Sunday Mail Column for Sunday 27 February 2011: the one about the movie

It is a well-known truth that many first novels are deeply autobiographical. Harper Lee drew inspiration from her own Alabama childhood when she penned To Kill A Mockingbird, basing Atticus Finch on her real-life attorney father and many of the other characters on herself, her friends and family. Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One draws heavily on Courtenay’s very real experience as a small child in a South African orphanage. Closer to home, Nick Earls’ own coming of age story, After January, was inspired by Earls’ own teenage summer vacations at Caloundra. Dave Eggers. David Malouf. Lily Brett. Hunter S Thompson. Jack Kerouac. Frank McCourt. Khaled Hosseini, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, John Birmingham. Andrew McGahan.  They’ve all – to varying degrees – followed the old adage, “write what you know”.

While my first novel hardly belongs in such esteemed company, the fact is I’m no different. My first novel, The Girl Most Likely, is the story of Rachel Hill, a travel writer who goes to Vegas and marries her American boyfriend in secret only to wind up broke, unemployed, working as a nanny and living back in her childhood bedroom at her parents’ house in Kenmore. By complete coincidence I was a travel writer who secretly married her American boyfriend in Las Vegas only to wind up broke, unemployed, working as a nanny and living back in my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house in Chapel Hill. It is fiction after all.

But if you think it’s a little weird to write about your real life in a novel, imagine what a freak-out it is when someone wants to turn that semi-autobiographical novel into a movie. Imagine the head spin when names like Isla Fisher and Jessica Marais are being bandied about to play the lead. The lead who is based on you.  Could Jessica Marais really play a character based on me?  She’s tiny. I look like I ate Jessica Marais.  Perhaps she could play my left thigh.

Anyway.  The good news is that screenwriter and producer Ken Wallace is keen to have fans of the book involved in the production.  What does that mean? It means if you want to follow the project, have your voice heard or be considered for casting, join the Facebook page for updates and register your interest at

Now for the bad news (I’m hiding under the desk while I type this bit).  At this stage, the film may not be shot in Brisbane.

“Of course we’d love to film in Brisbane but financing dictates many of our locational decisions so we have to keep an open mind. Could Rachel be a Sydney-sider? I don’t know. Would that be bad thing?” Ken says to me over email.

ARE YOU MAD? I scream back at the computer screen.  This could be Praise all over again.

If you’d like to see the movie shot in Brisbane, do me a favour and go online. Tell Ken what you think.

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  1. Dale Kerans on February 27, 2011 at 8:19 am

    sorry Bec – the site apparently does not exist! Does it have an ‘au’ on the end of it? thanks – looking forward to it when it comes out…and I was born in Sydney, so it’s no biggie! lol Dale Kerans

  2. Kylie L on February 27, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Have been following your tweets re the movie re interest- but now that I’ve just finished “The Year Nick McGowan came to stay” I want to see that included too. Mainly to feast my eyes on Nick. Yes, I know he’s 17, and I’m, um, not. That’s the point.

    PS. First novels autobiographical??? No way!!
    PPS. After The Fall is my third novel. The other two didn’t get publsihed is all. #justsaying

    • becsparrow on February 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm

      What on earth are you doing reading “Nick McGowan”??? Read Swallow the Air you insane woman!

      (PS Nick McGowan debuted as a stage play back in 2007 … it was like reliving my high school days ….)

      PPS Ever tempted to re-draft your earlier novels??

  3. Al on February 27, 2011 at 10:04 am

    As your friend (oh, and self-appointed CEO of the Bec Sparrow Fan Club) I simply cannot stand by and allow such a travesty! To shoot TGML anywhere but in Brisbane’s western suburbs would be like filming Nick Earl’s ZigZag Street in Uzbekistan!

    Please! Ken! You can’t be serious?! Do you not understand how many of us die-hards will find ourselves in serious states of anxiety? Do you really want to see me fall off my soap-box as I take on this cause and cease sleeping until I win? Do you really want to risk your home being egged? Being stalked, receiving texts 24/7 from me (and others whom I am sure will rally behind this) as we commence a rolling text/twitter-WAR!? I can assure it won’t be pretty!

    Bec, talk to this Ken-doll. Tell him, from me, these three simple words…
    You. Just. Can’t.

  4. Lee George (Ms) on February 27, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Brisbane! It must be Brisbane! There is no question and there should be no hesitation…the location MUST be Brisbane!

  5. Kathleen on February 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Dale, you forgot to add ‘the’ at the beginning of girlmostlikely. I’m just saying.

  6. living savvy on February 27, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    The ups & downs of having the rights to your novel picked up, let the fun begin. All the best with the to & fro with the negotiations Bec, I am sure you will approach with good humour and a postive spirit.

    • becsparrow on February 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      You’re always so lovely, Jo. Thank you. x

  7. Jen Maree on February 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    NOT IN BRISBANE?!?!?!?! NOOOOOOOO! Big fat exclaimation-point overdose NO.
    Please for the love of god and all the froot loops in the world, do not shoot anywhere other than brisbane. Fans like me will not be impressed.
    Also. Where do I contact this Ken???

  8. Jen Maree on February 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    The Facebook abuses is done and done Bec!! Fingers crossed for a Brisbane shoot!!! I will personally contribute with the tiny amount of spare change I have if that’s what it takes! Haha.

  9. Susan Tebbitt on March 1, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    I’m such a ludite. I went to Ken’s page, signed up for his stinky (if this book is not filmed in Brissy) email list but there are no contact details for the elusive Ken-Doll. hmmm. shall not give up. Must get movie made here where it belongs.

  10. confused on April 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    How can you be unemployed AND working as a nanny????????????!!!!!!!!!

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About Bec

Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.

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