From a writing novice just seven short years ago to having his sixth novel published this summer; Steve Alten could easily be held up as the perfect example of how hard work breeds success.
In that time he has made the New York times best selling list as well as other best seller lists all around the world --not bad for a man who had never written any fiction before he attempted to write his first novel! At this moment in time, Steve is in the throes of courting Hollywood in the long and hard process of trying to get his first novel, Meg, turned into a movie! Here he tells us a little about how he is progressing...
OH. At the moment, you are working hard on getting your novel, Meg, turned into a movie. How have you found dealing with Hollywood studios and executives? Was it a case of they welcomed you with open arms or have you had to knock loudly on a lot of doors?
SA. Nothing had happened in regards to the Meg movie since Hollywood Pictures failed to renew the rights back in 1998. Since then, we had interest, but nothing with names that carried real weight...until Nick Nunziata, a friend, supporter, and the creator behind CHUD.com took interest in bringing the movie to his friend, Guillermo Del Toro, director of Hellboy. Guillermo loved Meg, and told his directors, Larry Gordon and Lloyd Levin about it. They read my screenplay, and flew me to LA for a creative meeting, along with my manager, Ken Atchity. Their input was tremendous, and I made some changes for the better. The script lured a major director. I am now completing some tweaks based on his notes. Hopefully we'll use the finalized script to grab a studio deal. But I love the new script.
OH. You have been trying to get your novel, Meg, turned into a film for quite a while now. In all the time since, did you ever lose faith in the work? Did you at any time maybe begin to doubt the novels suitability for the big screen?
SA. I have always believed the novels are perfect for the big screen. But my novels are BIG, tent pole productions, and require major talent. Fortunately, I am meeting the talent in Hollywood now, including producer David Foster and screenwriter Nick Myer, who are attached to novel #7, The LOCH.
OH. You have written the screenplay for Meg yourself. Did you find it difficult adapting your own work?
SA. It is a challenge. I need fresh eyes to help me unshackle myself from the book. But once I sense the new direction, it's fun. I am working on adapting Domain now--a book I never would have attempted years ago. The story and research wore me out (3 years) but writing the sequel, Resurrection, seemed to reinvigorate me to the story. The screenplay reads like Independence Day meets Matrix & Indiana Jones.
OH. You have had 6 novels published now, would you like to see them all turned into movies?
SA. Absolutely. My seventh novel, The LOCH, will be out Spring 2005. My sixth novel, Meg; Primal Waters, was just released July 1st. Fans won't be disappointed.
OH. As I stated before, you wrote the screenplay for Meg yourself and you have also written other original screenplays. First, do you enjoy writing screenplays? And secondly how, for you does the whole process of writing a screenplay differ from, say, writing a novel?
SA. Screenplays allow me to take a break from writing novels, which require far more research and time. So yes, I enjoy the break. Of course, with an original screenplay, it is hard writing on spec, while my novels always have a good chance of bringing in a paycheck. The two skills are polar opposites, and it took many years to learn how to write a screenplay. I am always learning.
OH. At what time during your writing career did you start to believe that a film of your work was a possibility? Was it as soon as your first published novel or did it take you a few published novels before you even dreamt of seeing your work up there on the silver screen?
SA. Well, with Meg, we sold the dramatic rights before the book was done. Still, I believed my novels would be adapted when I first started writing. You have to believe it first in order to do the work.
OH. Having interviewed you before, I know that you are a very ambitious person. So, if your novel, Meg, is turned into a film what are your hopes for it? Would you be happy to enjoy the experience of seeing your work turned into a film or would anything other than a summer blockbuster be a disappointment?
SA. Hell, no. I expect the movie to be one of the top 5 grossing movies of all time. Meg has that kind of potential.
OH. Finally, you have had success in novel writing and now it looks as if you will also have great success in writing screenplays, do you have any other writing ambitions left? Maybe a move into poetry perhaps?
SA. Poetry? Smack me if I start writing poetry! But I have written a comedy that I love called Mintz Meats. We'll be taking it out soon.
If you want to have regular updates on every aspect of Steves work, his website address is www.stevealten.com. ________________________________________________________________________________________
Owen Hollifield 2004