13th Warrior revisited
29 July 2004
My producer, director and all-round film guru friend Trevor tells me that The 13th Warrior is one of those v rare examples of a movie being taken away from the director and spoiled by the original novelist - viz by Michael Crichton, who changed the title, changed the story, changed the score. This makes me much happier; I have never rated Crichton (who in any case is not really a novelist at all, he's just a filmwriter whose first drafts come out in prose form: one of those writers who faxes the new book to Hollywood chapter by chapter. Nil respect. Books matter on their own account, or else they don't matter at all), and now I can assume that the original director (John McTiernan, I'm told) got the story right, and all that preparatory stuff was there for its clear purpose, until Crichton screwed around with it.
It does make me happier, but not exactly happy. I think I'm in post-book slump here, restless and a little adrift. My back's been hurting since Cornwall, on and off, and I can't settle. I'm supposed to be writing a story for the Durham LitFest website, and I do have a lovely net-dependent structure for it, something you simply couldn't do on paper; but thatís the trouble, it's all structure, and I really don't do structure. I do narrative, which is all about movement and direction and control; structure is static, and readers move around and within it undirected, and I don't know how to tell a story under those conditions. So I keep running away, to the cricket or the shops or the pub.
Coming home from town this afternoon, I was struck with a rather lovely idea for a novella: a fantasy, probably set in the same Ottoman/Istanbul-type city that I'm working with anyway for the current novels, probably indeed in that little interstice between books one and two, so now would be quite an obvious time to write it. I'm trying to resist, but it is hard.
© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.