Great news from Australian Writers’ Centre presenter and podcast co-host Allison Tait. Her successful series The Mapmaker Chronicles has been optioned for film – snapped up by Australian production company Whoa Flamingo!
Whoa indeed. And while that doesn’t mean you’ll be buying popcorn and watching it any time in the near future, it does mean that they’ve called “dibs” on getting the film developed. (There are many hoops to jump through before then.) Naturally, Allison is excited to announce the discovery of this new territory for her trilogy – so we sat her down, blindfolded her, and asked her some questions.
Hi Allison. First up, let’s remove that blindfold. Sorry, not sure what we were thinking. Okay, so tell us, how and when did this whole “turning your book into a movie” thing come about?
“It’s taken six months to get to this point. In May, my agent (Jo Butler at Cameron’s Management) received a phone call out of the blue from Darren Ashton at Australian production company Whoa Flamingo, saying how much he loved the books. I had to sit down for a minute when she told me. Then I pretty much had to lie down when Darren said that he’d like me to be involved in writing the screenplay.”
That’s amazing! Although we recommend sitting up again when you do write it. So what have you done to prepare yourself for writing the screenplay?
“I’m doing a lot of reading because I’ve never written a screenplay or even considered writing one. I’m also watching a lot of films, but not in an ‘isn’t this good?’ kind of way. More in a ‘how did they make this so good?’ kind of way.”
We also recommend our Screenwriting Stage 1 course with Tim Gooding if you’re ever in Sydney! So did you ever think this eventuality was possible when you first started writing?
“It never even crossed my mind. I took a random idea about mapmakers and started writing what turned into a trilogy. I was beyond excited when Suzanne O’Sullivan at Hachette Australia said she wanted to publish them. I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the brilliant response that readers have had to the series. And now this… Picture me lying down again.”
You really can’t spend all day lying down – there’s work to be done! So okay, let’s get serious. What do you think the challenges will be?
“It’s all a challenge because I do not underestimate the differences between novels and screenplays. And I know that I am a complete novice in this area. Fortunately for me, the Whoa Flamingo team will be guiding me through the process, and have also found me an amazing mentor, so I am one very relieved writer. I’m also under no illusions about the difficulties of ever getting a film made – it’s a huge and lengthy process that often is never brought to fruition. But, oh, I am so happy that I’ve been invited along for the ride.”
So you should be! It’s like your own uncharted map in a way. Okay, so let’s get to the fun stuff. If you could choose ANYONE in the world, who would you cast in the film?
“Well, now, this is the big question, isn’t it? And I don’t have an answer to it, simply because the characters as they appear in my head are such complete beings that it’s hard for me to imagine. I’ll leave the casting to the experts… Both of my boys have put their hands up to be Quinn, and I’ve actually received letters from readers offering their services should a movie ever be made, so it looks as though we’ll have no shortage of candidates should we ever get to audition stage.”
Absolutely. Although we’re sure George Clooney or Bradley Cooper could make cameos as shipmate number six or something. Thanks Allison! And for those of you who want to be able to say “I read the books first”, make sure you do just that. Head over to the Mapmaker Chronicles website where all three are now available. And we’ll wait to see where the next stage of this quest leads!