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More of Interview with T.H.E. Hill
8) Have you always had a desire to write?
Answer: Just wanting to write is not enough. F. Scott Fitzgerald put it best, when he said: "You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say."
Writing wasn't what I wanted to do when I left high school. It sort of grew on me. Writing fiction is just the latest reinvention of myself. I had several previous professions, and they all required the ability to write coherently.
I began writing when I was in the Army, and I've written ever since. It all started when somebody sat me down in front of a stack of files, said "read all this stuff, and then write me a report about it." They apparently liked what I wrote, because they kept putting more files in front of me to write about. So I wrote more and more and more reports, and discovered that it was addictive. It was a gradual process. I've been writing constantly since I was about 20, which is longer ago than I care to think about some days. During my professional career, the clarity of your prose and the correctness of your analysis were the gauges by which a writer's product was judged.
I would ask those who look askance at novelists with this kind of writing background to consider that writing reports for the Army is a lot like journalism. Hemingway was a journalist, who started out writing for his high school newspaper, became a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star, later was a correspondent for the Toronto Star, then wrote dispatches from the Spanish Civil War, and covered World War II. Mark Twain worked as a journalist for twenty years before he wrote his first novel. Shelley Fisher Fishkin's From Fact to Fiction: Journalism & Imaginative Writing in America (1985) provides an exhaustive account of the impact that journalism has had on American literature.
These days I write what I want instead of what someone has asked me to write about. I paid my dues for years to gain this privilege, and along the way, I built up a stock of things to say that had not been said before. An artist friend of mine once said that the purpose of art is to make it possible for someone to see something that they could not see without your help. That's the goal of my writing.
9) The Day Before the Berlin Wall would make a very intense movie. Are there any plans for it to be made into one?
Answer: I certainly agree with you that it would make a very intense movie, and hope that there is someone in Hollywood who will agree with us both. There have been no direct inquiries about the movie rights, but I have had to field questions about how the internal dialog that makes up a large part of the book could be presented on the screen. Film is a visual medium and translating the Greek Chorus of voices in the main character's head to a visual presentation would be crucial to any successful movie treatment. The key scene will be a visualization of the detachment of each of the members of the Greek Chorus from the main character's body. The visual effects used to create the ghosts in such movies as Topper and Topper Returns are the type of thing I would suggest. An establishing shot that allows the viewer to see each member of the Greek Chorus detach himself from Marc Logan's body would make it possible to have the members of the Greek Chorus played by different actors, which would accent the individual traits that each of them has. Marking the members of the Greek Chorus visually as is done with the ghost in Blithe Spirit and ensuring that none of the real people interact with them à la Sixth Sense will remind the audience that the members of the Greek Chorus are in fact not flesh and blood. This could be highlighted with comical impact by having one of the real people walk through one or more of the members of the Greek Chorus. This is a visual effect that was very successfully used in Ghost Town. As to the overall visual feel of the screen treatment, I see The Day Before the Berlin Wall as a film noir in the style of The Third Man or The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
I'm not sure, however, how they could deal with the alternate endings of the book when the movie was shown in a theater. On a DVD, there is no problem in offering the audience a choice of two endings. In a theater, however, there is generally no interaction with the audience. They would have to wire the theater with buttons so that the audience could vote on which ending to see, the way you got to vote for which ending to see on the "Horizons" attraction at EPCOT in Disney World. The "clicker" technology that they are introducing into classrooms on my university campus might be the solution for that.
For those of you who would like to purchase a copy of The Day Before the Berlin Wall, below I have provided a link to Amazon.
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