Just this week, we watched “Saving Mr. Banks”. Very interesting film. Mr. Cochrane, being a devoted father of three girls, was moved to tears by the family flashbacks, but it’s the scenes with P L Travers at the Disney studios which I can’t get out of my mind. What would I have done in her position, being asked to give permission for changes to be made with her story which she simply didn’t want to be made?
Now, I’m a pragmatic soul. “What cover do you want, Charlie?” “One that sells, please.” Yet sometimes pragmatism had to give way to integrity. What if somebody came along and wanted to turn the Cambridge Fellows books into a film or TV series? “Great,” I’d say. “Bring it on.” But what if they wanted to make unacceptable changes? For example, to set it in a Cambridge as false as the London of the Mary Poppins film? (No, Mr. Disney, that was not a British robin feathering its nest.) What if they’d wanted to change the tone of the stories? To introduce some heterosexual love stories? To have – and this is worst of all – somebody play Jonty or Orlando who had the equivalent of Dick Van Dyke’s desperate cockney accent.
See? It’s an author’s nightmare. I guess we’ve all played the “casting” game, thinking about who we’d have playing our favourite characters in a TV adaptation: maybe we’ve used the images of those people when we’ve been filling in our cover art requests. But if this really did happen, we’d probably have very little say in much of the production stuff. Ultimately, the only sanction we’d have is not to sell the performance rights (I hope you’ve checked your contracts to ensure you haven’t signed them away), although if we were put under the sort of pressure that the Disney corporation seem to have exerted on P L Travers, we’d have to be damn strong to resist.
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice–like managing a rugby team–she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries, but she’s making an increasing number of forays into the modern day. She’s even been known to write about gay werewolves–albeit highly respectable ones.
She was named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name but her family still regard her writing with a fond indulgence, just as she prefers.
Happily married, with a house full of daughters, Charlie tries to juggle writing with the rest of a busy life. She loves reading, theatre, good food and watching sport. Her ideal day would be a morning walking along a beach, an afternoon spent watching rugby and a church service in the evening.