Sunday, November 19, 2006

Oy, the Questions! (Part IV)

Continuing on with the questions from the Kennesaw State University Entertainment Marketing studients --

A question from D.T. -- What is the most interesting place you've traveled to?

I lived in Hong Kong for seven months as part of my job back in '94-95. I'd traveled to Britain, but never to Asia. It was a culture shock of major proportions. (My husband remained in the U.S.) I didn't speak Cantonese and though I'd spent a number of months studying customs, etc., nothing prepares you for actually living in a foreign country. We were setting up a new office and photo studio for my employer (an Iowa-based company). Intially there were two of us -- myself and a young fellow with a delightful Irish name. I went over a teetotaler and by the time Sean got through with me, I could pack down two or three pints in no time.

The work involved long hours (75-80 hours per week) and everything was a consummate hassle because I didn't grow up in the culture, couldn't speak the language, etc. By the end of the seven months I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

But the oddest thing happened -- a year later I was sent to Taiwan to live and the moment I stepped off the plane, I went, "Hey, I know this." I put my Western expectations in my back pocket and I was 'home'. The one month stay in Taipei was a breeze compared to the months in Hong Kong. Asia had changed me. I was never the same. There is a clear pre- and post-Hong Kong Jana. Even my friends noticed. If I could survive in an alien city, living on my own, working against impossible odds against ridiculous deadlines, I could do anything.

And I have from that point on. omeday I'll go back to Hong Kong, go to Mad Dog's for a pint (a Brit pub) and take the fennicular railway to the top of Victoria Peak so I can gaze on the harbor once more. It'll be good to be home.

And from C.S. -- Would you like for one of your books to be turned into a movie? Why or Why not?

Every writer dreams of arriving in a limo, stepping onto the red carpet, accepting a kiss on their hand from George Clooney (or Johnny Depp or...) Well, maybe not every writer. I do. It'd be a sincere kick to see your work on the big screen.

But you won't you see it, not the way your wrote it. SOJOURN is 369 pages. A movie is, at best, 120 minutes (unless it's LOTR). That's 120 pages of script. So a lot of stuff has to be trashed. That lovely scene where your hero/heroine discuss their past lovers -- toast. Instead you get a car chase through the back alleys of Late Victorian London -- gotta be there for the movie buffs.

To paraphrase a well-known author -- You drive your manuscript to the California state line, throw it across and take the check home and cash it.

It's never going to be exactly like your baby (even Peter Jackson altered some of the LOTR scenes). Once you accept that and the fact there will be little Hedwigs or magical wands in the Happy Meals, you'll be a whole lot happier.

From T.C. -- Would you consider writing in a different style (say crime/suspense/romance)? Would you use an alter[nate] author name or use your own name?

My latest book has been called suspense so I've already crossed that stream. My first book was a paranormal romance, so that stream's forded as well. I suspect I'll write in most genres (except chick lit though my heroine in SOJOURN does have a thing about comfortable shoes). If I pen something that is ultra sizzling erotica, that will go under another name for sure. My readers come to expect a certain type of book and where I like to surprise them, it's best if I don't give them a stroke.


Crystal S. said...

Hi Jana,

I know exactly what you mean about what your story looses once it is turned into a movie. I loved the book "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, but after seeing the movie I was not impressed. The book is soo much better. But for you I hope to one day watch Entertainment Tonight and see Jann Carl interviewing you about turing your book into a great movie!!!

Anonymous said...

Jana, well it seems like Hong Kong made a lasting impression on you. I wish I could have the chance to travel when I start working. I think experiencing a new culture can change you, and that is something I look forward to experiencing, hopefully sooner than later.

Jana Oliver said...

A new culture will test every belief and assumption you've come to hold dear. You're out of your element and have few things you can 'velcro' onto.

A quick example -- Ordering a McDonald's meal in HKG. Should be simple cuz they all take English in school so the clueless American has a chance at ordering a meal.

No way. I had folks at the counter refuse to serve me or point down the counter to another ordertaker. I rarely got what I ordered. I even tried the little picture menu and pointed at different items. The Coke sometimes morphed into Sprite. I pointed at the Sprite image and I'd either get Coke or something orange. The hamburger usually came through as ordered. Initially I was frustrated as all hell. Finally, I realized that if I couldn't speak the language, it was a crapshoot.

Once I accepted I wasn't likely to get what I ordered, it was fine. It was always an adventure. Which is pretty much what travel is all about.