Novelist Eric Wilson's latest screenplay-to-novel project is
October Baby, now available at booksellers. Wilson
co-wrote the novel with Theresa Preston, also a co-writer of the
screenplay. The story is captivating, and it handles numerous
issues superbly -- forgiveness, life issues, over-protective
parents, and other relationship challenges.
When 19-year-old Hannah Lawson's parents tell her she was
adopted, her first response is shock. That reaction is followed
immediately by a storm of anger and disillusionment, plus the
feeling that her whole life has been a lie.
Ironically, her parents had expected to wait even later to
reveal this bit of her history, but Hannah's severe asthma problems
escalate, and they are compelled to share a secret they had kept
since her birth. A part of Hannah's hidden past is that she
survived her birth mother's abortion attempt. And there's more.
Hannah's gripping story is told in the novel October
Baby by New York Times best-selling author Eric Wilson
(see interview below), who novelized Sherwood
Pictures' movies Facing the Giants and Fireproof.
This latest novel is based on the screenplay of the same title, a
film written and produced by Jon and Andrew Erwin. Credits include
some noteworthy names: Chris Sligh (American Idol, 2007)
and John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard, I Am
Gabriel, Hidden Secrets). Dave Johnson (Sue
Thomas FBEye, Doc) is executive producer.
As tension grows between Hannah and her parents, more conflict
arises between Mom and Dad as to how much and precisely how to fill
in more gaps of Hannah's life. So it's evident that there's more to
her back story than just an adoption.
Unfortunately, they don't act quickly enough. Against their
wishes, Hannah joins Jason, her best friend since childhood, his
girlfriend and a few quirky friends on a road trip. Jason is the
only friend to whom she has told her life-shattering story.
Jason steers the trip through Mobile, where Hannah was born, in
an attempt to help her find her birth mother. She runs into an
apparent dead end when they discover the hospital where she was
born is closed. But she pushes a door open and finds some old
records. Unfortunately, the two intruders wind up in jail on a
breaking-and-entering charge, but the information they gather leads
them to the nurse who delivered Hannah. Eventually, she finds her
birth mother, but it is, at best, a bittersweet encounter.
October Baby is a captivating story, and it handles
numerous issues superbly -- forgiveness, life issues,
over-protective parents and other relationship challenges. Anyone
who has seen the film will be entertained and encouraged anew by
Eric Wilson's superb novel, a literary form which allows him to
flesh out characters more than a film has time for. The novel is
available at booksellers, and the DVD is available through the American
Novelist adds depth, details to screenplay
Novelist Eric Wilson's latest screenplay-to-novel project is
October Baby, now available at booksellers. Wilson shared
the following insights in an exclusive interview with AFA
You've written four screenplay-to-novel projects now. How
did you come to be the go-to guy for this kind of novel?
The process is sort of a new process. Even now, people will say,
"Did you write the screenplay for the movie?" They assume the movie
is based on my book. This process of doing it in reverse is fairly
new. What's happened -- and this isn't just in the Christian market
-- is that a lot of visual arts turned back into a written form
have built-in marketing based on the fact that a lot of people have
seen a movie.
It's sort of a sign of our times that the visual arts are so
much more prevalent than literature, but they're finding a way to
keep literature alive that way. So I got connected to [Sherwood
Pictures] through Thomas Nelson when I was under contract with
them, and I realized this was a process I enjoy and would want to
Are you a big film buff?
I love movies. My wife and I have two daughters 18 and 20, and
we've always watched movies together. That's definitely been a part
of the enjoyment of it. It's always nice to find movies that are
uplifting or have a good moral foundation. That alone is nice, but
on top of that, having something that points to Jesus out of it all
is pretty rare. To find films that do that is always a
Christian fiction is growing along with Christian films. Do
you have favorite novelists?
I'm a huge reader. I was actually in the top 100 reviewers on
Amazon over pretty much the past decade because I review so many
books and I've endorsed a lot. A lot of those have been Christian
I tend to like darker stuff because dealing with dark issues or
deep struggles that people go through and seeing redemption come
out of that makes the redemption that much more amazing. I love
Stephen James and Mike Delosso. I like Athol Dickson; he writes a
little more literary stuff. Tricia Goyer writes really great WWII
historical novels that I've enjoyed.
