Your work . . . starring?

Normally, here at Murderati, we don’t have guest posts. However, this guest is an alum  — though you’ll have to guess who he or she might be — and I’m delighted to see this author’s work on our pages again. ‘Nuf said.


by E.J. Copperman

Let’s get it out of the way up top and then move on: I have a new book coming tomorrow . . . that’s Feb. 7. It’s called OLD HAUNTS. I think it’s good, others have agreed, and I’d appreciate it if you’d give it a look.

Okay. now we can get down to business.

The film version of Janet Evanovich’s ONE FOR THE MONEY was released recently, setting off the traditional brouhaha among mystery and crime fiction fans about who was cast, who SHOULD have been cast, and why Evanovich would ever have allowed such a thing as (fill in your own personal outrage) to happen.

At roughly the same moment, filming was continuing on ONE SHOT, the first adaptation of a Lee Child novel featuring the mega-popular character Jack Reacher. The film is due into theaters on February 8, 2013 (which, I might note, is exactly one year and one day after the release of a certain book that means a lot to me, but that’s beside the point.) And once again, there has been apoplexy (Paramount has had the audacity to cast an actor in the role who is–brace yourself–short). The fact that the actor is also the producer is apparently irrelevant to the height-ists among us. 

Personally, I find it hilarious that people think the author has even 1% of authority over who is cast in, writes, produces, directs, or provides craft services on a film made from one of his/her books. Should a producer show interest in one of my novels–and if you’re a producer, have your people call my people (hang on: I AM my people)–I will be tickled with the idea and expect that they’ll send me, perhaps, an autographed poster a couple of weeks after the movie makes its debut on DVD and Blu-Ray. 

The fact is, an author has one choice, and only one, when a producer offers money to option/buy the rights to a book: To take the money, or not. That’s it. If you take the money, you’ve SOLD the rights. That means someone else owns them. And they can do with your work as they please. 

Look at it this way: You decide to sell your car. You put an ad on Craigslist, and someone responds. You negotiate a price that you and the buyer can agree upon. So they give you a check, and you give them the title, and the transaction is done.

The next day, the new owner drives by your house. He has had the car painted orange with pink polka dots, and removed your $2000 sound systems in favor of two tin cans and a string. 

You have no recourse. You sold it. That’s it. 

So if you have trouble with Debbie Reynolds playing Granda Masur or Tom Cruise standing on a box to be Reacher, you can choose to read the books and avoid the movie. Or you can blame the producer, the director, the studio or the casting director.

But don’t get mad at the author. He or she is writing a new book for you right now. 


E.J. Copperman is the author of the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series, in which a divorced mom moves to her Jersey Shore hometown to open a guesthouse and finds two ghosts there. So far, the titles have included NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED, AN UNINVITED GHOST and now OLD HAUNTS. E.J.’s last name is not “Cooperman.” In case anyone asks.

11 thoughts on “Your work . . . starring?

  1. Zoë Sharp

    Welcome EJ – and can I say I loved the way you chose the component parts of your pseudonym.

    I was at the launch for Lee Child's last book, THE AFFAIR in Manchester, and some of the audience were getting quite heated about the whole Tom Cruise/Jack Reacher debate. Lee handled it extremely well (as you would expect). I also read a recent interview with Tom Cruise, and he handled the question pretty smartly, too, although with just a hint of teflon shoulders …

    The sold car analogy is a good one. I shall steal that one and use it when next questioned about the option on my own series …

  2. Allison Davis

    I have had many a beer with Lee Childs while we laughed about Tom Cruise as Reacher, all very philosophical. Cruise has held the rights for some time apparently and it seemed to take forever for him to get to it. It's inevitable that it gets screwed up because there are so many variables. I never saw Selleck as Jesse Stone, but then I don't see anyone but Raymond Burr playing Perry Mason. There's the big debate about who is the better Lisbeth Salander…

    I like the way Kathy Reich dealt with her books become "Bones" on TV — they changed the protogonist pretty radically, but she still remained a consultant on the show and was delighted that they bought the scripts and liked the story (after all, the main character got to be a lot younger).

