Shadowmancer - Press
Last Update: 31 March 2004
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Mark Branagan and Chris Benfield
27 March 2004
A NORTH Yorkshire vicar is the latest author to sell a children's story to
Hollywood for a fortune.
Graham Taylor, vicar of Cloughton, just north of Scarborough, sold his
motorbike to pay for the first 2,500 copies of Shadowmancer. But he has
since sold half a million &SHY; and has now secured £2.2m for the film rights,
including an advance of £175,000.
"The advance is safely in the bank and they have to pay me the same
every year until filming starts, when I get the lot," he said last night.
Mel Gibson is being asked to consider directing the film.
But whoever takes it on will be committed to filming on the Yorkshire coast,
between Scarborough and Whitby. That condition is written into the author's
Mr Taylor's US agent has done a deal with Fortitude Films, run by two
experienced deal-makers who have a good relationship with Mel Gibson,
star of the Mad Max films and Braveheart and director of the controversial
new crucifixion story The Passion Of The Christ.
The vicar said yesterday: "They are asking him to direct it. Whether
he agrees or not is another matter &SHY; but I would love him to."
Fortitude Films has suggested Donald Sutherland for the lead adult part
of a good-hearted smuggler. But Mr Taylor says he wrote it with Sean
Bean in mind "because I wanted his accent, grit and humour".
He said Roman Polanski had expressed an interest in directing the film
"but he wanted to film it in France, which was a deal breaker for me".
He has insisted on outdoor scenes being filmed where they are set, in
order to bring revenue to his home area.
Mr Taylor, 45, who writes as G.P. Taylor, credits the Yorkshire Post with
starting national interest in Shadowmancer last year. After that, it became
an international phenomenon.
It starts with an 18th-century shipwreck on the North Yorkshire coast and
stars three teenagers fighting a criminal mastermind who uses occult
forces in his pursuit of a relic from the Ark of the Covenant.
Mr Taylor, who grew up in Scarborough, was a school drop-out, a punk
record-plugger, a social worker and a policeman, before he became a vicar.
He told the Yorkshire Post last year: "I got four O-levels. As a kid, my
reading was Sparky comic and Motor Cycle News. I never read books."
But his own first effort was snapped up by Faber & Faber when they saw
a copy from the self-published first run.
He was immediately commissioned to write two more and has delivered
one. The Yorkshire Post's books editor, John Yates, has seen it and
predicted at Christmas that it would be one of the hits of 2004. He said
Shadowmancer had been compared to Harry Potter but was "far superior
in every way".
Success has been mixed with worry over the past year. The strain of leading
two lives has seen the father of three in and out of hospital with heart
trouble and he has given notice to the Church of England that he must leave
his £16,500-a-year day job as vicar of Cloughton and three neighbouring
villages. He is looking for a house nearby.
Meanwhile, he has given some support to his favourite local charities.
He said last night: "On the day we got the first publishing deal, we
celebrated with a meal at Bonnet's of Scarborough and that is as
extravagant as we have got so far."
The Hollywood deal follows two years of huge success for children's
films with adult appeal &SHY; particularly the Harry Potter series.
Other books in the running to become the next blockbusters in that
genre are The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time, by
Oxford-based author Mark Haddon, Inkheart, a story involving a
magician's family, by German author Cornelia Funke, One For Sorrow:
Two For Joy, by Cambridgeshire supermarket manager Clive Woodall
and The Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman.
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