I felt like the character that Burgess Meredith once played in an episode of The Twilight Zone. He was in a closed bank vault when the world ended because of a nuclear disaster, and when he came out, he was the last man on earth. In despair, he stumbled on to the steps of what once had been a public library. He saw all the books scattered about and collected them so that he would have something to read for the rest of his life. His despair gave way to great hope until his thick glasses fell from his face and cracked. Without his glasses, everything was a blur. He couldnt read a word.
Here I had finally found a publisher for my novel. I was going to achieve my dream. But I wouldnt be able to read a word of it.
I spoke to film director Brett Ratner and told him about my dilemma. Ratner had started a small publishing company called Rat Press, which had published several of my previous books. He asked to see the novel. I sent it to him, and he gave it to a reader in his production company, who read the manuscript and evaluated its commercial potential.
One of the comments the reader made said, Catch a Fallen Star is worthy of development and with a strong adaptation would certainly attract a lot of star talent. Under a header titled Script Evaluation, he wrote: Consider for development.
Except it wasnt a script. It was 557 manuscript pages. If Ratner wanted to make a movie out of it, great. But first it had to appear as a novel, the way it was going to appear in Poland. In Polish.
You should publish it, I said to Ratner. It wouldnt be the true first edition, but it would be the first edition in English.
Id have to read it first, he said.
When do you have time to read such a manuscript? I asked.
He replied: I dont.
For now, Im perfectly fine with it coming out in Poland. In Polish. Maybe at the next Frankfurt Book Fair itll interest publishers in France and Germany. And, who knows, it might just circle its way around the globe and wind up in the hands of an American publisher, who might say, How did this Hollywood novel slip by us?
And Ill light my pipe and say, I have no idea.