Lee Chambers is a screenwriter, producer, director and the author of #1 Bestselling Thriller ‘The Pineville Heist’ which hit #3 overall on the Amazon Best Sellers’ list. The book has also been optioned as a feature movie with Aaron Stevens to be played by Booboo Stewart of Twilight.
I recently spoke to Lee about this story so join me in hearing what he had to say.
When did you start as a writer?
A long time ago I started drafting a book about a Sheriff investigating a string of murders in Oklahoma. I didn’t have a lot of experience with crime scenes and had never even been to Oklahoma. It failed miserably. This could be because I was only ten years old.
Even at that age I was a natural storyteller. I had grand ambitions but I needed to grow into a mature writer and pass my English classes! I needed to learn some things first. So I keep a journal of ideas and Pineville is actually drawn from those earlier experiences.
How has your career led you to this point?
For me, I love telling stories and I shifted to telling stories on film, with actors, props and unique shooting locations. After more than a dozen short films under my belt, some made with support from Academy Award winners, I decided it was time I tackled a longer format.
Can you tell us a little about how you turn a screenplay into a novel, it’s usually the other way round?
It is quite an unusual process. My book is based on my award-winning screenplay of the same name. I developed the plot and characters on my own, then completed the screenplay with Todd Gordon from Boston. This process took two years. Because finding millions of dollars for a movie takes years, I decided to turn the screenplay into novel format so that I could share the story with people. The general public doesn’t read screenplays. It’s just a blueprint to build a film and most of the emotional and descriptive stuff isn’t included. Crafting the book version took another 8 months. It allowed me to explore the setting and characters in more detail. Also, it becomes a nice companion piece when we start making the film. It will give actors more insight into what the heart of each character is all about.
The Pineville Heist is your first book, can you tell us a little about it?
It’s a thriller about a twelfth grade high school student who witnesses a murder, ends up with bags of stolen bank money and is then hunted down inside his school. It’s about greed and, more importantly, it’s about a young boy’s journey to becoming a man.
Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
The story came from hiding under a canoe while I was a kid playing hide and seek. I could see them but they couldn’t see me. I watched and waited for them to leave. I wrote this down as a ten year old and then years later built up a longer tale.
Did you plot this book before you started or start with an idea and let the characters write their own story?
There is a mix of the two. The characters drive the story and the story drives the characters. Each serves the other. We need to believe the jeopardy the hero faces and cheer them on. So you create this world. Eventually you have to go back and fix plot holes so that the reader is engaged in the action and not questioning the motives.
What can you tell us about the journey to publication for The Pineville Heist?
The Pineville Heist is my first novel so I moved into a new world. My only experience of exposing my creativity to the world comes through writing and directing short films.The first hurdle was my perception over e-publishing idea. I like paper! Then last April the eBook shot up the Amazon charts to #3 overall. For a while I was sandwiched between The Hunger Games books and I sold more books in the paid store in a day than I did in the previous six months. It’s exciting and I love interacting with fans.
Unlike a thick book that is filled with stuff that never makes the movie version The Pineville Heist is a trim 40,000+ words, based entirely on the screenplay. The critique process was quite rigorous. I used six screen and story editors to guide the character and plot points for the screenplay. The editors ranged from established movie producers to a former senior Vice President of Production at Universal Pictures. Like most authors I have lots of rejection letters. You can either get depressed and quit or launch forward. I launched forward. I am glad I did because there are tons of fans that just love the characters and the story.
The book has already been optioned to be filmed, what role will you play in the making of the movie?
The Pineville Heist was carefully crafted to be my break into directing feature films. I am working with an established film producer in Toronto and we are in financing right now. My role includes co-writing the screenplay and producing too. The beauty of it is I can make a movie that closely resembles the book.
I read that Twilight werewolf Booboo Stewart has been cast already, have any of the other roles been cast?
It’s exciting to have Booboo on board. He’s been a supporter even before the book came out and his fans are keen to see him take on this edgy role. Other actors? Not yet. Until we decide on shooting dates there’s no point in casting the other characters. I look forward to that process.
Is Pineville Heist a stand one or part of a series?
It started as a stand-alone story but I have a growing fan base that wants to see more adventures of the young Aaron Stevens. Hmmm… tempting, as to me he’s a real person now.
Is there anything new you are working on that you can share with us?
I enjoyed the screenplay conversion process at lot. So I turned another mystery screenplay into a book and released it this summer. It’s called The Sum of Random Chance. Beyond that, I just want to get onto making The Pineville Heist into a movie!
To learn more about the book, click here: http://t.co/oD37ly0R
Watch the wicked Hollywood-style teaser trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsdjZz5fStw
You can keep up to date at www.pinevilleheist.com or by following @pinevilleheist on TWITTER.
Thanks for your time Lee and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together on the big screen.