You need grit and determination – and nowadays, ideally, the potential for sequels – to get movies made.
The indefatigable Jason Cook turns up occasionally in this blog.
His new novel Euphoria – Pirates of the South – was published yesterday.
So, obviously, we had a chat.
Jason, who is dyslexic, has previously written four linked semi-autobiographical gangster novels:
– There’s No Room for Jugglers in my Circus
– The Gangster’s Runner
– A Nice Little Earner
– Cocaine: The Devil’s Dandruff
…plus a children’s book Rats in Space.
His latest book is not for children…
JASON: Euphoria – Pirates of the South is a book I wrote during the Covid lockdown last year.
JOHN: There’s semi-autobiographical stuff in it?
JASON: Well, there’s bits of autobiographical things I experienced in Borehamwood and South London…
JOHN: South London?
JASON: …thus the title Pirates of the South.
It’s about a young Indonesian girl who gets involved in an abusive relationship within a family environment but finds solace in the male-dominated music industry of the time. It’s set in the 1980s and 1990s – the Rave scene, the pirate radio scene – people finding a platform in their bedroom to catapault them within the music industry. Urban music wasn’t played on mainstream radio at the time. So people took risks to put the pirate stations together to create a platform for the music.
JOHN: It was originally conceived as a film?
JASON: Yes. Pirates of the South. It was planned about ten years ago with Mark Straker who has since, sadly, passed away. I continued to work on it as a book. The script had already been written by Lisa Strobl.
JOHN: You still plan to make it as a film?
JASON: Yes. Next year. Made by Djonny Chen’s Silent D Pictures. The idea is to have a well-known Indonesian actress in the central role.
JOHN: So the Pirates of the South film would get a release in Indonesia?
JASON: Yes, under the title Waiting For Sunrise.
JOHN: Why change the title over there?
JASON: If you call it Pirates of the South in Indonesia, people might expect some Johnny Depp type pirates to be in it.
JOHN: And you also have another film waiting on the blocks…
JASON: Yes. Silent D Pictures are interested in making Pirates of the South AND a film called Cookster, which is going to be the back story of my four gangster books.
JOHN: So the Cookster back story chronologically happens before the first of the four gangster books?
JASON: Yes. We got everyone together to talk about doing a film of the first book, directed by Peter Field. But he said there was something missing from the books – the story of how the Cookster became who he is in the first book. The Cookster film explains the back story.
JOHN: And The Cookster is…?
JASON: The Cookster is based on myself when I was young – a dyslexic teen misunderstood by his family, abandoned by the system and desperate for respect. Then he becomes a drug dealer and struggles to balance his addiction and his debt to local gangsters, driving him apart from the woman he loves and the boyhood he’s never known.
JOHN: And, of course, you’ve left that world now.
JASON: Yes. Yeah. I’ve left it all behind and moved on to better things now.
JOHN: So The Cookster movie would be a prequel to the four semi-autobiographical gangster novels…
JASON: Yes, with two unknown actors playing earlier versions of me. It starts with me aged about six, moves up to me at 17 and then There’s No Room For Jugglers in my Circus takes it from there.
JOHN: You’re going to do the film Cookster and simultaneously write the book of the movie?
JOHN: Who is going to play you in your prime in the movie?
JASON: An actor who’s just come off The Batman – Craige Middleburg. He’s very good.