    It's story telling, it's media. We do our best. (Oh, and we know who you are….and pleased to see you included the dog.) Nice to have you back.

  3. E.J. Copperman

    Of course Lee would handle it well; he handles everything well, and he's right–the physical resemblance of the actor to the character isn't as important as the actor getting the essence of the character right. If anyone's ever crazy enough to adapt my series, I'll be happy to provide input, but will assume it won't be requested. And if they hire someone to play my character, I'll be thrilled with their choice. Whomever it turns out to be.

  4. KDJames

    Speak for yourself, Allison. Geez. I had NO IDEA who EJC is, but since I didn't recognize the voice I figured it had to be someone who posted here before I became a regular pest– er, reader/commenter. Luckily, google knows everything about everyone, forever. And I discovered I do indeed know who EJC is, just not by that name and in a different forum.

    EJ, I'm among the fans who have been (silently) skeptical about Cruise playing Reacher. But I changed my mind when I saw outtakes of the film Cruise did recently where he was hanging off the side of a building that was tall enough you could reach out and touch five or six planets. A guy who can do that? Probably he can pull off just about anything. I'm looking forward to the movie.

    And I have to say, I love it how you all keeping talking about Lee Child as if he's just some guy you could sit down and have a beer with. That's so cute.

  5. Pari Noskin

    Lee bought me a fine old scotch once . . . I felt quite honored. Don't know if he'd remember me now.

    I do want to see One for the Money; I've heard it's a fun romp. Not so sure about Tom Cruise. He's just not one of my favorites, though I love it when Jimmy Fallon does him.

  6. KDJames

    It's okay, Pari, I now how draining conferences can be. You get home and it's all a blur of half-remembered conversations and swollen feet. And scotch. Apparently. *pats Pari reassuringly on the head* But I believe you. All of you. Really.

    I'd pat Allison on the head too, but she's one hell of a lot tougher than I am. Also, taller.

  7. allison davis

    When Lee came to teach at Book Passage or to read, he would go out for a drink with all of us. One year when he was reading some of the manuscripts for the Mystery Writers' Conference, he read Cornelia Read's — told her to get the book finished, gave her a blurb and then took her on the road with him (no, no, wasn't hanky panky, he has a nice wife) and helped promote her first book. He is a good guy. Really generous and helpful. If you were there, you could have had a beer with him too, KD.

  8. Lynn in Texas

    Hey, there's a….nother new book in the E.J. Copperman series to add to my TBR tower! 😉
    Looking forward to reading it!

    I haven't met Lee Childs yet,so I have nothing first-hand to contribute… but I'm also one of the doubtful when it comes to Tom Cruise convincingly playing his Jack Reacher..but we shall see. I didn't think TC would make a good vampire Lestat at first, (thought Christopher Walken or Willem Dafoe would be great in the role) but, um, I was proved wrong.

    Haven't seen "One for the Money" and as a former HUGE Evanovich fan, I'm afraid to watch it, for fear of vast disappointment. Mostly with movies made after I've read the book, I prefer the images melded in my head by the writer's descriptions and my own imagination. That's just me.

    Thanks for guest blogging, E.J.

  9. KDJames

    Oh, I wasn't questioning the fact that Lee Child is a very nice guy. Everyone knows that. But all the times I've heard someone mention oh-so-casually that they've met him, no one ever tells about how they were so nervous they threw up in his lap or how they fainted dead away and spilled their entire drink on him or how they stood there unable to make a sound while their mouth slowly opened and closed like a giant goldfish. Because THAT I'd believe.

    In fact, if I ever do meet him, I'm never going to be able to tell anyone about it because I'm sure I will manage to humiliate myself by doing all of the above, all at the same time. Good thing I'm such an introvert and only rarely venture out into the real world. Helps me maintain the illusion of possessing a wee scrap of dignity.

  10. E.J. Copperman

    Didn't mean to turn this into a Lee Child referendum. I know him only a little bit, but he is a ridiculously nice man, and believe me, I can prove it. I'll say no more.

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