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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Shedding Light on the Valley

Writing about Greg Hoblit's supernatural chase thriller The Fallen for her Cats on Film blog, Anne Billson got in touch to clarify a point.

Apparently some of the Amazon reviewers of my 1987 novel Valley of Lights contend that it owes something to Jack Sholder's movie The Hidden. In Valley of Lights, a Phoenix police sergeant is targeted by an ageless, amoral body-hopping entity that has been living on the fringes of society for so long that it can't even remember its own origin. It's not a great life; it's an eternity of lying low, until threatened by discovery.

I wrote the book in '85 and in July '86 it was optioned by AWGO (Anciano Wyn-Griffith Orme), a newly-formed UK company with Hollywood feature ambitions. In October '86 director Stuart Orme went over and showed the script to New Line's Robert Shaye in the hope of getting New Line to back it. Shaye didn't say no right away. In '87 the book came out in hardcover, and in July the guys were confident enough to take me over to scout locations in Arizona and take some meetings in LA. I kept a diary of that trip which is included in the 'Telos Classic' edition of the novel. We interviewed casting directors as a step toward attaching a lead: Ed Harris was top of our wishlist, I recall, and William Hurt was on it as well.

New Line finally said no. The guys were talking to other backers as well, but when New Line released The Hidden in October '87 our movie was dead. We didn't know it right away, but it was.

Did The Hidden rip us off? It's hardly likely. But does Valley owe anything to The Hidden? Not a thing. It was out first.

Anne's blog post is here. I like The Hidden. It's a fun movie. I've never seen Fallen.


Conrad said...

Valley of Lights is a tremendous novel. I remember being knocked out when I read it as a teenager. Short, sharp and scary as hell.

AFGreenwood said...

quick question:
I obviously have Valley of lights in the presumably valueless signed hardback Lancastria Bindings edition (arranged by Laurence?) so I don't want to buy it again. I notice that the Kindle edition is only £2 so I would consider that if it is the version with the film notes in it. Amazon doesn't let me preview an index on this version, but it does mention Brooligan Press. the preview of the Telos Classic you link to warns that it is a preview of an old edition.
So, is the kindle version the full one?

Stephen Gallagher said...

Oh I dunno... I can imagine some future obsessive geek billionaire making Lancastria-bound editions his area of unique expertise.

(For the uninitiated, a Lancastria sticker in a book indicates that it was specially bound for library use by Askews of Preston, often from sheets sourced direct from the publisher. Their bindings are way more heavy-duty than is standard but, to a collector, they're on a par with book club editions)

The extra Valley of Lights material was put together specifically for the Telos edition - for the moment it's exclusive to Telos in deference to their investment, but I don't rule out making it more widely available before too long.