a little curious about what I was blogging about in previous Februarys … and I took a little time machine tour, via the archives, to find out.

* Engage the machine that makes everything swirly*

2015 — Celebrating the release of The Inquisitor’s Mark.

2014 — Housebound by an ice storm. Using the opportunity to write 9000 words in The Morrigan’s Curse, specifically the first draft of the climax.

2013 — Finishing up the first draft of The Inquisitor’s Mark and getting ready for pre-release promotions of The Caged Graves.

2012 — Thinking about leaving my comfort zone to attempt an urban fantasy about a secret day of the week, even though I considered myself a historical fiction writer. Wasn’t sure I was going to do it. (!!!!)

2011 — Bemoaning the fact that I was feeling my way through the first draft of a WIP like I was playing Blind Man’s Bluff. (Interesting, since I’m doing that again this year …)

2010 — Alternately ranting about standardized testing and posting historical tidbits related to We Hear the Dead that nobody read because my blog was brand new and I didn’t have any followers.

*Let’s swirly ourselves back to the present*

An interesting trip! And a bit scary, since I’d forgotten how close I came to NOT writing The Eighth Day, which, as you can see, consumed my next three years.

I wonder what I’ll be blogging about in 2017?

 

 

Recently, The Spirit Game, the 6-minute film short based on my novel, We Hear the Dead, directed by Craig Goodwill and starring Katharine Isabelle, Katie Boland, and Charles Shaughnessy, was posted on YouTube, where you can now watch it for free. Yay!

 

If you haven’t been following my blog for long, you might not know the story of how this film came to be made.  A long time ago I posted How I Got My Film Option — which involves feng shui and painting the front door — but the shorter version is that my book was optioned for film back in 2009 by Amy Green of One Eye Open Studios. It wasn’t even published as We Hear the Dead at that time. The original option was for the self published version, which was called High Spirits.

Shortly after acqNew film posteruiring the option. Amy talked me into writing the screenplay (in spite of my telling her I didn’t know how). She and I worked together and over the course of about 18 months — and 8 drafts — we collaborated on a full length movie script. Now I can technically say I’m a screenwriter … even though no one ever made a movie with that script. I got a lot of compliments on it, but no backers.

Eventually, director Craig Goodwill became interested in the project. He and Amy decided to apply for a grant from BravoFACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent). Amy and Craig are Canadian; most of the cast would be Canadian. But I’m not. So at that point I had to bow out, and they brought in a Canadian screenwriter. (I did however get to act as a consultant on the historical details. Fun!)

The movie was filmed in November of 2012 and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. (No, I didn’t attend.) This 6 minute story does not come from any particular scene in my book, but it does neatly capture the main premise: Three sisters run a fraudulent seance business. One of the three may also have real paranormal talent, but since she’s also addicted to laudanum, her sisters don’t believe her.production photo

After Cannes, the producer and director began pitching the idea for a television series, with the film being used as a teaser. They even wrote a pilot episode, and once again I got to be the consultant on historical details. I wish I could say that a series was sold and in the works, but no … not yet at least!

I still think this is all very cool. Lots of books get optioned for film and nothing happens after that. But I’m honored to have one unsold screenplay to my credit, a script for a pilot episode, a series “bible”, and a short film with some well-known faces in it that went to Cannes!

 

 

The Spirit Game

It’s a little more than a month until The Eighth Day releases, and lots of fun stuff is happening all at once! Reviews are coming in from professionals and advance readers, and I’m starting to schedule signing events. (Check the sidebar for places and dates! Most of them are local to me, but I’ve got one in Alexandria, Virginia. Any blogging buddies live out that way?)

Last Friday I got a sneak peek at what HarperCollins is brewing for the cover of The Inquisitor’s Mark. I can’t share it yet, but I can tell you I’m really impressed. It’s nothing like I had imagined for this book, but it’s thrilling and sinister and perfect.

This past weekend, I got word that The Spirit Game, the short film inspired by my book We Hear the Dead, is available to rent or own through Vimeo on Demand. You can find it HERE and watch it for $0.99 on your computer or other video-playing device.

Finally, I’m confident I’ll have my manuscript for Book 3 ready to turn in on time to my editor. I still have some issues to work out and revise in Draft 4, but I’m feeling SO MUCH BETTER about this book than I did back in January. And I know that when my editors gets their hands on it, they’ll help me take it to the next level.


