The Godfather: Peter Corris on his El Dorado
I got a phone call from my agent. This was unusual. Usually she emails me along these lines:
‘Dear Peter (we like to observe the formalities. ‘I’ve just processed a royalty from a set of your e-books. I’m sorry it’s so little but …’
I’ll reply thanking her and telling her that it’d pay a bill or two. But a phone call …
‘Peter,’ she said, sounding excited. ‘Your ship has come in.’
I didn’t know I had a vessel at sea. ‘What’s her name, the Marie Celeste?’
‘Very funny. I mean that I’ve had a contact from a film producer …’
‘Hold on,’ I said, ‘is this one of those producers who wants an option for peanuts but swears he can get Mel Gibson on board if we can kick in for his expenses …?’
‘Mel’s too old for Cliff,’ she said. ‘No, this is Randy Frost, who produced three films in the Blackout franchise and Blood in the Water.’
‘Never heard of them or him.’
‘Where have you been? He called from Hollywood. He’s got HBO and Google money. He’s offering five million for the rights to Hardy and he’s interested in a couple of the Browning books and one of the historical novels and his nephew Clint, who’s a documentary maker, wants to do a true crime thing for the History Channel about your book on Mad Dog Moxley* and …’
This is a daydream of course, but it indicates a certain disappointment I sometimes feel about my writing career. Wouldn’t it have been nice to get Cliff Hardy up on screen a few times? With Cate Blanchett in a cameo (all that could be afforded) as a femme fatale. To have made a rip-snorting Australian Western out of my novel Wimmera Gold (1994) with Anthony Mundine as a bare-knuckle prize-fighter and Hugo Weaving as a villain. To have captured the darkness of William Cyril Moxley and Depression-era Sydney on grainy black and white film?
It wasn’t to be: the local market is too small, there is too little money around, foreign competition is too great and my books have failed to achieve much international penetration.
I hasten to say that I’m not really complaining: to have made a living from writing for 40 years, to have never, as I not entirely playfully put it, had to go out to work for all that time and to have enjoyed writing, has been a boon and a privilege. But still …
* Mad Dog: William Cyril Moxley and the Moorebank Killings (2012)