Friday, June 19, 2020

Straight from the Mouth of Author David Armstrong: "It's All About Timing"

Name: David Armstrong


Book Title: The Rising Place




Buy book: The Rising Place by David Armstrong


Shortly after I completed my second novel, The Rising Place, I read an article about a film premiere by a Mississippi director/producer that was being held in Jackson, Mississippi, not far from my hometown of Natchez. As I read the article about his film, I was struck by the similarities between my novel and what his movie was about.

I got the crazy idea (or so it seemed, at the time) that Tom (the director) just might be looking for an idea for his next film (This is what I mean by “crazy”—directors and producers are always inundated with ideas and scripts!).

So, I got in my brand new, Mercedes Benz (yeah, right—actually, it was an old Toyota Tercel) and drove to Jackson with my polished manuscript, The Rising Place, in hand.

After the showing, which was well attended, Tom stayed and answered various questions from audience members. I didn’t ask Tom anything; I was waiting for my chance to meet him, personally, and pitch my manuscript for his next film.

Well, after all the questions and answers were finally over, and Tom was leaving the theatre, I cornered him before he made it to his waiting car and introduced myself.

His natural response was, “Who the hell are you, and what the hell is that you’re holding in your hand?” (Film directors and producers, I’ve noticed, use the word, “hell,” a lot—must be a Hollywood thing.)

I told Tom my name, that I was an attorney, former Natchez mayor, and that I once ran for the U.S. Congress.

Tom was quite gracious and replied, “So, what the hell am I supposed to be—impressed, or something?”

“No,” I told him back, “but I do think you’ll be impressed with this manuscript I brought you.”

“I doubt it,” Tom informed me, “but, hell, why not. Give it to me, and I’ll try to read it on the plane when I fly back to L.A. It’s a helluva long flight back, you know.”

So, I handed Tom my manuscript. He got inside his friend’s BMW, and they drove away into the night, without even honking goodbye (which is the polite thing to do in Mississippi).

A whole year passed. Then, one night, I got a phone call from Tom (When he told me his full name, it didn’t even register with me.). “Hey, David, this is Tom.”

“Tom who?”

“Tom, from Hollywood. I finally finished reading your manuscript, and I loved the hell out of it!”

“Great!” I said.

“I want it to be my next film.”

“Great,” I told him, again. “I never doubted that. So, Tom—how much you gonna’ pay me for it?”

And that was the start of an eighteen-month collaboration between Tom and myself for the filming of The Rising Place. The film won sixteen film festival awards and opened in both L.A. and New York before going to DVD.

Unfortunately, I naturally assumed that selling the book rights to a publisher would be a cinch since there was already a great film out about the story. Boy, was I wrong! Most publishers weren’t interested because they couldn’t acquire potential film rights, as well. The rest seemed to be put off by the epistolary, writing style that I used (where letters tell the story, as in that wonderful novel, The Color Purple). Anyway, I never could find a publisher. So, I stopped trying and wrote another novel, The Third Gift, which will be released this summer, in addition to four screenplays.

Fast forward several years. I decided to try to sell The Rising Place, again, and was blessed to find a great Indie publisher, The Wild Rose Press, that loved it. The novel was released on April 27th on Amazon, and my editor at The Wild Rose Press and I are busy editing The Third Gift, before its upcoming release.

As I said above, it’s all about timing….


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