TV success for crime thriller series

The tortuous passage to the holy grail for crime fiction authors has many stages, from writing THE END through to seeing their work in a bookshop or a library shelf, but for most the final step is when some sparky, bright-eyed creative film maker picks up on the story and decides to turn print into moving images.
Hundreds of thousands of books are self-published and published each year; a minute number will be read by potential film makers. If they like it, the next stage will be an ‘option’ and that means hard cash for the author and their agent, if they have one.
My friend Mark Wright – MP Wright in the literary world – author of the J. T. Ellington crime thriller series, has had his debut crime thriller, Heartman, optioned six years ago. Plans fell by the wayside, even after a top scriptwriter took it on board. In 2020 there have been some seismic changes worldwide, and Heartman is back in headlights.
A brief background. Joseph Tremaine Ellington is a black immigrant from Barbados; it’s the 1960s and he’s landed in Bristol. Our hero wades flat-footed into the worst kind of systemic racism. Historically, in the real world, this actually exploded when a West Indian applied for a job on the city’s buses and was refused simply because he was black. That was history forming a basis for fiction … and it’s happened again.
Heartman, nominated for the Crime Writers Association Ian Fleming Silver Sterling Dagger Award, has been followed by All Through The Night, Restless Coffins and A Sinner’s Prayer. Racism runs deeply through each book but scratch the surface and the reader is embroiled in the culture of family, friendship and togetherness, as well as the criminal elements, that those ghetto-like living conditions fostered.
Towards the end of May this year a policeman in America viciously killed George Floyd by callously kneeling on his neck. The result was not just the creation of an innocent black martyr; Floyd’s killing was a match thrown into a global box of tinder and incendiary bombs – the result was Black Lives Matter. The J T Ellington series of books was thrust into the limelight again. Inadvertently, whilst demonstrating his own abhorrence of racism of any kind, Mark Wright has captured the Zeitgeist.
The series is now in the hands of respected producer, Josh Wilson of Wilson Worldwide Productions. We aren’t talking Heartman; we are looking at the entire four-book series.
It’s not been easy for Mark. He’s white and Leicestershire born and bred, but his professional career has involved some of the least savoury aspects of life. His experiences have been transposed into flowing, exciting prose. Some will say Mark’s been lucky – as he does – but the truth is that those books took a lifetime of graft. His heart and soul goes into his work, he fashions a phrase, a sentence, a chapter and a plot to excite and enthral. Money, whilst it’s important, is not his raison d’etre. In my experience that is the same for every author. If we set out to make a comfortable living from our writing, few of us would have chosen life as a novelist.
It’s a trite, overused phrase, but: Watch this space!
• I met Mark in 2014. He was launching Heartman and I was wondering how a book launch should be held as my self-published debut novel, First Dead Body, was due to be launched in a few weeks. Afterwards we corresponded, met up over a beer, and he offered to let me read the final draft of his next book, All Through The Night, before it went to his editor. I am now honoured to be his beta-reader. My semicolon-obsessed, word ‘then’-hating eyes, now peruse all his work offering ‘red-pens’ of grammar and literals and, hopefully, allowing the author’s creative juices to flow that more fluently.

One thought on “TV success for crime thriller series”

  1. Well done Richard as you know it’s hard work being a writer but also chooseing a subject that is so dear to people’s heart
    That being BLM Mark has captured this with JTEllington four books
    Congratulations to all who have made this happen

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