There's so much great Christian fiction, but unfortunately a lot
of readers don't discover it because all they know of is some of
the Amish novels. They'll think, "I'm not into that."
Tell us about the process of writing a novel from a
I basically take the bones of the story, and get those all down,
and then start adding description and that sort of thing. But as I
write, there usually are sub-plots that come to mind that weren't
in the story but will end up working seamlessly [into the novel].
What happens usually with my novels is that people will read them
and think all the stuff I've added was stuff that was never able to
be filmed because of time or money constraints. They don't realize
how much I've added.
How do you flesh out characters? Did you add any characters
in 'October Baby'?
The main stuff I added was background -- Hannah's childhood, the
connections with the different characters. I wanted to show a
little more of the birth mother's story -- not to go into it too
much, but I did try to show a little bit more of that. Of course, I
added a lot more in the humorous scenes of Truman, the red-headed
guy. I had fun with his character.
I also wanted to be able to convey the abortion nurse, what
she's gone through and make her a sympathetic character, not
somebody that we just instantly have a prejudice against. I ended
up loving that character [because of] what we talked about earlier
-- redemption from dark places. That's partly why it was important
for me to capture that, to show this lady who's been through some
hard times and bad decisions in her past, but is now trying to make
some right choices.
What are the challenges of taking a screenplay and creating
a novel from it?
The first challenge I had with October Baby came from
the publisher and editors saying, "We know you can write, and you
can meet deadlines and all that kind of thing, but are you the
right person to write a 19-year-old girl's story about adoption and
I said, "Well, I'm a middle-aged guy, but I have a 19-year-old
daughter. And my wife was adopted, so that really touches my heart.
I feel like I can capture that. In my own background, my parents
weren't married when I was conceived. They were teenagers, and they
eloped and got married. They had that choice to end the pregnancy
and have an abortion -- and I wouldn't have been here." All those
things I was passionate about.
Then, when it comes to the actual writing, the movies raise the
bar. I think, "How am I going to capture that really powerful
scene?" In film, there's something about the visual aspect of it
that can capture you in different ways.
An example of a visual scene that was hard to put on paper was
in Facing the Giants -- the death crawl. You hear the tone
of the coach's voice, and this football player groaning, struggling
through this thing and he's blindfolded. All these things really
work in film. I thought, "I don't know if I can write this to
satisfy readers in quite the same way."
But as I wrote it, I prayed, "Lord help me to capture this."
That's probably one of the favorite scenes I've written in one of
Did you alter the setting in any way?
The movie script didn't have a specific location to tell me
where the story is set. They had filmed it using things that were
economical and locations that worked. But they described going to
Mardi Gras and said it was a 12-hour drive. So where are they
that's a 12-hour drive from there?
The screenwriter and the director said, "I guess you can just
choose what you want." On the other hand, people have seen it, and
they're going to kind of know what it looks like so it has to match
that. I spent a couple of days trying to decide where it was going
to be located. I came up with Wilmington, North Carolina, which
actually looked quite a bit like it, and there were some things
that tied in. For example, Wilmington has a Butterfly Room -- you
know the butterfly is kind of a symbolic thing through the
What is your biggest hope for 'October Baby'?
I hope people read it. I hope people who think it's just some
story with a big pro-life stance from a preachy perspective will
give it a chance and realize it's a great story we can all relate
to. I would hope that people who aren't pro-life would read it and
their hearts would be changed, that they would be moved to realize
that life is valuable, of course specifically that there'd be
people who are on the verge of making a decision that's going to
alter eternity, that they would step back from that decision and
change their minds because of October Baby.
Ultimately, it's God who's got to change people's hearts. I
think legislation and all those things are important, but it really
becomes an individual issue, God changing hearts and minds and
opening our eyes to see.
Randall Murphree is editor of AFA Journal,
a regular publication of the American Family Association.
This column is printed with permission. Opinions expressed in 'Perspectives' columns published by OneNewsNow.com are the sole responsibility of the article's author(s), or of the person(s) or organization(s) quoted therein, and do not necessarily represent those of the staff or management of, or advertisers who support the American Family News Network, OneNewsNow.com, our parent organization or its other affiliates.