To demonstrate what a crazy dreamer I am, this story:
When I was a preteen/teen, I had the usual crushes on bands. Music wasn’t my main attraction. It was their look. So what’s not to like about a band whose members dress up in 18th century costumes? Yes, I was a Paul Revere and the Raiders fan. Don’t hate me.
During that time, I cherished this daydream: The Raiders would be on tour. They’d stop in Baltimore for a performance. They’d decide to take in the sights while there. They’d drive out to my suburb and get lost. On my street. And their car would break down. In front of my house.
That never happened — God loves me — but it does show what a cockeyed optimist I could be, how outlandish my hopes could be, how far my overactive imagination would take me.
As I grew older, I could see quite clearly that no band would likely land on my street while touring the Baltimore area. I lived in a suburb where the most interesting sight might be the new drugstore (open on Sundays!) at the top of a hill.
If I became more practical, I still couldn’t shake some of that wild optimism, which often manifested itself in a simple question, whispering in my mind: Why not?
Why not give that idea of mine a try? Why not become a writer? Why not try to get my novels published? Why not try to grab attention for one of them that I thought would be great movie material?
Even crazy optimists have to overcome inner fears, so it took a while before I did end up becoming a writer, getting novels published, and…landing a film deal for my humorous women’s fiction book Fire Me. And the road to that deal is probably as circuitous as the one that would have deposited band members on my doorstep oh so many years ago.
Fire Me was the “options clause” book in a contract I had with Harlequin. Their Red Dress Ink imprint published my first adult novel, Loves Me, Loves Me Not, and, like most book contracts, my deal with them specified they had the exclusive option to buy the next similar novel I would pen.
That novel was the story of Anne Wyatt, who goes into work one day intending to hand in her resignation but changes course when she learns her boss will lay off someone by the end of the day. So she tries instead to earn a Worst Employee of the Year award in order to snag the generous severance package that goes with a layoff.
My terrific Harlequin editor looked over my proposal and suggested changes, which I made. I submitted it again. And it was rejected. Unbeknownst to me, the Red Dress Ink imprint was shutting down. (I’m grateful for her suggestions, though, which enhanced the story.)
By now, I was moving on to other writing projects, but I couldn’t give up on the idea of this book, which I believed held great appeal. Between agents, I posted its rights were available on an industry subscription website, Publishers Marketplace.
Within a short time, I had a call. From a Hollywood agent. She asked if the property was still available. Why, yes, it was.
And the rest is history. Well, ten years of history. That woman believed in this project as fiercely as I did, so when she left the agency, she kept in touch with me. She shopped Fire Me around, and found a home for it at a respected production company. After that company’s option ran out, interest sprang up from another, and the book ultimately ended up at Twentieth Century Fox.
Options give companies the exclusive right to consider a project for film. They don’t guarantee a film. Last year, however, Fox bought the film rights outright, one step closer to actual production (not there yet!).
As to the book itself, Sourcebooks bought its rights and published it in 2009. Book rights reverted to me, though, this year. So I’m releasing it again, after an update and revision, this spring, excited to have it on the book market once more.
Paul Revere and the Raiders never came to my door, but I feel blessed, nonetheless, for preserving the crazy dreaminess of that preteen girl who could envision such a wild idea happening. Now I’m using that same sense of optimism to guide me through this new release of Fire Me, hoping it finds new readers who are amused and moved by Anne’s tale, which is ultimately a story of a woman finding her own dream and asking: Why not?
Fire Me by Libby Malin will be released on Kindle this spring, in paperback this summer.