Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Michelle Richmond's newest book headed to the screen. Read the first chapter here.


Michelle Richmond, best selling author of the award-winning The Girl in the Fall Away Dress must be in big time celebration mode today. Not only does her newest novel The Marriage Pact hit the shelves today, but 20th Century Fox & Chernin acquired the film rights to the book. And they've already hired the screenwriter to handle the adaptation. Justin Haythe, author of the Man Booker Prize nominee The Honeymoon and scripter of Revolutionary Road, A Cure for Wellness, The Lone Ranger and the upcoming adaptation of the novel Red Sparrow

Here's the lowdown on the book from Penguin/Random House

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . . 
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.



Image via Wikipedia/Creative Commons

I've read the online sample and now I want to read the rest, partly because I'm familiar with the California locations. Lovely little Half Moon Bay, where a friend of mine lives and San Francisco where I lived a long time ago (and the setting for the novel I'm currently writing. It's my first, wish me luck!)  

Here's the first chapter of The Marriage Pact:
SIGN UP

I come to on a Cessna, bumping through the air. My head is throbbing, and there is blood on my shirt. I have no idea how much time has passed. I look at my hands, expecting to see restraints, but there are none. Just an ordinary seatbelt looped around my waist. Who strapped me in? I don’t even remember boarding the plane.
Through the open door of the cockpit, I see the back of the pilot’s head. It’s just the two of us. There is snow in the mountains, wind buffeting the plane. The pilot seems completely focused on his controls, shoulders tense.
I reach up and touch my head. The blood has dried, leaving a sticky mess. My stomach rumbles. The last thing I ate was the French toast. How long ago was that? On the seat beside me, I find water and a sandwich wrapped in wax paper. I open the bottle and drink.
I unwrap my sandwich—ham and Swiss—and take a bite. Shit. My jaw hurts too much to chew. Someone must have punched me in the face after I hit the ground.
“Are we going home?” I ask the pilot.
“Depends on what you call home. We’re headed to Half Moon Bay.” 
“They didn’t tell you anything about me?”
“First name, destination, that’s about it. I’m just a taxi driver, Jake.”
“But you’re a member, right?”
“Sure,” he says, his tone unreadable. “Fidelity to the Spouse, Loyalty to The Pact. Till death do us part.” He turns back just long enough to give me a look that warns me not to ask any more questions.
We hit an air pocket so hard my sandwich goes flying. An urgent beeping erupts. The pilot curses and frantically pushes buttons. He shouts something to air traffic control. We’re descending fast, and I’m clutching the armrests, thinking of Alice, going over our final conversation, wishing I’d said so many things. 
Then, suddenly, the plane levels out, we gain altitude, and all appears to be well. I gather the pieces of my sandwich from the floor, wrap the whole mess back up in the wax paper, and set it on the seat beside me.
“Sorry for the turbulence,” the pilot says.
“Not your fault. Good save.”
Over sunny Sacramento, he finally relaxes, and we talk about the Golden State Warriors and their surprising run this season. 
“What day is it?” I ask.
“Tuesday.”
I’m relieved to see the familiar coastline out my window, grateful for the sight of the little Half Moon Bay Airport. The landing is smooth. Once we touch down, the pilot turns and says, “Don’t make it a habit, right?”
“Don’t plan to.”
I grab my bag and step outside. Without killing the engines, the pilot closes the door, swings the plane around, and takes off again.
I walk into the airport café, order hot chocolate, and text Alice. It’s two p.m. on a weekday, so she’s probably embroiled in a thousand meetings. I don’t want to bother her, but I really need to see her
A text reply arrives. Where are you?
Back in HMB.
Will leave in 5.
It’s more than twenty miles from Alice’s office to Half Moon Bay. She texts about traffic downtown, so I order food, almost the whole left side of the menu. The café is empty. The perky waitress in the perfectly pressed uniform hovers. When I pay the check, she says, “Have a good day, Friend.”
I go outside and sit on a bench to wait. It’s cold, the fog coming down in waves. By the time Alice’s old Jaguar pulls up, I’m frozen. I stand up, and as I’m checking to make sure I have everything, Alice walks over to the bench. She’s wearing a serious suit, but she has changed out of heels into sneakers for the drive. Her black hair is damp in the fog. Her lips are dark red, and I wonder if she did this for me. I hope so.
She rises on her tiptoes to kiss me. Only then do I realize how desperately I’ve missed her. Then she steps back and looks me up and down.
“At least you’re in one piece.” She reaches up and touches my jaw gently. “What happened?”
“Not sure.”
I wrap my arms around her.
“So why were you summoned?”
There’s so much I want to tell her, but I’m scared. The more she knows, the more dangerous it will be for her. Also, let’s face it, the truth is going to piss her off.
What I’d give to go back to the beginning—before the wedding, before Finnegan, before The Pact turned our lives upside down.
Intriguing right? John Grisham's The Firm comes to mind, and I can already see it on screen. I don't have a sense of the character's ages yet but there are lots of candidates in that late 20's/early 30's age range.

You can read the rest of the excerpt at the Penguin Random House site.




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