Monday, September 13, 2010

An interview with the lovely Toni Jordan.

A month before the release of Toni Jordan’s second novel Fall Girl, her publishers have sold the film rights to her widely acclaimed debut novel Addition. I thought I’d ask her to come down from the clouds for a moment and talk to me about it.

First of all, congratulations! You must be super excited. Please tell me when and how you heard the news, and how you reacted.

It's been a long process. Addition was first published in February 2008, so I've had many meetings with talented, imaginative film-makers who had all kind of ideas for the book. In the end, Christina and Bruna seemed like a perfect fit.

Good news needs to be shared. Who did you tell first and how did they react?

It wasn't a 'OMG' moment, but rather something the rights team at Text have been working toward for almost 3 years. These things don't just happen without a great deal of strategy and hard work. I think the reaction from everyone was relief!

Were you involved in the process? Will you have any input before or during production?

Yes, I met with everyone who submitted a formal proposal and thought hard about who would be the best people to look after Addition. I knew nothing about either film-making or adaptations beforehand, so it's been fascinating. I don't know yet how much input the filmmakers want from me. I want to do whatever is necessary to help make the film a success, and that might be just getting out of the way and letting them do it!

If you could choose anyone you wanted to play Grace and Seamus who would you choose?

Oh I wish I was a visual kind of person! I can barely even picture what I look like. Sadly I have no idea.

Did you ever think about Addition becoming a film while you were writing it?

Never. In fact, when I was signing my original contract with my publisher, my husband Robbie and I had a small chuckle at the section marked 'film rights'. "Yeah, right," we said to each other.

How long do you think it will be before we see it on the big screen?

Ummm--no idea! These things can take years...

If there is one part of the book you’d hate to see them get wrong what is it? Why?

The only thing that really matters to me is that Grace is treated with respect. She is intelligent and sexy and funny, and I'd hate to see her become a twitching OCD stereotype. Her condition is just one part of her and by no means the most important part.

If there is one part you don’t want them to leave out what is it? Why?

Nothing really. Film making is a very distinct art form, and something that works perfectly on the page might not work on the screen. It's the spirit of the book, rather than the letter, that I want to see preserved.

I hear you’re thinking of asking for a cameo appearance in the film. Is that true?

It started off as a bit of a joke, but who knows?

Your new novel Fall Girl is due for release next month. Please tell me something about it.

I'm very excited about Fall Girl! I've tried to channel my love for screw-ball romantic comedies of the forties and fifities into a modern story--a novelistic 'Charade' or 'To catch a thief', something where you could imagine Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn as the protagonists. Except set in Melbourne. Those classic romantic comedies had it all: fascinating characters, intricate plots, witty dialogue and sexual tension to burn. I only hope I've done them justice.

The second novel can sometimes be daunting for a writer who’s had such success with the first. Was this true for you?

For a long time I could hardly write my own name. I was frozen, tight inside. Nothing worked, for over a year.

What was the most challenging part of writing Fall Girl?

The first draft was an absolute nightmare. Every day I forced myself to sit down and type out 1500 words of rubbish. Little beads of blood pooled on my forehead. It wasn't until the second draft that everything clicked and I was carried away by the fun of the story.

Grace is such an unforgettable character. How different from Grace is Della? What motivates her?

Della is very much a woman of our time--she is pulled in every direction. She feels the pressure of looking after her family, her career, her love life, all at once. Della has big issues to face. If she's not defined by her name, and she's not defined by her job, and she's not defined by her family or the house she lives--then who is she? I think many women today see themselves as a compilation of the roles they play. Della's search for her identity is what drives the whole book.

Which novel was harder to write? Why?

If I could just erase the pain of first draft of Fall Girl from my memory, they were both a joy.

Do you have any writing routines or rituals that help you with the process?

Yes--the secret to my success is Freedom for Mac. This fabulous fabulous program turns off your internet connection for a set period of time and won't turn it on again, even if you beg it. I'm evangelistic about it. Every writer should have it.

Have you begun work on novel number three?

Of course Lisa, you know how addictive writing is!


  1. Lovely? Of course I agree; being lucky enough to meet Toni at your launch. This is a nice piece that shows what a down to earth person she is. I hope the film gets that honest touch that many Aussie stories do (that leave the viewer a little more enriched for having seen it).

  2. Thanks for popping by and commenting Tony. I am SO looking forward to seeing Grace brought to life on the screen :)