So . . . Which of my novels would make the best movie? Naturally, I like them all and truly believe each of them would make a great film. I’ll tell you why.
When you go to a theater to see the movie version of a good work of fiction, you hope it will be true to the book. This means portraying the characters as you recall them and sticking to the plot. Then there’s the setting. If there are supposed to be mountains, you want to see mountains. And all these fleshed out with action.
A movie version of Circles in the Water with a carefully selected cast would have audiences in love with Colletta from the opening scene—a tough little tomboy ready to fight her way into the boys’ gang if that’s what it took. Donnie Shand would exhibit unexpected maturity, Jimmie would be indecisive and ready to follow Donnie’s lead, and Ray-Gene would be gentle and caring and always ready to forgive.
The movie makers might need to be a bit restrained in making the scene in which we first meet Jaybo—it you’ve read the book you’ll understand why—and in portraying the fatal domestic quarrel between Donnie Shand’s parents. But both are elements that buttress the plot and need to be included.
In their adult world, Jimmie’s story must have strong support from the military figures who inhabit his Army life: the all-Airborne Colonel Hewlett, the menacing Captain Oates, and Wilson, the rehab attendant who helps make Jimmie whole again after his near-fatal bad jump and who becomes his rock-solid support as Colletta re-emerges into his life with the child Jimmie hasn’t seen before.
Surely a good director would love to work with the strong character that is Jimmie’s mother and Colletta’s weak but consistent father, alcoholic and racist. Then there are the two FBI agents and the crusty and crafty Judge Pillory. And although he’s much less important, Mack Brown, the used-car dealer who gives Jimmie his first job, could be a notable personality on the screen if well-played. Mack was my first un-planned character. I had the freedom to make of him anything I chose.
There is a lot of action in Circles. The perilous smuggling activity Jimmie is drawn into by Captain Oates, the flashback period of Colletta’s teenaged addiction and the dangerous lengths to which the boys are willing to go to help support it, Ray-Gene’s shocking fate and Donnie Shand’s downfall, these all are the stuff of good movies.
But Circles in the Water is a love story. Movie-goers might shed a few tears over the trials and tribulations faced by Jimmie and Colletta, who clearly belong together. And in the end . . . but I shouldn’t give that away here, for those who haven’t read the book.
Combine all this with the small-town South Carolina setting, including the dazzling Grand Strand beaches where the young foursome of Jimmie, Colletta, Ray-Gene, and Donnie Shand do things that will come back to haunt them in later life, and you have—well, it seems to me, a very good movie.
So is Circles in the Water, my first novel, my choice to be made into a movie? It would be a good one. But I’ve got a few more books to consider. I’ll post on the subject again next week, taking a look at my second novel, The Life and Death of Lizzie Morris.
Please join me.