Thursday, November 14, 2019

Sarah Deming's "Gravity"

Sarah Deming began boxing after graduating from Brown University and was the 2001 New York City Golden Gloves and Empire State Games featherweight champion. She has covered hundreds of amateur and professional fights from ringside, including the Rio Olympics and the 2012 Women’s World Championships in China. She covered the London Olympics as part of the Emmy-winning NBC team and, as an HBO Boxing Insider, covered the first women’s bout broadcast on HBO Championship Boxing. She coaches and tutors youth boxers at NYC Cops and Kids, a free community gym in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Here Deming dreamcasts an adaptation of her YA novel Gravity, which tells the story of a female boxer’s battles on the road to the Rio Games:
I wrote Gravity like it was a movie. It moves around a lot: Brooklyn to Spokane to China to Rio. It has a large cast of diverse characters that I hoped would offer juicy opportunities for actors of color.

My husband, who is a crime fiction buff, tells me that Dashiell Hammett tried to see his novel The Maltese Falcon like it was a movie and write that way. That was inspiring to me.

I've always found screenwriting classes/manuals -- stuff like Story and Save the Cat -- to be far more helpful and practical than fiction writing guides. I think about things like act breaks, subtext, the picture I'm painting on stage. I want every important character to be charismatic and to undergo some kind of change or development throughout the arc of the story.

My book is YA, so the main characters are young and offer the opportunity for fresh new faces. I can see some of the real boxers I know playing the roles they inspired. Chris Colbert, who inspired the male lead D-Minus, is already the star of a Netflix documentary called Counterpunch. Two-time Olympic champion Claressa Shields inspired the character of Sacred Jones, and she would light up the screen. Olympic hopeful and runway model Alexis Chiaparro would be great for Lefty.

The only character I strongly identify with an actor is Carmen Cruz, the beautiful Colombian sportswriter, whom I picture as Rosie Perez. I've met Rosie because she's a fight fan and a wonderful supporter of the New York boxing scene. I feel like she'd connect with Carmen's toughness and vulnerability and with her deep emotional connection to the sport.

There's a character called Fatso who is described as looking like Biggie Smalls "only fatter and more athletic." Fatso was also inspired by Forest Whitaker's character in Ghost Dog, but Whitaker would have to gain a lot of weight to play him!
Visit Sarah Deming's website.

--Marshal Zeringue