They want to make my book into a movie? Heck, they might as well make it into a haiku, I thought when I first got the news.
I mean, I spent a long time writing, revising, and crafting as good of a book as I possibly could. And now they want to compress it to two hours of screen time?
But then I got a phone call from Patrick Dempsey, who had signed on to play the lead character, Denny Swift, and I thought, well, okay; I think this is going to work.
You see, my book is about a dog named Enzo who wants to be reincarnated as a man so he can race cars, and Patrick Dempsey–in addition to being a film actor and the star of a very popular TV drama–happens to be a race car driver himself.
Patrick has his own racing team, Dempsey Racing, and he races a Mazda RX-8 in the Grand-Am Rolex series of endurance races, at such famous tracks as Daytona, Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen. He’s even raced–and finished quite well–at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the most famous races in the history of motorsport.
Coincidentally, I owned an RX-8 for several years (I had to give it up when my third son was born: the RX-8 only has room for two passengers in the back seat, and my wife refused to let my oldest son ride in the trunk.). I raced a Mazda Miata for several years as well, and I have often said that everything I know about racing, I learned in a Mazda.
And then there was Patrick himself. A real sweet, genuinely nice guy, who said all the right things: We’ll make the movie true to the book, we’ll keep it Formula One and endurance racing and not make it about NASCAR, and, best of all, we won’t cast Scooby-Doo as Enzo the dog. (Nothing against Scooby-Doo, but Enzo is definitely not a Great Dane!)
It’s been a long process. A great screenwriter named Mike Rich, who wrote The Rookie a few years ago, has written a screenplay, and Universal Studios is very much behind the project. They hope to begin filming soon, and then it might just get made. (Things in Hollywood happen two ways: first very slowly, and then all of a sudden.)
People often ask me if I wanted to write the screenplay or if I have anything to do with the film project. The answer to both questions is no. The Art of Racing in the Rain is my baby and I am not the right person to adapt it to a film or a haiku.
But I do look forward to taking my three sons to the local cineplex, buying them each a tub of popcorn, and watching the film with them when it’s released. Yes, each of my boys will get their own popcorn; no sharing necessary when your old man’s novel has finally made it to the silver screen.
Written by: Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain. Be sure to check out the exclusive giveaway for the book Racing in The Rain!
Garth Stein is the author of the New York Times best selling novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain (Harper, 2008). Now published in 30 languages, The Art of Racing in the Rain was the #1 BookSense selection for June, 2008, the Starbucks spring/summer 2008 book selection, and has been on the IndieBound bestseller list since its publication. Stein’s previous novel, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets (Soho Press, 2005) won a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, and was a BookSense Pick in both hardcover and paperback. Raven Stole the Moon (Harper, 2010) was Stein’s first novel. He has also written a full-length play, Brother Jones, and produced a number of award-winning documentaries.
Photo by Abigail Seymour