Now, where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about survival stories. At least, I was a few months ago, but things have run away from me where blogging is concerned. It seems like everything has been SO busy, but I’ve been thinking about The Child Thief recently, because after a lot of back and forth negotiating, I’ve finally signed the movie option agreement. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a film will be made – the film business is something of a mystery to me – but it means there is some intent. So there ‘might’ be a Child Thief movie.
The Child Thief is a survival story. It’s about a man and his sons hunting a child killer across the winter wilderness in 1930’s Ukraine, but it didn’t start off that way. The original idea came to me after reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
McCarthy’s setting is built with great skill, and the relationship between the two nameless characters is full of emotion. I was with the boy and the man every step of the way through the endless, soul destroying cold, and the awful, impenetrable dark. And McCarthy’s prose is some of the most beautiful I have ever read. I’ve also always loved the post-apocalypse thing, so was fascinated that McCarthy had used the setting in that way. Usually that kind of environment goes hand in hand with zombies or leather clad, gasoline-worshipping maniacs – which is awesome because I LOVE those things, but McCarthy’s post-apocalypse is more subdued. It’s a grey, impossible place full of very real horrors. And the man will go to great lengths to protect the boy. Ultimately, it’s a story about a father’s love for his son. Anyway, I got wrapped up in it and, after some time thought, ‘Yeah. Post-apocalypse. If McCarthy can do it, then why can’t I?
Well, because I’m not McCarthy, that’s why. And McCarthy had already done it with such brilliance.
My post-apocalypse felt silly and . . . not right. So I changed it. I found a setting that was just as bleak, and just as difficult. It was a time I hardly knew anything about; the year before the initiation of the man-made famine that starved millions of Ukrainians. As it turns out, whatever terrible things we can imagine, there’s a pretty strong chance that something far worse has already happened.