Episode 36: On Books To Screen, Story Pitching & Expanding Representation in Art with Elaine Sturgess (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 36: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Author and BooksOffice Founder Elaine Sturgess. You'll learn ...
Watch Elaine Sturgess' Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio only version.
About Elaine Sturgess
Elaine Sturgess is a British born author who spent thirty years in marketing and media before writing her first book Gin And It. The novel, a mystery, a love story and a comedy is dedicated to the memory of her partner, Maria and like her, it's racy, funny, tender and wicked.
Loss and grief changed Elaine's life, she left behind her previous career and home to become a full time writer and film maker - because it's never too late to realise your dreams...
BooksOffice has been created to find the best stories out there in a new way that shines a light on hidden and new talent with a mix of industry curation and audience participation – our system helps you present your story in a unique way for our entertainment professionals – and also opens up the chance for readers and viewers to help uncover future screen gems and decide what they want to see.
It’s a level playing field for traditionally, Indie and self-published authors and a new platform for unheard voices. On BooksOffice, it’s not about how many books you’ve sold, it’s about how good your story is.
Elaine Sturgess Podcast Interview Excerpt
Carly: This interview is a little bit different. You are not a horse book writer, but you do have some cool equestrian skills in your background. Do you want to share a little story about how horses crossed over into your life?
Elaine: It was kind of a an interesting and quite unexpected scenario because I used to run a little marketing consultancy. I lived in a village in a 300 year old house in a little place in Oxfordshire and one day a guy wandered into the office and started telling us that he had a project that he wanted some help with.
It turned out that he was the Event Director for the Windsor International Horse Trials, which is an event that is run by Princess Anne and he wanted us to handle their marketing, so we were kind of thrown headlong into understanding and finding out about three-day eventing.
Carly: You got to meet Princess Anne! Isn't that right?
Elaine: I did. In fact, I I had to I had several meetings with her. It was quite intimidating to go because you have to curtsey and remember all the protocol, but she was really lovely and very welcoming. I also got to go into the private residence in Windsor Castle which was just extraordinary. It's one of those areas that hardly anybody gets to see.
Carly: How did you first decide to become an author?
Elaine: I've been in writing and publishing all my life because I actually worked in a publishing company. I worked for a company called Book Club Associates. It was actually the predecessor to Amazon because it was an organization that sold books through the post.
I started writing my first novel based on my own experiences of moving to this little village in Oxfordshire. Gin and It is based on that experience, but I've kind of amplified it. I went through a really interesting journey with it because, sadly, my my partner died. I couldn't write for many years.
About five years afterwards, I cleared out my head of what was going on and I was able to write again. What was really lovely is that I managed to write it with a lot of her memories in it. She was a kind, very funny, very wicked person, and there's a lot of her in the book. It's taught me a lot about delivering something very real in a book.
Telling our stories is a really important part of growth and life for other people to identify with our experience in life because we're all in the same boat. We all need to learn from each other, so it's been a it's been a very cathartic experience. It's been a fun experience.
I actually decided to make a trailer, not a typical book trailer, but a trailer as in a movie trailer as if I had already made the movie to promote the book and that's led me on a whole bigger journey in terms of film and TV which has been really interesting.
Carly: You have developed BooksOffice, which is a platform for taking books to screen. Talk to us about BooksOffice.
Elaine: I have this belief that there are a huge number of stories out there that are told in the pages of a book that never make it to the screen. In the traditional process, if you're lucky as a writer, perhaps you might get an agent, the agent goes to a publisher, the publisher pushes the book, and if you are one of the very small minority that actually gets the very top you have a bestseller. Then the bestseller gets picked up and it gets made for the screen. The premise obviously is that there's an audience waiting to see that story, but if you think about a script, a script has no audience, so the only difference between a script and a book is format.
So, it seems to me that there's this massive potential to take stories that are already within a book, but maybe have not reached the status that you might expect as a producer to take it on. My plan is to make the industry aware that there is a desire for those stories to be told.
That's really what BooksOffice is about and the way that we've set it up is that writers can add their books to the platform. That's free and people can you can link through to Amazon and promote their books. That's just a way of helping people sell their books, but you can also submit your book to one of our projects. Each of our projects is designed to find a story to adapt for the screen, but the principle way we find that story is to open the process up to the public.
The BooksOffice platform guides authors through the steps of how to pitch their stories to entertainment professionals for adaptation to the screen from developing log lines to the creation of a movie deck.
(Elaine takes listeners through a deep dive of the process in the interview.)
Carly: Where do you see BooksOffice in the future? What would you envision?
Elaine: I would love to think that BooksOffice will be powerful enough for audiences to be able to say what they want to see, it gets delivered, and that their journey goes with the story from book to screen.
I would love to think that in that process there is more diversity, there is more representation, and there is more variety. I'm not alone. There are a lot of people in the publishing industry and in the entertainment industry itself who are frustrated by the narrowness of the programming that we see.
If we don't feel represented in our art and life follows art, then we don't feel represented as people. Entertainment is such a big part of our lives and in order for us to feel accepted in all our diversity and all our individualism we have to be represented. I would hope that in five to ten years time I've had some influence in in helping stories that that represent humanity in a broader sense get onto the screen. If that happens I'll be a very happy person.
Connect with Elaine Sturgess and BooksOffice
Michelle Holland, a fellow horse book author, was just on the show and she submitted her books to one of the BooksOffice projects and she was chosen for her book to be developed as a film. Learn more in her interview!
New Episodes Each Wednesday!
Make sure you never miss a show by subscribing on YouTube or Apple Podcasts. This podcast is made possible by listeners like you. I appreciate your support! Thank you for joining us this week on the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast I hope you enjoy these Q&A sessions with wonderful equine authors who love all things horses and writing just like me.
If you are an author who writes about horses and would like to be spotlighted please let me know. Visit my contact page to fill out a request. I'd be happy to have you on the show, too.
About Your Host and Author Carly Kade
Carly Kade is a creativity coach, award-winning independent author, horse owner, and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast. She helps fellow equine authors build, grow, and expand their author careers. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!
In the Reins, the first in Carly's series of novels inspired by the equestrian lifestyle, has been an Amazon best seller for more than 10 weeks, is an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award Winner for Best Western Fiction and has earned two Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories.
The In the Reins book series was written with horse lovers in mind, no matter which discipline they ride, and the horses are as vital to moving the story forward as the human characters are. The books are perfect for poolside reading or taking to the beach.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!