Ketchup Clouds was published in the UK by Indigo in December, and I'm very excited to have a guest post from the lovely Annabel Pitcher. Go here for more information about the book and big thanks to Annabel for this post!
Ketchup Clouds – My Dream Castby Annabel PitcherOne of the most common questions I get asked during school visits is, ‘Will your book be made into a film?’ The answer is always, ‘Maybe.’ When you’ve written a book for young adults, there is inevitably a bit of interest from the film world. It’s par for the course. Just think how many teen novels have been made into movies. If film directors get it right, the result can be a spectacular box-office smash complete with accompanying merchandise and sequels stretching out until the end of time. So, film producers see pound signs when a young adult novel hits the shelves, and it’s very common for authors to have people sniffing round their new books because they’re scared of missing out on the next big thing. However, that does not mean a new novel is going to be snapped up by a Hollywood hot-shot and brought to the big screen any time soon. Turning a book into a film is a long and difficult process that can take years of negotiation, planning and false starts.
Another, more interesting question that I sometimes get asked is, ‘Do you WANT your books to be made into films?’ And, to be honest, I am not so sure. On the one hand, it would be thrilling to see Zoe’s secret romance in Ketchup Clouds played out in cinemas across the land, but on the other, it would be terrifying to give up ownership of my character and her story. I mean, how many times have you excitedly sat down to watch a film of a book you’ve loved, only to be utterly disappointed by what you see? It happened every single time for me with Harry Potter. Don’t get me wrong, some of the films were great, but they just weren’t as great as the pictures I conjured up when reading the books. Hogwarts always seemed a little stark in comparison to the warm, cosy castle inside my head, and Daniel Radcliffe was just a tad too geeky for the hero that reigned supreme in my imagination. As an author, you have very little control over the film once you’ve sold the rights, so how would you feel if a director wanted to completely change the story, or cast someone inappropriate in the lead role? It would be very difficult indeed.
That is why I always love answering the question, ‘Who would your dream cast be for one of your books?’ For a few minutes as I Google-search tens of teen actors to find the perfect Zoe, Aaron and Max, I can pretend that I am the one in control. Of course, if Ketchup Clouds was ever to be made into a real film, the casting director would hopefully find some previously undiscovered, but superbly talented, British teenagers to play the roles so that the characters felt fresh and new. However, for the purpose of this exercise, I have named well-known actors who have the right sort of look or feel for the principle players in Ketchup Clouds.
So here goes...
For my main girl, I’ve chosen Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, My Sister’s Keeper, Rango). She’s about the right age (sixteen or so) and has the right sort of look – attractive in an understated sort of way. She’s also a little quirky, which Zoe definitely has to be. I love the fact that she looks quite innocent in this picture, but behind that cute smile is a hint of defiance. As Zoe gets caught up in a love triangle and makes a fair few mistakes in the novel, I’d want an actress who could capture her rebellious streak while still maintaining audience sympathy.
For Zoe’s crazy little sister, I can think of no-one better than a young Ramona Marquez (Karen from Outnumbered). Funny, straight-talking, bright and mischievous, Ramona would perfectly capture the humour that Dot brings to the novel.
This one was more tricky to cast. Older but quieter than Dot, Soph is jealous of the attention her little sister receives. She would have to be played by a subtle and sensitive actress, someone like a young Chloe Moretz (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Hugo).
I spent a ridiculous amount of time searching the web to find the perfect Aaron, the boy who captures Zoe’s heart with his cerebral charms. Aaron is charismatic, witty, adventurous and arty, with an air of the rebellious about him. The devil-may-care attitude of Tyger Drew-Honey (Jake in Outnumbered) would be fantastic, though of course he’d have to dye his hair blonde!
This one was easier to choose. Max is younger but physically stronger than Aaron, all brawn to Aaron’s brains, and attracts Zoe with his boyish good looks, popularity and sporting ability. I would therefore cast someone who looks as if they’re ‘one of the lads’. Charlie Rowe was an easy pick (Billy Costa from The Golden Compass, but all grown up – check him on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxaq6LwF7ZY).
Zoe’s dad is an intellectual guy who is under-the-thumb of his more formidable wife. He’s not particularly masculine and has a soft edge, so someone like the goofy David Thewlis would be great (Lupin in Harry Potter).
Zoe’s mum needs to be a strong woman with a slightly manic edge. She is uptight and bossy, but beneath that hard exterior there is something quite vulnerable about her. I think Fiona Shaw (Mrs Dursley in Harry Potter) would play this complex role to perfection.