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Film Option for Self Published Author

Article by Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin © 7 February 2013 .
Posted in the Magazine ( · News for Writers ).

Bought up in Howth, Helen Seymour is extremely well versed in print, design and the creative process – she spent 17 years working in advertising where she set up and ran several companies of her own. But it was this very understanding of the creative process and a very clear vision for her novel Beautiful Noise that led Helen to turn down a five figure deal from a very enthusiastic Harper Collins in order to self publish her book. Speaking on the John Murray Show on RTE Radio 1 she said,”They absolutely loved it, but as we were working on it, it became apparent that we had two very different creative visions for the book. I was familiar with being creatively challenged but I’ve always had a very strong gut feeling about this book. So I made the decision to self publish.”

Helen told John, “I always wanted to write, I loved writing. My English teacher Miss. Hogan entered us all for a Penguin Books writing competition in second year, and I came second, it was a nationwide competition. I’m left handed and I remember my hand shaking with the excitement of writing the story, which was quite a dark story…But I grew up in the 80’s in a recession, and you didn’t grow up thinking you were going to be  a writer. When I was 21 I went to work in an advertising agency, and was writing constantly… By the time I was 26 I was director of my own agency… By 30 I was starting to wonder what it was all about.

‘Between age 30 and 38 I started 3 books, and writing them was one thing, but finishing them was another. I started getting up at 5am to write, but I was running my own business and it kept dragging me away.” After a charity job fell through at the last minute Seymour made the decision to take 3 months out. She still didn’t think she could be a writer, but staying with a friend in Martha’s Vineyard, she said, “I did a writing course… and by day four I realised it’s what I wanted to do. So I rented my apartment and moved in with my Mother.” She got a job in a local restaurant, and in January 2007 started in earnest writing the book.

Despite being very comfortable in the image business, Seymour took a two day intensive course in self publishing in London and ensured that her book was professionally edited and proof read before its launch. Indeed, the final draft is 55,000 words shorter than the original manuscript, as Seymour said, “it has been rigourously edited.” Agented by Marianne Gunn O’Connor, the book caught the eye of John Moore, the Dundalk born director of ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ and the new ‘Die Hard’ film. Seymour said, “he got in touch and said, ‘I’m only on page 50 but I want to option this book’.” Coastguard Films, a production company owned by Moore has now optioned the film rights, with Moore to produce and Damien O’Donnell, who made ‘East is East’ and ‘Inside I’m Dancing’ to direct. The Irish Film Board have already given the project €25,000 in pre-production funding to pay Seymour to write the screenplay.

Set in Dublin in the 1980s Beautiful Noise tells the story of three pals and a pirate radio station – a world Bono, who launched the book, knows well from his days hanging out with RTE’s Dave Fanning at Big D Radio. Bono is a good friend of Seymour’s and read an early draft, “He was very interested in the story… he loved it, he gave me very positive feedback. He said ‘you know when you’re finished this book,  you miss these people.'”

This is the blurb:

Dublin. 1985. A war is raging between The Government, RTÉ and the 28 illegal pirate radio stations, who’ve taken control of the nation’s airwaves and the advertising revenue that goes with it,” reads the blurb.

“When a bus accident brings Elliott, Iris and Squirrel together, little do they realise the real journey has only just begun. It’s an unlikely partnership; the barrister’s son, the punk on the dole and a courier with big dreams. But within six months of meeting, Studio One goes live, takes on the big boys of radio, and less than a year after they first meet, Elliott, Iris and Squirrel are owners of the number one radio station in the country.”

“But not without consequences. Fact mirrors fiction in this debut novel, which is reflective of the real story of pirate radio in Ireland. At its heart, however, Beautiful Noise is a story about growing up, it’s about the first steps you take in the world as an adult, it’s about how different people and events shape and change your life. The underlying theme is communication – the power of good, the consequences of bad, how some people shoot from the hip but others struggle to say what they feel, and how messages get mixed or lost in the process.

For the moment, Seymour is still working as a waitress,  writing in every spare minute – but as she says, “I’m doing what I love.”

You can buy Beautiful Noise online here.