Welcome back for the second half of my interview with author, Jessica Blank. You've now written two YA [Young Adult] novels. Your first, Almost Home , is being made into a movie. That's a thrill. Tell us about it.
photo credit: aprilyvettethompson.com
We're very excited about the Almost Home film that's in development! The novel came out in 2007, and was optioned by Jon Bon Jovi's film production company, which hired Erik and me to adapt the screenplay. We have a director on board who we adore (details still under wraps for the moment) - we are currently working with him to polish the script, and our producers are hoping to shoot the movie in 2010.
Adapting Almost Home was a great lesson for us in screenplay structure, and also kind of a wrestling match with the material. The book is a novel-in-stories about a group of homeless teenagers in L.A. - each chapter is a short story, told from a different kid's point of view. One girl, Tracy, figures prominently in everyone's world, but because there are several narrators, that also means there are several protagonists. Part of the idea behind the structure of the book is that the reader gets to piece together the larger story through the eyes of several different characters, all of whom are somewhat unreliable narrators (they're kids, most of them are from abused backgrounds, some of them struggle with addiction, etc.).
In a conventionally structured movie, though, you need a single protagonist (or two, tops) on a single journey. So, for the screenplay, we re-focused the story around a central relationship - that of Tracy, the oldest and most hardened of the group - and Eeyore, a young girl (she's 12 in the book, 13 in the movie) who runs away at the very beginning of the novel and embarks on a friendship with Tracy that changes them both irrevocably. That relationship is strong in the novel, but the structure of the book doesn't focus solely on that friendship. The screenplay really became about the two girls, how they affect each other, and what will happen to Eeyore, who is in a lot of danger, unprotected on the streets. In reshaping the material, we got a lot of terrific feedback from our very smart producers, and later from our director (who is also a brilliant and incredibly accomplished screenwriter in his own right).