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.