If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Favorite Book on the Big Screen

Monument Rocks in western Kansas.

By Julie Tollefson

Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of seeing one of my favorite novels, The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard, come to life on the big screen. The movie—screenplay by Jeff Robison and Casey Twenter, directed by Blake Robbins—played to two sold-out crowds at the Kansas City Film Fest and won the festival's "Best Narrative Feature Film" award.

The film richly portrays the secrets and lies swirling in rural Oklahoma after a convicted murderer’s release from prison causes the daughter of his victims to question whether he actually committed the crime. It’s dusty and full of suspense and captures the cracks radiating through a community when tragedy strikes a close knit and influential family.

Q&A after first screening of the film at the Kansas City 
Film Fest (Nancy Pickard, third from left).
In a Q&A session after the first Kansas City screening, Pickard spoke about her inspirations for the book, including her desire to explore the idea that children of murderers and children of the murdered have much in common. It’s a thought-provoking insight and, in my opinion, it’s the basis of one of the most poignant relationships in the movie, that between Jody Linder (daughter of the murder victims) and Collin Croyle (son of the man convicted of the murder).

The cast is excellent and includes Maika Monroe, Brad Carter, Justin Chatwin, Maggie Grace, Bonnie Bedelia, and Will Patton.

Mid- to late-1970s teenaged me (left) with my parents at Monument Rocks.
The movie is terrific, though it strays from Pickard's original story in one very important (to me) aspect. The film may be set in Oklahoma, but Pickard’s novel takes place in a fictionalized version of my beloved western Kansas, specifically at Monument Rocks (called Testament Rocks in the book). Monument Rocks, if you’re not familiar, are unusual buttes that rise above the Kansas prairie. They’re the eroded remnants of chalk formed in a massive inland sea millions of years ago, and they’re full of fossilized marine creatures. I have many fond memories of long summer afternoons scrambling over the chalk monoliths with my cousins.

Pickard’s novel portrays that little-traveled part of the state with a deep affection for its people and their way of life. Her story embodies two of the recurring themes that crop up in my own fiction and in my posts for Writers Who Kill: small towns and Kansas landscapes.

“The Scent of Rain and Lightning” is playing the film festival circuit now. Keep an eye out for it!

Scent of Rain and Lightning on Facebook

Nancy Pickard’s website, with complete film festival screening information

What are your favorite movies based on books?


Jim Jackson said...

Nancy is very lucky if the only major thing in her story that was changed was the location. I rarely like the movie as well or better than a book I’ve enjoyed because they are typically restrained to by length to cut out major plot or subplot points. I still recall with fondness watching Doctor Zhivago in 1965?, later reading the book with equal enjoyment, and even later seeing the movie again (a rarity for me) and still enjoying the movie a great deal.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

My favorite was Cannery Row with Nick Nolte and Debra Winger. The movie was actually a combination of Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, both of course by John Steinbeck. In middle/high school he was my "go to" writers. I read and love everything he ever wrote.

There are two other films that I know were made of two of my favorite books--Snow Falling on Cedars (Guterson), which didn't have big named stars, and Sometimes A Great Notion (Kesey), which I'm was directed by Paul Newman. The later I have yet to watch, but I'm determined I'll find a copy to watch.

Julie Tollefson said...

Jim - There are other differences between the book and movie, of course, but in general, the screenwriters did a really great job of staying true to Nancy's story. I confess I was nervous going in to see it because so many times the movie version of a book disappoints me. So happy to report that this one did not.

Margaret Turkevich said...

I'm looking forward to the new Murder on the Orient Express movie.

Julie Tollefson said...

Elaine - Sometimes a Great Notion is one of my husband's favorites! He grew up logging with his grandfather and cousins in Oregon every summer and had a special connection to the book (which he said is richer than the movie), but he loves the movie (mostly for Paul Newman and Henry Fonda). I bought a copy of the movie for him a few years ago.

Julie Tollefson said...

Oooh, Margaret, when does that come out? I'm very bad about keeping up with the latest movies, I'm afraid.

Gloria Alden said...

Margaret, I loved the book, and would like to see the movie. Although, I usually find fault with most movies made on books I loved, I don't remember being unhappy with the movie made on Laura Hillenbrand's book, Unbroken.

Warren Bull said...

Great news. Nancy Pickard is a wonderful author. She has helped me and countless others.

Kait said...

I loved this book! Can't wait to see the movie. The transition from book to screen seems to be a difficult one.now that my husband is writing screenplays I understand why. It seems a screenplay is limited to 120 pages and not a page more - less preferred from what he says. That has to make for some difficult decisions, and for the first time, I understood why the author is rarely the screenwriter. Gone with the Wind was my favorite. Probably because so much of the book was included in the movie.

Julie Tollefson said...

Warren - I agree. Nancy was one of the first to welcome me to the mystery writing community when I started exploring the possibility of writing fiction. She's been a terrific advocate since. I'm so happy for her.

Julie Tollefson said...

Kait - How interesting that your husband is writing screenplays! It would indeed be hard to make the decisions about what to leave in, what to take out, and how to tell the most compelling story in 120 pages.

KM Rockwood said...

I find that if I read the book first, that's the way it "should be" in my mind, and I chafe at the changes in the movie. Likewise, if I see the movie first, I often am uncomfortable with "changes" in the book.

What I try to do is to approach each as a separate entity.

In my opinion, the entire Harry Potter series is an example of books successfully made into movies.

What a thrill it must be to see your characters come alive on the screen!

Julie Tollefson said...

KM - I love the Harry Potter movies as much as the books. I've read the books more than once, and watched each of the movies ... a lot. Great storytelling.