Typically we hear about books being turned into movies. Occasionally, it happens the other way; a movie gets “novelized.” My friend Denene Millner recently turned the screenplay for the movie “Sparkle” into a book, and I asked her to share with Writer Unboxed what that experience was like. Following is our Q&A:
How did the project come to you?
My brilliant agent, Victoria Sanders, conjured it up after several conversations with me about my love for Whitney Houston and the impact she had on my development into a young woman, and a few talks with the brother of the original “Sparkle” producer, Howard Rosenman. I’d been considering doing a book of personal essays about Whitney, and Victoria and I were working on that piece when she had those initial talks. After a conversation or two with Howard, and my revelation that the original “Sparkle” was/is one of my all-time favorite movies and Whitney is one of my all-time favorite voices, it came to pass that Howard thought I would make a fine writer for the project of turning his story and Mara Brock Akil’s screenplay into a novel. So it was a stroke of genius on Victoria’s part, a stroke of luck on my part. The stars definitely aligned on this one.
Had you ever done a project like this before?
I had the great fortune of doing the novelization of “Dreamgirls,” the 2006 film starring Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, whose performance won her an Academy Award. That, too, was serendipitous: the editor who wrangled the rights to the novelization was someone with whom I’d worked on a few other projects and when she was looking for a writer—someone who could turn out a solid, well-written story on a wicked two-week deadline—she turned to me. Like the “Sparkle” project, I was sent the screenplay, did research on the era, the original project and the characters, and then wrote the story. It really is an incredible process: I love taking stories and filling in the back-stories of the plots, the characters and those moments that you don’t necessarily see in the movie. It is an awesome collaborative process. [Read more…]