Tuesday, November 11, 2008

James Scott Bell's "Try Dying"

James Scott Bell is the author of Try Dying, Try Darkness, and the forthcoming Try Fear.

Here he develops some ideas for film adaptations of the novels:
My series featuring L.A. lawyer Ty Buchanan and the basketball playing nun, Sister Mary, has been described as "L.A. noir meets Nick and Nora at the intersection of Ellroy and Chandler." And that's fine with me, because I wanted to do contemporary suspense in a style that could have been published in 1947 (I think much of the genre these days pushes the darkness beyond "too far").

So it's no surprise that my favorite movie genre is film noir of the 40's and 50's. Especially when it takes place in Los Angeles.

In keeping with that, I'll tell you who I wish could have directed the movies made from my series--Billy Wilder. Think of the two quintessential L.A. noirs: Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard. That's the tone and feel I'm going for. A touch of wry humor, as with the narrations, respectively, of Fred MacMurray and William Holden. The undercurrents of money, sexual tension, and murder. The idea that the sun shines bright on the surfaces, but the night brings out the hidden and secret things.

The big question for me would be, black and white or color? I think the neon night is so L.A. that I'd opt for color, the kind that Michael Mann captured in Collateral (a recent, and superb, L.A. noir).

The films would, then, begin with Buchanan's narration, lifted right from the first lines of the books.

Try Dying:

On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the back yard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles.

Try Darkness:

The nun hit me in the mouth and said, "Get out of my house."

Try Fear (to be published in 2009):

The cops nabbed Santa Claus at the corner of Hollywood and Gower.
Learn more about the books and author at James Scott Bell's website.

The Page 69 Test: Try Dying.

The Page 69 Test: Try Darkness.

--Marshal Zeringue