BOOKTHINK: It would have been hard to capture the entire book in a movie. It might have to be a 3-part mini-series or something similar in format, don't you think?
QUIGLEY: At one time they tried to make a mini-series, and it was Warner Brothers, I think, who stopped them. I would not be opposed to it being a mini-series.
Motion picture rights have recently been optioned on one of his earlier books, Say it with Bullets, the last mystery he wrote. It was republished by Dorchester Books in March of 2006 as part of its Hard Case Crime series. I got a call from a screenwriter while I was in Florida last March who wanted to do the movie. He's got the screenplay done, and he's optioned it, but I don't know when it's going to go into production, although I think they hired a director just last week.
Shell Game and A Shot in the Dark are scheduled to be republished by Starkhouse Press next May.
The Soldier is another book that would make a phenomenal movie. It was optioned, but the option was dropped. I need to get it to somebody. And the book I Take this Land was optioned by a man name Mel Tillis in the 1980s. He had his own film company. It's all about the development of southwest Florida, and it's one of the best books my father wrote. He said it was probably dropped because of lack of money for production. In the 1980s the economy was not doing well.
BOOKTHINK: There have been a lot of books and movies about Philadelphia or set in Philadelphia over the years. What is it about Philadelphia that sets it apart?
QUIGLEY: I'll tell you, the Philadelphia Film Association here does a lot. It's a really big thing. Philadelphia is the second largest place for filmaking.
Philadelphia Film Company is sponsoring a contest - and for this I don't know whether I have to do a whole screenplay or a synopsis of the book - but they are going to select a book about Philadelphia, produce scenes from it, and market it to the big film companies. I need to find somebody good to write the screenplay.
I'm going to work on the first 5 mysteries - the Arab and Andy series. I'm also having a synopsis done on I Take This Land. My father did a 50-page synopsis once. I've had someone who rewrite it and cut it down to 30 pages to send out.
BOOKTHINK: You are an energetic woman. Is this something that struck you recently - this desire to promote your father's work?
QUIGLEY: It's interesting, and it's fun. Unfortunately, I didn't do it while he was alive - if only he was alive to see it. After he died, I started to go through some of his work and felt compelled to do something with it. Then Charles Ardai from Hard Case Crime called me and wanted to re-publish Say It With Bullets, and I thought, if Say It With Bullets can be republished, so can The Philadelphian.
BOOKTHINK: I really got a kick out of the your father's speech in the front of The Philadelphian, where he talks quite candidly about the personalities of other major American cities.
QUIGLEY: Let me ask you, what did you think of that?
BOOKTHINK: I thought he was right on, and I found it very amusing.
QUIGLEY: I had given the publisher a stack of everything I could find on The Philadelphian. Last summer he called me and asked me if he could put that speech in the front of the book. I hadn't even read it. I took it down to the beach with 3 of my friends and said, "I want you to read this and tell me if you think it should go in the front of the book." I wasn't sure; I was afraid it might turn somebody off.
BOOKTHINK: That's always a possibility, but if people don't have a sense of humor - well that's their loss.
QUIGLEY: That was what I thought. My friends all said they thought it should be included.
BOOKTHINK: I think it was a smart idea, because it just tickles me to no end, and I thought it was pretty darn accurate. I've been in most of those cities.
QUIGLEY: Well, it's funny because in some of the publicity articles he wrote for I Take This Land, he calls it right down the line on what eventually happened to Florida, right from when they started development in the 1800s. It's so interesting that I include with the prospectus I send out.
BOOKTHINK: I recently enjoyed reading Tickets to the Devil. Was your dad a big bridge player?
QUIGLEY: He wrote that book when he retired and moved to Florida. Actually, he wrote seven books in Florida, and yes, he played duplicate bridge. He was good, a Life Master in one year. One night I said, "Dad, teach me how to play bridge." He dealt out four hands as we sat at the dining room table and told me what each hand would have in it. I said, "Dad, how do you know?" After working at it for about 40 minutes, I had had enough!
Don Quixote, U.S.A. was another book he wrote in Florida. I'm not sure where that one came from.
BOOKTHINK: I wanted to ask you about that book because I haven't read it or even seen a copy. I did read a review on a website. It sounds like a fun book, kind of a send-up on the Peace Corps, isn't it?
QUIGLEY: It's a terrific book, but it's very hard to find and expensive. I finally did just get a paperback of it. You know, he would be thrilled if he knew I was collecting these things.
Don Quixote, U.S.A. was made into a movie by Woody Allen - Bananas.
BOOKTHINK: You're kidding - that was Bananas?
QUIGLEY: It was, but it wasn't. Woody Allen bought the rights to it because he wanted to use my dad's characters, and also my dad's British publishers had put a big banana on the cover. Woody Allen did not use the story. Bananas is not anything like the book.
I was there when the phone call came in from Woody Allen, and I remember he told my Dad he was not giving him screen rights. It was not a smart move on my father's part because if his name had been on the screen people would have been asking about his other books as well. I don't think he really thought it through at the time.
You know, he never thought his mysteries would be worth anything, although he did make sure my brother and I had the rights to them. He was very modest, and he was thrilled at what happened to him during his life.
He had four movie sales. The first was The Build Up Boys, which was written under his pen name, Jeremy Kirk and made into a movie called Madison Avenue.
And other book that was terrific was Whom the Gods will Destroy. He went to Greece to write it. It is so full of history. Several colleges later wanted it, but the publisher wouldn't reissue it. Dad went to Hodder & Stoughton, who had published it in England, and they had some copies available. He purchased them and sent them to the schools. If you see that one at a reasonable price, grab it, because there aren't many of them around. [MEDIA EDITOR'S NOTE: At the time of this writing, there are a few copies going for $50-$80 on BookFinder].
BOOKTHINK: How many brothers and sisters do you have?
QUIGLEY: One brother. And he thinks I'm nuts!
BOOKTHINK: Because you are doing all of this?
QUIGLEY: Yes, but when I sent him a copy of The Philadelphian, he did say "Congratulations, good job."
BOOKTHINK: Well, it's risk-taking, and it takes some guts.
QUIGLEY: I just think it needs to be done. After my mother died, I asked him "Daddy, why don't you write another book?" He said there is so much trash coming out now, I'd rather not do that kind of writing; I don't like to use profanity, and it's just gone too far." At that time - it's gotten a little better now - but if you think about it, 10 or 15 years ago, there was a lot of trash being published.
BOOKTHINK: I think many of our writers were more literate in his generation, and they worked harder at their craft.
It has been so interesting talking with you. I hope that there is a strong resurgence of interest in your father's books, and I wish you continued success in getting his books re-published and made into movies.
Don't Catch Me, Simon and Schuster, NY, 1944
The Build Up Boys (pseudonym Jeremy Kirk), Charles Scribner's Sons, NY, 1956
The Build Up Boys adapted as Madison Avenue, starring Dana Andrews.
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