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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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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