Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Time Zone High

You once had the world’s best disappearing literary agent. She was funny and smart and came up with lots of great ideas for books. You would sit on the phone with her for hours and laugh. There was just one problem. Sometimes she would vanish. Months would go by and she wouldn’t answer phone calls, e-mails, letters, etc. You would speak to the other writers she represented and they wouldn’t have a clue where she was or what she was doing.

Gradually her others writers found more reliable agents, until the day came when you were the only one left. You couldn’t bear to leave her. It was during this time that you produced so many books – 36 in one two year period; mostly novelizations of movies -- that for her it was like representing a bunch of writers anyway.

But finally the day came when you, too, had to say good-bye. She still sends you a check now and then, and when she does you always write back to thank her and ask how she and her family are. She never replies.

During your heyday together, she once suggested you write a book with the title Girl Gives Birth to Own Prom Date. You loved the title so much that you did it. You had recently written a book called How I Changed My Life☺and you liked the characters and wanted to spend more time with them, so you brought many of them back to life for this book*.

Girl Gives Birth to Own Prom Date ☻ was published in hardcover and the publisher’s sales department soon began to report that many people thought the title was gross, disgusting, and inappropriate. Unfortunately, around that time there was a well-publicized incident in which a young woman actually did give birth in a school bathroom during her prom.

Your publisher asked you to come up with a new title for the paperback, and you chose How I Created My Perfect Prom Date. The paperback had just come out when Fox bought the movie rights. Fourteen months later the movie, Drive Me Crazy (a generic movie title if ever there was one), was released.**

Your publisher immediately published a movie tie-in book with the same title. Hence, in the space of less than four years, the book had three different titles - Girl Gives Birth to Own Prom Date, How I Created My Perfect Prom Date, and Drive Me Crazy.

*Some of the characters would show up for a third time in How I Spent My Last Night on Earth. Together, you call all three “How I…” novels the Time Zone High trilogy.

☺ The character of Jeff Branco in this book is based on your childhood friend Phillip. While Phillip never sold pizza out of the boys room at school, he did indeed scale a 15-foot-chain link fence topped with barbed wire in an attempt to break into a woman’s correctional facility on Long Island.

☻The idea for Wrong Way Ray came from the experience of an editor from the Middletown Times Herald-Record, who celebrated a promotion to a higher editorial position by getting so drunk that he drove nearly fifteen miles in the wrong direction on the New York Thruway before police were able to stop him.

** The premiere party for the movie was one of the first times you ever saw your daughter, then 15, dress up and wear makeup. The transformation from ponytail and sweat pants to blow-dried hair, short skirt, and spaghetti strap top was somewhat unsettling. And you weren’t the only one who noticed. Adrian Grenier (think Entourage***), the male lead in the movie, went so far as to suggest that she accompany him to “the party after the party” (wink, wink). She politely declined, explaining that she had school (Uh, like 9th grade, dude!) the next day. I give Mr. Grenier the benefit of the doubt and believe he did not realize how young she was (My daughter is almost 6 feet tall, and, when wearing makeup… Well, you know).

*** In the movie, Mr. Grenier played the role of Chase Hammond. In Entourage his character’s name is Vincent Chase. Coincidence?

Mr. Bill says, “This blog drives ME crazy!”

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