Q: How did you come up with the concept of the Cinematic book or cBook?
Nick: When I was writing the original screenplay for the film Monsoon Tide and especially when I was discussing the back stories of the characters with the actors, I started to wonder if there was a way to convey additional background in a different way. I had a bit of a eureka moment when I realised that e book technology could make combining a book and film a possibility.
Q: Did you start work on the cBook at the same time?
Nick: No, I sort of parked the idea and completed the film. After the film was finished I kept going back to the cBook idea and wondering if it could work.
Q: Nick, you wrote the original screenplay but you did not write the cBook chapters. Why not?
Nick: As the script editor and one of the film’s producers, Elsa had been involved in the story from the beginning and she has always written both fiction and non-fiction. I trusted her to keep to the essence of the story but I was also really interested in how she could take the new product into a different direction. She added her own imagined events, back stories and motivations which gave Monsoon Tide the cBook a fresh perspective, while still keeping the flavour of the original story.
Q: Elsa, how was the process for you?
Elsa: Once Nick and I had decided which scenes to keep from the original film, my task was to write the chapters in between. These needed to convey the missing parts of the story, bring in additional background information and most importantly, reveal the characters’ innermost thoughts and motivations.
I looked at the film and asked myself a series of questions. For example, what was it like for Kate as an unmarried mother in India? What happened immediately after her death? I wrote a chapter and then Nick would review and give feedback and suggestions. It worked really well as, for the most part, he liked where I had taken the story.
Q: There were no artistic differences?
Elsa: Not really. He just added few tweaks to perhaps change some dialogue or suggest a few minor changes.
Q: Turning to the Monsoon Tide story itself, what inspired you to write it?
Nick: My travels to India and various people I have met in my life have inspired some of the characters and locations. The theme of the book was certainly inspired by watching ashes being cast on the Ganges and contemplating the eternal cycle of life and death, with loved ones living on in the hearts of those who are left behind. With regard to literary inspirations, Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca has always been a favourite book of mine and there are definitely some parallels between the two stories.
Elsa: Obviously the original screenplay was the basis for the narrative and I imagined the rest! I also drew on my experience of visiting India – watching Keralan fishermen, visiting an elephant sanctuary and other everyday observations to try and add local colour and authenticity to the book.
Q: Elsa, you decided to tell each chapter from a different character’s point of view. Why do this?
Elsa: It is sometimes difficult is to really get under the skin and understand the motivations of the characters in films. By writing the chapters from the point of view of the main players, I had the opportunity to do this. The three main characters tell the story from their point of view in a number of chapters but I also decided to dedicate one chapter each to the three secondary characters. I thought it would be interesting, for example, to reveal why the police officer Raj Singh was so relentless in his pursuit of Charles.
Q: The cBook is a completely new way to experience a story. What has been the feedback so far?
Nick: Really positive! People like the fact that you read and then are rewarded with a visual treat after a few pages. We hope that our readers/audience feel as if they are getting the best of both worlds. Most surprising to us was the positive feedback from teachers who love the idea and feel that the cBook is a great way to tempt reluctant readers into literature.
Q: Finally, do you intend to create more cBooks in the future?
Elsa: If Monsoon Tide is successful then we will definitely continue making cBooks. We have one script – “The Legend of the Snow” – which is at final draft stage, and a couple of other projects in development.