One day I will write an account about the adaption of Jellicoe. It’s been one of the longest times I’ve spent on one project. My first novel (Alibrandi) took about six years to write. Most of my other novels took 18 months. The film script of Jellicoe has taken technically five years. In working that out, it has surprised me that I was able to write Finnikin, The Piper’s Son, Froi and Quintana during that time (I miss those Lumaterans and Charynites).
It’s strange to speak about the script and say it’s so different from the novel. Because it’s still about Taylor Markham who is left behind on the Jellicoe Road when she’s 11 years old. It’s still about her being chosen to lead the Boarders in the territory wars against the Cadets and Townies. It’s still about the history Taylor has with Jonah Griggs, the leader of the Cadets. It’s still about a journal that reveals a story about five kids in the past. It’s still about the absence of Hannah, the arrival of the Brigadier, the threat of Taylor being usurped by her own.
But it’s the telling of the story that is absolutely completely different. Most scenes are new. Most of the dialogue is new. It’s not quite like fan fiction, but adaptation is strange in that it lets you write the same story again but with a different emphasis.
I know there is a quiet, excited buzz about the project out there, and there are things I would love to reveal to you, but can’t. Still early days, believe it or not, after all this time. But I thought I’d give you a list of ten things that I can reveal about the script.
- My favourite line that doesn’t come from the novel is: My dad says ghosts only reveal themselves when they’re waiting for someone to join them.
- My favourite line in the script from the novel is: You’re wearing flanalette. How scared should I be?
- The film doesn’t begin with the car accident, but a scene just as heartbreaking.
- Ben has the funniest lines. (Ben may be the person we cast first)
- My favourite scenes to write involved Taylor and Jonah. I also loved the Taylor and Jessa scenes.
- My favourite character of the script is Raffaela.
- The most heartbreaking scene (and there are many) is no different to the novel. It involves Fitz (who will be the hardest to cast).
- The most profound change is that the Hermit belongs to the present day.
- The flowers on the Jellicoe Road are still poppies.
- Tate still has a Pat Benetar hair cut when she’s 17. (I’m presuming that only people my age will understand how cool a Pat Benetar hair cut is. My hairdresser refuses to give in to me because she says I don’t have the hair for it.)