Photo: John Ryan
Irish Author Alan Glynn, whose novel The Dark Fields gets the Hollywood treatment in the film Limitless out this Friday, 25th March, talks to Geoff McEvoy.
Could you tell us about the origins of the novel, The Dark Fields.
It started with a classic ‘What if…’ At the time before I wrote the book there was a lot in the ether about performance enhancing drugs in sport and I thought ‘what if there were performance enhancing drugs for businessmen, politicians, lawyers, writers.’ It started from there and then got into the classic American theme – the reinvention of the self. So it’s like a part of the culture you can be whoever you want to be, whatever you want to be… so imagine if that was reduced to a single pill – a commodity. It’s kind of a cynical idea in a way, but I wanted to explore that. In the 10 years since I wrote the book, pharmaceuticals and designer drugs with that aim – performing enhancing, for cognition, for memory has exploded. It’s a huge industry now. The drug I’ve invented is a bit further down the road! But it’s an extrapolation of what’s actually happening.
The book also says alot about our modern day information overload…
Just the fact of surviving in the choppy seas of all this information. I feel overwhelmed everyday by the amount of stuff I’m supposed to read and watch and intake and listen to. If you did have a way to navigate that and take it all in at such a rate would be amazing. But that’s not the case. I certainly feel lost in the information ocean that we’re all kind f U-boating around.
How do you feel about the movie version of your work?
I think they’ve done it well. It’s a very fast movie. It’s edited right down to the bone. It hits all the themes of the book. It’s very faithful to the book and replicates it in a lot of ways… the sense of the character spinning out of control is visually represented very well. There are some differences, which is to be expected. The ending of the book is quite noir, is very dark. It’s not really something you could see in a big Hollywood film. But as a whole it carries the spirit of the book.
Was there anything you were precious about… that you weren’t happy with?
I realised it’s my book; it’s they’re movie, so you accept it. I was precious about the title but I got used to it. I took it from the last line of The Great Gatsby, which speaks about the themes of the book – so it seemed important to me but the marketing department thought otherwise; but I got over it pretty quickly! If there had been major changes, which I felt didn’t work or completely contradicted what I was trying to do, I wouldn’t have liked that. But luckily it hasn’t been like that. I’ve been in touch the whole time with Leslie Dixon [the screenwriter/producer] and while it’s her work she was very respectful of what I would think, and we’re kind of on the same wavelength in a lot of ways.
How did it feel to have your first published novel?
It’s amazing I was 42 when it was published and I’d been writing since I was 7! It’s a long slog of perserverence. I’d written 3 that weren’t published before. You finish one you start another you try not to go insane. I never give up and it happened but it certainly didn’t happen overnight.
Limitless opens in cinemas nationwide on 25th March.
Alan Glynn’s new novel Bloodlines is due to be released in September 2011.