SA author pulls US producer’s heartstrings
TWO novels by South African author Gareth Crocker are set to become Hollywood movies.
Gillian Gorfil, a producer of the Oscar-nominated blockbuster Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has optioned Crocker’s 2011 debut novel Finding Jack and his latest thriller, Never Let Go.
Never Let Go tells the story of a US author whose daughter dies in a botched kidnapping. He’s on the verge of taking his own life when a stranger delivers an envelope to his home. Inside it is a single white card with six words that offer the impossible: “I can bring your daughter back.”
Finding Jack tells the story of abandoned US war dogs.
While visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC several years ago, Crocker saw a Vietnam veteran in full military gear place a dog harness against the foot of the wall. When he asked the man about it, the veteran explained he had been a dog handler in the war and his dog had saved his life – and the lives of all the men in his platoon – on three occasions.
He said not a week went by without his thinking of his loyal friend and wondering what happened to him. He explained that after the war, the government had left these heroic dogs behind in Vietnam, declaring them “surplus military equipment” and too expensive to transport back to the US.
Said Crocker: “So, despite estimates that about 4 000 highly trained combat, tracker and scout dogs saved the lives of about 10 000 American soldiers, few made it home. Although a token number were handed over to the South Vietnamese, most were left to fates unknown.”
Inspired by the story of the Vietnam War dogs, Crocker wrote Finding Jack as a tribute to those that did not make it home.
“To have someone of Gillian’s calibre interested in my work is flattering and tremendously exciting. Having now spent some time with her, it’s easy to understand why she’s such a successful producer,” said Crocker.
Gorfil will be meeting studio executives and agents in the coming weeks about Never Let Go and Finding Jack.
She said: “I am an avid animal lover, so when a friend suggested that I read Finding Jack and told me briefly what it was about, I downloaded it on my Kindle right away. The next thing that I did was to cancel my plans and switch off my phone.
“I read the book in one sitting and when I put it down, I e-mailed Gareth Crocker immediately to enquire about the film rights. Anyone who has ever owned a dog needs to read this book and see the movie when it’s made. It is a moving and important story about courage, survival, loyalty, friendship and healing.”
Gorfil flew to Joburg to meet Gareth to outline her plans for developing Finding Jack into a movie.
“When he told me why he had written the book, I was more determined than ever to make this happen. At the meeting, Gareth gave me a copy of his latest novel, Never Let Go. I started to read it on the plane and had a similar reaction to my Finding Jack experience.
“I read it in two days. Gareth is good at finding a subject that tugs at the heartstrings, an essential ingredient for any film. Anyone who has a child, or is planning to have a child, will be pulled along with this story.”
WORDSMITH: Gareth Crocker
MOVED: Producer Gillian Gorfil