Doug: Today on Everyday Lives, Everyday Values I'm very pleased to have back with us Orson Scott Card. And I was reading through the bio on you and it is just amazing. Fifty books right now, fifty novels and other books that have been translated into more than fifteen languages. The last time we talked we were talking about Stone Tables: The Story of Moses. It was named one of the Booklist's Top Ten Christian novels for 1998. He has also won the Hugo and the Nebula Awards for best novel two years in a row. What a great pleasure to have you back with us here on Everyday Lives, Everyday Values.
OSC: Oh, it is a delight to be here.
Doug: Before we talk about the new book, SARAH, which is out right now and published by Shadow Mountain, give us a little update on what you're doing, where you are, what has been happening? I know last time when we talked about Stone Tables you were working on things, so give us an update.
OSC: Oh, well, one of the plagues of my life is that about five years ago I decided to try to move into film in a serious way. And I realize that there are people who work ten, twelve years on a movie, but it is very frustrating that after five years of pretty steady work in film, I still don't have a single produced film. Now, we're getting very close on a couple of projects. After the success of God's Army we're having a much better time getting backing for our film called "My One and Only," which is about four women at BYU. And we're also looking at my screenplay for "Homebody" being filmed this spring. And maybe Ender's Game will someday become a movie.
Doug: Oh, wow!
OSC: So that is what has been consuming my life. I still have to write novels in order to pay the bills because as of this moment I have earned about, I think a total of $12,000 over five years from filmwork.
Doug: It's that lucrative, huh?
OSC: Yeah, it is incredible. Well, people always assume that movies mean money. And they do to the people who own them. But writers are notoriously underpaid and anything they can get us to do for free they will. And nothing happens until the writer starts writing. But nobody wants to pay the writer for it in advance.
Doug: What seems to be the hang-up with getting things on the screen? What have you found to be the biggest obstacle?
OSC: Oh, it is the obstacle that they always have in Hollywood, it is fear. Naked fear. Everybody knows that an enormous amount of money and everybody's career is on the line with every movie. So if they say, "Yes" to a project and it tanks, they are dead. So nobody wants to say yes. And the people at the very highest levels, when they say yes they have to have some really good reason so they can say, "Hey, anybody would have made this choice because Bruce Willis is playing the lead, for heaven's sakes."
OSC: And so they want to have those protections. But Bruce Willis doesn't want to get into the movie that he isn't sure is going to succeed, so he wants to have the right Director. In other words you have to already be in, in order to get in. And eventually somewhere you find a key, you know, someway to open the door just a crack. And once the door is open a crack then you're okay and they can hire you. But that is just the way it goes. That's Hollywood. It is a crazy place.
Doug: You mentioned the success of God's Army has somewhat paved the way a little bit. That was an amazing success. And it will be interesting to see because it has yet to be released on video, so who knows?
OSC: Well, I, what I'm happy about with God's Army is, as far I can tell, I mean you have to make changes in things in order to make it work as a movie, but all of the changes that Richard Dutcher made from reality to fit what the movie needed were decent changes, good changes. And he was able to tell a story that had, I think the heart and the spirit that make a Mormon film work. I'm really pleased at the way that that film was handled, because I had great trepidations. I'm always terrified when somebody tries to deal with missionary work and fiction or film. You know, not even mentioning what non-Mormons do.
Doug: Oh, it has been done very irreverently, you're right.
OSC: Right, but even when Mormons are doing it, usually there is too much piety or, you know, one of the things that, actually I was having dinner with a friend who is a mission president and he was kind of complaining that God's Army doesn't show the mission president as doing things that a mission president would do. And I hadn't seen the film at that time; now having seen it I understand exactly why Richard Dutcher made the choice to sort of keep the mission president out of situations that in real life a mission president would be in. And that was because, if the mission president's in, he has to do something. And either what he does will fix the problem, or what he does will not fix the problem. Either way, the film is dead because if the mission president fixes the problems then the missionaries don't get to do anything.
Doug: Yeah, it is done.
OSC: And if he doesn't fix the problem, then what are you doing? You're a Mormon showing mission presidents as ineffective? You know, you can't do either one. So the best thing to do is to keep them off the screen as much as possible and let the missionaries work it out, even though in many of the situations depicted the mission president would have been right there. You know, any decent mission president would have.
Doug: Sure, sure.
OSC: And so, you know little unrealities like that you just say, "Forget it. It is a great story and he is faithful to the spirit of mission life. It is a film that we don't have to be embarrassed showing to non-Mormons, but at the same time we can recognize as being a story told by a Mormon to a Mormon audience." That is a wonderful thing.
Doug: You mentioned several titles, several works of yours that you are working on for the big screen. Which has the best odds right now? What is your money on?
OSC: For actually getting it made in Hollywood, it is the film called "Homebody". We're doing it in association with a producer, a really likable guy who has already got one film underway and is filming a second one right now. It will be done as an independent feature and it is sort of a contemporary ghost story. And we're looking at some pretty interesting people in the cast. But we're really hopeful that this will be a film that will break out.
Doug: I'm keeping my fingers crossed because so many of us who are fans of yours, you know, want not only that to be on the big screen, but others you mentioned, Ender's Game. Oh, man. I can only imagine the frenzy of Orson Scott Card fans who would just be flocking to the theaters to see that one.
OSC: Well, and the thing is I know that that is my most commercial project, but it will only get one chance to be made. And it needs to be made well, or not.
OSC: And if it is made badly, you know, I'll never get another shot.
[More in interview, about writing, particularly about Card's novel Sarah.]
OREM -- International best-selling author and Hugo-award winner Orson Scott Card was here recently to promote his new book: "Sarah: Women of Genesis."
The visit was a special stop for Card because he is a former Orem resident.
In an interview with The Daily Herald, Card discussed both his new book and his feelings toward his former hometown.
"I love my time in Utah County," Card said. "It has been good for me to get experience outside of Utah, but Orem continues to be a wonderful place in my experience."
Card said he is appreciative of the way the community has embraced his work.
"I have always enjoyed a high level of support here. There has also sometimes been a certain level of criticism from people here, but overall I have enjoyed the support of the majority of the community."
Card said his new book, which explores the viewpoint of the women in the book of Genesis, is the result of "one of a thousand ideas I have that I wanted to explore as a writer. Sarah and Rebekah are both fascinating and intriguing women, and I wanted to explore the story told in Genesis from their point of view."
"Sarah" will be Card's second novel published by Deseret Book. The majority of his books are science fiction marketed for a national audience.
Card is also working on three film projects, including one entitled "My One and Only," that will be marketed specifically for a Latter-day Saint audience much in the same way as the recent first-of-its-kind film "God's Army."
Below is a short excerpt from a lengthy Question and Answer page:
What are you currently working on that requires research?
Everything I do requires the first two types of research -- and the third type comes up for most works. For instance, my screenplay for "My One and Only," set in contemporary Provo, Utah, required that I take into account the actual services provided by the BYU Housing Office. Members of the audience would know, and I didn't know, so I had to find out!... I'm always doing general research and thinking of ways to apply it to my stories, along with inventing and researching specific information that each project requires. That's how I live.