Anthony Trollope is one of my favorite writers, and I wanted the challenge of adapting one of his novels. Especially in his bicentennial year.
For one thing, I’ve never written a period piece and wanted that experience. Also, since I’ve written crime novels in the past I specifically looked for one that featured crime. My first choice would have been The Eustace Diamonds because it not only involves crime but also has a great female character, Lizzie Greystock. If you haven’t read it, please do. It has one of the best opening lines ever: “It was admitted by all her friends, and also by her enemies,–who were in truth the more numerous and active body of the two,–that Lizzie Greystock had done very well with herself.” But it has already been adapted for television. Twice.
Orley Farm impressed me when I read it, and it definitely had a crime theme as well as another great female character in Lady Mason. I wanted a challenge, and I got it. Since the novel was originally serialized, there was much repetition. I write big and then go smaller, and I spent many drafts deleting and honing. However, perhaps the biggest problem I faced was continuity issues. Trollope’s timeline didn’t work for the adaptation, so I needed to play around with several scenes, moving them around until the story flowed.
Trollope didn’t make many mistakes, but I found a key plot point that was never explained. (Hint: it involves Lady Mason, Miriam Dockwrath, and her father, Mr. Usbech). Rather than leave it a loose end, I wrote a scene that provides an explanation.
Orley Farm was Trollope’s favorite work, though he considered it flawed. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and hope you like the adaptation. I also hope that someone likes it enough to option or purchase it.
Michael Williamson, Chairman of London’s Trollope Society, graciously agreed to read the script and then offered the support of the Trollope Society. I am grateful to Mr. Williamson and the Society. I’m also grateful to the Goodreads book club who read Orley Farm with me and provided interesting insights. I learned a lot.
I envision the adaptation as a teleplay that will be divided into six to seven episodes. The attached PDF (424 pages) is the entire adaptation. It is registered with the WGA West Registry, and I reserve all rights.