Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jim DeFelice's "Leopards Kill"

Jim DeFelice is the author of many military thrillers and has frequently collaborated with New York Times bestselling authors Stephen Coonts, Larry Bond, and Richard Marcinko. DeFelice’s solo novels include Threat Level Black, Coyote Bird, War Breaker, and My Brother's Keeper.

Here he shares an idea about which action-movie star might be a good lead for adaptations of a few of his novels, including Leopards Kill:
There’s one at every book signing – the reader who comes up and says, “You don’t look anything like your book.”

If I’m in a certain kind of mood – in other words, if the person is buying – I smile and ask, “What should I look like?”

The answer is inevitably an actor. The exact one tends to vary somewhat depending on age, but the most common by far is Bruce Willis.

What readers really mean – I think – is that they see Bruce Willis in the role of the book’s lead character. This is great, though it would be even better if Bruce Willis saw himself as the book’s lead character.

And that of the movie to follow.

Which makes sense – he stars in thrillers and action movies, I write thrillers and action books...

Now the truth is that I don’t actually model my characters after anyone when I’m writing them, not even me. (Honest.) But if Bruce Willis is the star of the movie they make of your book, all sorts of good things happen. So when they ask if I had “Bruce” in mind, I always agree. Who knows? They’re calling him by his first name; maybe they’re a friend of his.

Where it gets tricky is when the reader wants to know which Bruce Willis I had in mind: “He’s done so many movies... the Die Hard Bruce Willis? Or the True West Bruce Willis?”

More the former than the latter, but I’ll take what I can get.

What most people don’t know is that Bruce Willis did star in the movie version of a book I wrote – the novelization of The Sixth Sense. The only thing is, I wasn’t thinking of Bruce Willis when I wrote it. I had Anthony Hopkins in my head, and it was his voice I heard in every line. (Specifically, the Anthony Hopkins of The Edge, which I’d just seen twice before starting work on it. Don’t look for the book, by the way; as far as I know the only edition now in print is Japanese. The story about what happened is much longer than this blog, and has nothing to do with Bruce Willis.)

It’s possible that I’ve lost my chance with Bruce Willis, but I still try to make shots. Lately I’ve been working with a game company on a new video game. Recently one of the producers asked me who I saw as the lead character.

“Bruce Willis,” I said, without hesitating.

Of course, I just got the storyboards the other day, and I have to say, the character doesn’t look much like Bruce Willis – not even The First Deadly Sin Bruce Willis. I guess he wasn’t available.

I’m not ready to give up. One of my books, Leopards Kill, comes out in paperback this month. It’s an action adventure story, with a strong character, biblical themes, an epic landscape – a perfect Bruce Willis vehicle if ever there was one. I’ve been telling people that Bruce Willis would be perfect in it. Well, mostly I’ve been telling my agents that, in hopes that they’ll tell his agents that, but I’m happy to share.

The Bruce Willis of Tears of the Sun, by the way. If I have a choice.

I have learned a few things over the years about movie stars and book characters and fiction and fantasy.

After nominating Bruce Willis as the lead for the movie, most women readers ask me who I want to play the strong, smart, and sexy heroine.

I always smile and say, “My wife.”
Learn more about the author and his work at Jim DeFelice's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue