Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book notes - Billy Barnaby's Twisted Christmas

In honor of my novel Billy Barnaby's Twisted Christmas being released as an audiobook, here are some book notes.
  • Billy Barnaby was inspired by the movie Monsters Inc. Not the story itself, but the motivation for writing it. I loved Monsters Inc, and it made me want to write a kids’ story that would delight children everywhere. I don’t feel that I succeeded.
  • I saw Monsters Inc over the Christmas holiday season of 2002, so I decided that my hypothetical delightful children’s story would be a Christmas story.
  • After brainstorming in January, I wrote the first version of the novel between February and mid-March of 2003.
  • Sometime later that year I adapted it into a screenplay.
  • I like to think of the story as a cross between A Christmas Story, Willy Wonka and Die Hard.
  • In 2005, I pitched the screenplay to a producer in Los Angeles, who told me the story needed a more specific threat, to make the danger seem more real. It wasn’t enough, she said, for the villains to threaten something vague, like the entire world. The threat needed to be to a person. Apparently it wasn’t enough that Mrs. Claus was being threatened. So in 2006, I decided to take her advice, and I rewrote the screenplay, cutting a lot of what I thought were boring scenes, and added a storyline where the U.S. President is assassinated. I also ended the story with an opening for a sequel, which the original didn’t have.
  • Of course, a second movie producer, about the same time I was talking with the first, told me the story was too dark and violent for children. So what did I do? I instead took the first producer’s advice, and made the story even more dark and violent, because I don’t think it’s any more dark and violent than a lot of children’s movies I’ve seen (including Disney stuff).
  • The second version of the screenplay was a top 10 Finalist in the 2008 AAA Screenplay Contest sponsored by Creative Screenwriting magazine.
  • It was also in the Top 10% of the 2010 Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition, which is sort of the Rolls Royce, or the Holy Grail, of screenwriting competitions, run by the people who do the Oscars.
  • From 2007 to 2009, I took a break from writing and spent the time illustrating the screenplay into a graphic novel, which is available in print on Amazon
  • Recently, in 2012, I finally got around to working the revised screenplay version back into the original novel.
  • Eventually I plan to write a sequel, which I’m tentatively calling Butch Blackman’s Twisted Christmas.

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