Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My Hollywood Dreams/Nightmares
by Jo Ann Brown Ferguson

Once upon a time, I had a book (Under the Outlaw Moon)optioned for a movie. The producer got close to her goal of getting it made, but it never happened. I figured that was my last brush with Hollywood.
But wait...
In 2007, a packaging editor I’d worked with asked if I was interested in doing a movie novelization. I’d have two weeks to do it. Because I like a challenge or because I’m a masochist—I’m not sure which—I said sure. The script for Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage arrived via FedEx.
A real script with a big name scriptwriter (nominated for an Oscar) and big name actors (winners of Oscars and Emmys and lots of other awards) attached. Even as I was writing the novelization, filming was underway in Whistler, BC. So I got to work stripping the script’s formatting and putting it in a format I could use. I had the dialogue I needed...so I began writing the story around it. I finished in four grueling days. I sent it in, the editor was delighted with it...and then the revised script appeared. Version 11 or 21 or something. I’d worked off Version 4. There were a ton of changes. A complete rewrite. So another four to five grueling days, but this time I didn’t go by the script as closely. Some wonderful scenes had been removed, and I didn’t want to take them out of the book. The ms went back, and my editor approved, the Kinkades approved, Lionsgate approved...and all was right with my world.
Until my editor let me know the title of the movie had changed...and the book cover had to be redone. So sad because the original cover was lovely. Then the book was being released...the week the movie went back to its original title.
Are we having fun yet?
Fast forward to August 2015, and the same editor asked if I’d like to do a novelization for a young adult horror movie. I’ve never published YA, but I love it, and I’ve never read much horror, but I said yes...and then found out I had 10 days to do it. Much shorter book this time, so that shouldn’t be a problem except that I’d be working off the almost edited movie. For the next few days, after watching the movie through once, I listened to a few lines of dialogue and then typed and then listened to make sure I’d gotten them right before adding story content. I can do that movie by memory! The movie came out in September, and reviews were nice.
The book is coming out on July 26, and the reviews are nice, too. Kirkus said: “Adapting the book from the screenplay for the 2015 film R.L. Stine's Monsterville: The Cabinet of Souls, Ferguson keeps the creep factor high...” Yes, you read that right. The movie came out in September 2015, and the novelization is coming out July 2016.
Are we having fun yet?
Actually I am. I’ve enjoyed seeing how scriptwriters work, how actors work and how directors pull it together. As an author, I have to fill all those roles, and I’ve learned a lot. Would I do another novelization if asked?
You betcha!


  1. Wow Jo Ann...what fabulous opportunities! I'm so happy they came your way. This post blows my mind...the things we learn about writing and the business on this blog amaze me.

  2. Sounds like a lot of work and stress, but I'm glad you've enjoyed the challenge. Most people don't have a clue what it takes to write and produce!

  3. I loved this. It's the first thing I've ever read about that. I've love to try that sometime, but those time lines are killers, aren't they?

  4. How fun! It's one of those dreams come true, spiced with some snags. Congratulations!

  5. Your experience duplicates what I've heard from others. You're simply amazing, Jo.

  6. Wow, what fun! I'm impressed with your willing to try something new and going for it! Great post, Jo Ann!

  7. Clearly you are amazing, Jo Ann. Thanks for sharing yourexperience.

  8. This was so interesting, Jo Ann! What a great (though grueling) experience. Why in the heck do they make you rush so?

    1. The rush is because it appears the novelization isn't a high priority when they need to shoot and edit the film as well as promote it. Just makes me happy that I'm in the crazy business of publishing instead of the crazy business of filmmaking

  9. I had trouble posting the other day and then forgot to come back. We're in the backwoods lol. Your career is simply amazing! I don't think I could keep up with everything you've done and are doing. Congrats on an amazing career!


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