Monday, September 8, 2014

Holly Schindler's "Feral"

Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A Blue So Dark (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as Playing Hurt (both YAs).

Her debut MG, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud. Kirkus Reviews called The Junction “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.”

FeralFeral is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller. Publishers Weekly gave Feral a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A Blue So Dark… This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking… This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Here Schindler shares some ideas for a big screen adaptation of Feral:
Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m an enormous vintage movie buff. Can’t get enough of it. Love anything black and white. Also a big fan of Hitchcock (I think Rear Window might actually be my favorite).

My love of vintage movies influenced the writing of Feral, which falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller. The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain, as she attempts to restart her life following a brutal gang beating).

Like vintage psychological thrillers, Feral does borrow from other genres: mystery, horror, even paranormal, but the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action. Essentially, every aspect of Feral is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that includes the wintry Ozarks setting. The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and here is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state). The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley. Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche.

Ultimately, Feral is a book about recovering from violence—that’s an inner process, a terrifying process. The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail.

Because of the vintage-movie influence, I’d shoot it exactly like a movie made fifty years ago—black and white, full of shadows. (Actually, the black and white filming would emphasize the stark coldness of certain scenes—especially those that take place in snow-filled woods, those white mounds contrasting with dark, bare tree trunks…) The stars I’d chose would be lookalike throwbacks to yesterday’s stars. Think Tony Perkins, think Troy Donahue, think a really young Janet Leigh. Think Natalie Wood for Serena. And we need to make a movie poster that looks like The Birds, only with plenty of ragged-looking feral cats…

I would absolutely relish seeing Feral come to life on the screen, looking like those vintage psychological thrillers I’ve long loved.
Visit Holly Schindler's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue