Five years ago, I got an email from two Hollywood producers who wanted to turn my first novel, Carrie Pilby, into a movie. I was thrilled, but reminded myself not to expect much. After all, in the years since the book’s publication in 2003, two other production companies had paid me a few thousand dollars each to option the rights for a year, and nothing had come of it. Should I really fantasize about my characters living and breathing on the big screen?
The novel tells the story of the nerdy 19-year-old Carrie, who graduated from Harvard three years early and has no idea how to date or make friends in New York. It was published in the middle of the “chick lit” craze, when offbeat single-gal books like Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing were taking over the publishing industry. Luckily, reviewers said mine was one of the more original novels in the genre, and it went on to sell 74,000 copies worldwide. But nearly a decade later, I was struggling with revisions to a new book, still living in a tiny apartment in the town I’d moved to after college, and about to turn 40. I really wanted my writing to reach a new audience. Actually, I really wanted to be able to afford furniture.
Every other author I knew who’d dealt with Tinseltown had emerged disappointed. One novelist friend whose single-girl book came out around the same time as mine saw the rights quickly gobbled up by producers, who then nabbed Lindsay Lohan to star. My friend waited for the movie to happen for more than a decade—then wound up writing a novel about an author who waits for her book to become a movie. Another colleague, a best-selling novelist, saw her project green-lit and script completed, but the project fell apart when, supposedly, two of the main producers became romantically involved and ran off together….