Lights, camera, action … at the keyboard.

Director/writer Raymond De Fellita is fuckin’ brilliant, fahgedaboudit. I saw “City Island” at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009 and I plotzed. I could not believe that somebody could have the imagination and craft to put together such high-minded ridiculousness. So what did I do?

Well, my wife went over to talk to Julianna Margulies (they go way, way back to when she was a baby). While she and Julianna were reminiscing, I found Raymond standing right behind me. So I told him how great I thought “City Island” and his work was, and told him about HUMPTY DUMPTY WAS PUSHED. He told me there was a buzz about it and I should send the novel to him. Two days later we talked about him doing the movie.

Since then, we’ve been working on it, and the creative process has been really thought provoking.

Raymond said he wanted to start with a treatment, but before he did, he had several questions regarding the background of the characters.

For example… (and note: Spoiler alert!):

QUESTION: How good is PROOF POSITIVE? Is there more mileage in the story if the group is GREAT? Maybe makes the whole journey downhill sadder if in fact they have major stuff?

Good Question. So I answered:

Several things about the process are true here—it is based on my experience as a producer. First Biz is a producer like Eminem’s producer, Dr. Dre. Now Dre has also produced numerous other bestselling artists, so I’m not implying that Eminem isn’t amazing. But he’s rapping over some masterpiece-type music, which in all likelihood was created by Dre. So first you have Biz the producer with a history of hits (like Dre), and the tracks Proof are rapping over is probably a killer one created by Biz. ?Second, when a producer is hot in the biz, he can do no wrong. Biz’s track record is why Sunn wants in on anything with which Biz is involved.

Questions like this one from Raymond force me to think about my novel as a point of departure for something cinematic. This process makes me think about what I’ve written in a different way that causes me much brain freeze as well as elation … lots of “duh? And “huh!” moments.

To help me make the mental transition, Raymond drew a terrific comparison for me that I think you’ll like. Remember the film “LA Confidential?” Well, if you view is award-winning film and then read the novel you’ll see that the film’s and Ellroy’s novel’s approach are different. The novel is more complex; the movie focuses on the emotional journey of two characters. Yet one comes away with a cohesive whole; and that’s what Raymond said he would like to achieve with HUMPTY DUMPTY.

I am finding this process wonderfully enlightening. What’s really been interesting is how this collaboration has altered (very favorably) my approach to my next novel. Thank you Raymond!

Stay tuned as the process continues.