I am currently entrenched in editorial revisions for THE EIGHTH DAY, due May 13 — the day before THE CAGED GRAVES releases — so I’m going to keep this update brief.

THE SPIRIT GAME will be showcased in the Not Short On Talent market screenings at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival (May 15 to 26, 2013). According to director Craig Goodwill, “Not Short On Talent is a collection of five 90-minute programs destined to screen at the Cannes Market and at the Festival’s Short Film Corner venue. The initiative is designed to increase the international exploitation of new short films and to promote short film talent to international buyers and festival programmers.”

Meanwhile, THE CAGED GRAVES was named a Junior Library Club selection, which is a pretty big thing. It’s one of the earliest awards given to a book — usually before the release — and is often considered a bellwether of success. This is pretty cool! I’ve also seen some early reviews: Kirkus said, “This unusual romantic mystery stands out” and Publisher’s Weekly called it “an absorbing, atmospheric, and dense work of historical fiction.” 

Dense is a compliment in this case, right?  I hope so!

I recently had the opportunity to view an almost-final cut of THE SPIRIT GAME, which will soon be making the 2013 film festival rounds. It was a strange and exhilarating experience, to see my characters come to life. I’d say “once in a lifetime,” but my husband would reply, “Of course, it’s not once in a lifetime!” Bob fully expects to see my other books on film, too.

What was it like? First of all, I have to point out that my book, WE HEAR THE DEAD, is a fictional interpretation of the real events surrounding the Fox sisters and the rise of Spiritualism in the 1850s. Consider then that a screenwriter interpreted my book. And a director interpreted the screenplay, and the individual actors interpreted their parts.  The end result may not be exactly what I pictured while writing, but fascinating and beautiful nevertheless. I was a contributor to this project, but only one of many. The story is no longer mine alone.
People have asked me, “How can a movie tell the story of your book in ten minutes?”  Well, of course, it can’t. This is just one episode. People then ask, “Oh, which episode in the book does the movie cover?” And the answer is – none.
The screenwriter had to write a ten minute film that gave a flavor of the whole story. It had to be complete enough to satisfy viewers of the short film and tantalizing enough to interest a studio in funding a feature film or television series.
From start to finish, the film shows the Fox sisters before, during, and after a single séance. It gives a quick portrait of each sister:
  • Leah — hungry for fame and wealth and mastermind of the fraud
  • Maggie — kind-hearted and the peace-keeper among her sisters, but morally conflicted
  • Kate — addicted to laudanum, tormented, and possibly afflicted with a real talent

Kate is probably the farthest removed from the character in my book because the film-makers decided to make her older than the young teen in my novel. But this Kate is a valid interpretation of the real one, who performed as a medium from the age of eleven until her death at fifty-five. She is exactly what my Kate is destined to become, even if she hasn’t reached that point by the time my novel ends.
And the séance participants have their own story, as well – one created by the screenwriter Lesley Krueger – and one totally in line with the time period and the type of clientele the Fox sisters used to service.
I am thrilled and honored to have been a part in this whole process and that my book was the inspiration for it (just as the historic events were inspiration for my book). My fingers are crossed that this leads to bigger things. 

I’m thrilled that I am now allowed to share this Behind-the-Scenes video about THE SPIRIT GAME, the short film based on my book WE HEAR THE DEAD. This was a fascinating glimpse into the production, and I have to thank Amy Green for prominently mentioning my book as the inspiration. It is exciting to see an actor like Charles Shaughnessy enthusiastic about the project and to hear actress Katie Boland talk about the role of Maggie Fox, the main character in my book. I was also very amused to hear Liberty Ross talk about Leah Fox in a personal way. Some people might consider Leah to be the villain of my book. Clearly, Liberty understands she is more complicated than that.

And, having seen director Craig Goodwill’s films PATCHTOWN and ARTIST UNKNOWN, I can’t wait to see how he visually conceives this project. I’m sure it will be stunning.

Along with the video, I also got my first look at the official movie poster this weekend. See my name at the bottom, next to the director’s name?  Another squee-able moment.


BHS TSG copy from Craig Goodwill on Vimeo.