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November 02, 2012
Vol. 54 No. 8

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Faculty's book gets big break on the silver screen

Tom Bailey
TOM BAILEY
Professor of English Tom Bailey is a successful writer whose 2005 novel, "The Grace That Keeps This World," will soon hit the big screen, starring James Franco and Glenn Close. According to Publishers Weekly's review of Bailey's book, it is about "fathers and sons, tough love and compassion, the bonds of community and the solace of belief." It goes on to give a brief synopsis of the book. "Gary and Susan Hazen are natives of Lost Lake, a hardscrabble town in Adirondacks, high school sweethearts who have raised their two sons on the satisfaction of living off the land... Both young men have secrets that will strain the family fabric, and together father and sons weave a tangle of intention and circumstance that will culminate in an act that will test their power to survive."

Bailey explained his inspiration for the book, saying: "When I had my first teaching job, I was teaching in upstate New York. I was going up the road one day to class and I heard a news report on the radio about how a father and son had gone deer hunting in upstate New York. The father was trying to shoot the deer but accidently shot the son. He then turned the gun on himself. This was the inspiration for the book because I found it so fascinating that there were other ways to deal with that situation but instead of doing any of them he just turned the gun on himself."

Matthew Aldrich, who has since written the screenplay for the movie, discovered Bailey's book from across the country in California. "Matt really loved the book and wrote me a letter," Bailey said. "Matt not only wanted to option it [into a movie] but write the screenplay adaption. I really like him, we hit it off."

While Bailey is thrilled to see his hard work and years of patience turn into a huge reward, he does find it hard to see his characters and creations handed over to other people. Bailey explained that sometimes while looking over the screenplay, he thinks to himself, "I don't think my character would say this." He said: "When you write a novel you basically do it by yourself. When you make a movie, there are so many people working together on it you have to give some of it up. My book is my book. This is a different animal."

While the book did very well when it first came out, Bailey is hoping when the movie is released it'll give "The Grace That Keeps This World" another life.

"Sometimes when you write books and nobody knows it's out there and reads it, it's like burying it. But people read it again and book clubs pick it up," Bailey said. "What I am excited to see is that, when you write a book like that, it takes years to develop and you're with those characters for a long time. I will be very gratified to see those characters come back to life where a lot more people will be able to see them."

While the movie version of "The Grace That Keeps This World" is still being casted, Bailey says production is moving quickly and they are hoping to start filming in December.

Bailey had some words of advice for his students and those interested in writing. "Writing a novel is a huge investment in time and these things don't always happen quickly. It's not always about immediate gratification. Sometimes you just have to wait for good things to happen."

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