THE 'WIRALEE TRILOGY'
'GUNNEDAH HERO' - THE MOVIE
I guess you are wondering who are the three characters depicted above? Well, they are the three main characters in what I call my Wiralee Series. As most of you know, my first book is called 'Gunnedah Hero', which has won several awards. It has also inspired an experienced Australian movie maker, John Campbell, to make it into a feature movie. In case you haven't read this book, here is the blurb. By the way, the man depicted on the front cover of the book is a man who was the main horse consultant on The Man from Snowy River - 1 & 2. His name is Mark Arbuthnot, and I can guarantee that he knows heaps about horses. Great bloke as well.
BLURB FOR 'GUNNEDAH HERO':
Fourteen-year-old Gunnedah ‘Gunnie’ Danson has a 500-word assignment on drought. His late grandfather has left him a box containing a manuscript. It’s been written by Gunnie’s great-great-grandfather, Smokey ‘Gun’ Danson after his journey up the long paddock during a harsh drought as a fourteen-year-old drover in 1910. At the back of the manuscript is an envelope. It’s NOT to be opened until Gunnie has read the entire story.
Gunnie spends the weekend at Wiralee Station; a cattle station that’s been in the family since 1848. There, he reads the awesome manuscript and learns of Smokey’s adventurous journey.
Gunnie overhears several secretive conversations. His snobby Aunty Kate wants to divorce his uncle and sell Wiralee Station. He finishes the manuscript and opens the mysterious envelope. Will it legally prevent his aunt from selling Wiralee Station?
WRITING THE SCREENPLAY:
John Campbell, the movie maker, has read all of my books, but he was impressed by the story contained within Gunnedah Hero. John rang me and asked if he could make a feature film of this book, and if I could write the screenplay. Always wanting a challenge, I jumped at the idea of writing a screenplay, though I'd never written one before. Why did I jump to do it? The main reason was simple. No one knew the story better than me, so I knew I could write the same passion and feeling into the screenplay. If someone else had written it, they'd have not given the story the same slant, and no doubt they'd have changed vital points.
So, I researched screenplay-writing and got stuck into it. Interestingly, I found writing a screenplay an anxious and stressful job. Thus, I wrote it in segments, because I felt stressed if I did too much at once. However, that is not the case when I write a novel. Whenever I'm writing a novel I work 12 hours a day and normally it takes me 3 months to complete. Not sure why that is, but I have given it heaps of thought and I think the difference is that I am totally fixed on a movie as I write a screenplay, the visual, whereas writing a novel just comes straight out of my head and is free flowing.
Having said that, when I wrote the screenplay I became aware of something that had never occurred to me. That is, when I wrote the screenplay, I recalled many many moments whilst writing my novels when I subconsciously imagined how that paragraph, section, or moment of action would appear on the big screen. It enabled me to focus on writing that section more meaningful for my readers.
Smokey 'Gun' Danson
SEQUEL TO 'GUNNEDAH HERO':
I had always wanted to write many books about the main characters in Gunnedah Hero. Why, because there were so many issues to write about a family who owned an Australian cattle station - bushfires, drought, floods, family etc. So, I wrote the sequel and called it 'A Drover's Blanket'. Now, here is a tidbit from an author. I still recall the day I invented that term, A Drover's Blanket. I was sitting in my study, glanced out the window and BANG that term popped into my head. I immediately felt goosebumps on my arms. The term described the Milky Way. As drover's slept under their swags at night, they looked up and saw billions of stars every night - just like a blanket above them.
Gunnedah Hero is a coming-of-age story about a young farm boy in 1910 - Smokey. A Drover's Blanket highlights the stresses and strains felt by Molly, and all farmers and their families during long droughts.
The sequel is probably the hardest book I've ever written. Why, because I had the original manuscript of Gunnedah Hero beside me as I wrote the sequel. I needed to have consistent language with my characters, and keep all facts correct. It is a powerful story.
Molly Jane Swenson
THE THREE MAIN CHARACTERS:
As mentioned above, there are three main characters in this series: Smokey, Molly (Smokey's girlfriend) and Magic Billie (an Aboriginal drover who became best mates with Smokey on his trip). Gunnedah Hero is all about Smokey Danson, a fourteen-year-old boy, as he takes his family's cattle up the long paddock during Australia's worst drought, hoping to keep them alive. A Drover's Blanket is Molly's story - what her life was like whilst Smokey was droving his cattle north. The third book in the series, Magic Billie, is yet to be written. However, I'm soon planning to spend a few months overseas to at least get started. This book will be Magic Billie's story; an Aboriginal drover and shearer in 1910, who happens to meet Smokey, and they remain close mates until they die.
THE WIRALEE TRILOGY?
Wiralee is the name of the family cattle station owned by the Danson family, and it was the suggestion of John Campbell, that we work towards making three movies based on the three main characters, and call it the Wiralee Trilogy. That's the plan folks.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Well, the legal agreements have been negotiated and signed between John Campbell and myself, with the extraordinary assistance of our mutual friend and Barrister, Paul Kouris, who is now Chief Legal Counsel for Gunnedah Hero - The Movie.
As you can imagine, making a movie is no simple process. From here on we have to find suitable funding, locations, wardrobes, actors etc. The list goes on. However, much has already been done. I have just finished the third revision of the screenplay to reduce it from 4 hours to two hours.
So, let me know if you know anyone who would be keen to sponsor and finance this movie. Stay tuned, folks. I'm sure we are in for one hell of a ride.
Clancy's comment: I will keep you informed as to our progress. Oh, if you are keen to read these stories, just head up to the right-hand side of this page and grab a copy; signed paperback or e-Book.