Book To Film
I suppose I have to begin my story by telling you how passionate I am about Cassandra’s Castle. I had already written the Ian’s Realm Trilogy, a nicely packaged saga that could have been the beginning and the end. I don’t know how other fantasy series writers feel about their world, but I honestly didn’t want to leave mine. I left a lot of doors open for sequels, including giving the MC (Ian) a daughter. So by the time I was ready to draft Cassandra’s Castle, I knew who was going back through the portal into the Realm. What I didn’t know was her story.
About the same time I was pondering on the premise, I was also helping a good friend uncover a mystery about her ancestors. She had a grandfather who was supposedly related to royalty in Portugal. I found his story completely mesmerizing and if my friend was not a writer also, I would have begged to tell his story. Still, the detective in me dug through data to find his roots, and besides helping my friend know a little more about her grandfather, and painting a very stirring oil portrait for her, I unveiled the inspiration to Cassandra’s Castle.
Manuel II of Portugal. The last king, crowned at the mere age of 18 in the year 1908 after his father and older brother were brutally and publically assassinated, then forced to live in exile three years later.
Manuel's story left a deep impression on me. Martim, the hero in Cassandra’s Castle, would be the protégé of Manuel II. Not a historical novel by any means. I was not qualified to write a biography of Manuel II. I didn’t want to. My desire was to take the novel beyond history. I wanted to right the wrongs that were done to this young man. There was only one way to do that. The story would be a historical fantasy.
The first ‘life’ that came to the book was when I was writing a very important sword battle between the villain and Martim. I knew nothing about sword fighting. Coincidence happened while walking with my husband one day. He saw a sign on a billboard that I had never seen before. “Fencing lessons”. I had always wanted to learn how to wield a sword. I have a collected a few blades and am quite fond of them.
I pursued this lead, met coach Tom Martin of Kitsap Fencing Center and asked if he would like to help me with the battle in my story. He loved the idea and he had experience in stage combat. We met, discussed the characters, their motives, their back stories, their strengths and weaknesses and came up with some good passages of written combat. Of course, I signed up for lessons and have been fencing ever since.
From there everything snowballed. The videographer who helped me with The Dragon Shield Trailer (Book 2 of the series) consented to film my book trailer for Cassandra’s Castle. Friends were contacted, roles assigned and we came up with a short video for the book. So excited were we about making that trailer that we decided to do a movie, and it’s been escalating ever since.
Now instead of just a few friends playing, there’s a cast of some of Seattle’s most talented actors. Tom has been working on choreography for the duel with the main characters, seamstresses are designing costumes, scouts are preparing locations, and our preproduction is running smoothly. We are currently in the process of raising money to film a pilot, as we’ve chosen to make Cassandra’s Castle a miniseries. To see our progress please visit my website http://gardnersart.com
Dianne Lynn Gardner is an author, illustrator and filmmaker living in the Pacific Northwest. Known for her Ian's Realm Saga, a dystopia novel and her more recent underwater fantasy Pouraka.