I keep delaying this blog in case I’ve heard something about the release date for the film of ‘Tulip Fever’. Well, I still haven’t. Hopefully it will be sometime this spring, which I can’t help noticing is almost upon us if those daffodils are anything to go by. But then it has been a weird winter all round.
‘Something To Hide’ is coming out in paperback in June; meanwhile I’ve been adapting it as a movie for BBC Films. It spans continents – China, Africa, the USA and the UK – but knowing the ingenuity of film-makers that won’t be a problem. After all, a scene set in Beijing could just be a skyscraper and a lot of smog. It’s been a pleasure to adapt because it has two stonking parts for women of a certain age – as we know, there are not a lot of those around. Parts, not women. And both these women have a huge secret; there’s nothing an actor likes more than to not say what they mean – the mouth says one thing and the eyes another.
I’ve also been adapting ‘In the Dark’, my novel set in a shabby boarding house in Southwark during the First World War. I could never write about what happened in the trenches; like the Holocaust, it seems simply indescribable – by me, anyway. But I was interested in what was happening on the Home Front. My grandmother was born in 1890 and remembered it well; her first husband in fact was killed in action – as was her brother, and eleven cousins. So though those years have now slipped out of memory and into history I still remember her words so vividly I had to write a story that drew on her experiences. It’s grimy and sooty and very filmic; I can picture those dank alleyways with a glint of the river beyond, and the tenements hung with washing, and singing heard in the pubs, and the urgency of illicit sex when one might be blown to smithereens the next day.
The other adaptation I’ve done is ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, which I’ve been writing for ITV. After months of struggle – I simply couldn’t nail it – suddenly it became the most enormous fun and fell into place. It’s strange how that happens, and thank God that sometimes it does. Often one simply needs a break. William Trevor used to put a short story into a drawer for months, then take it out and start work on it all over again.
Otherwise I’m appearing at the Aldeburgh Literary Festival on March 6, and various venues from Leominster to Warsaw in the next few months, will keep you posted. Meanwhile do email me if you fancy on firstname.lastname@example.org