Author’s film adventure is a twisted tale of fun and fantasy

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A Fylde author has told how he met top Hollywood actors on the set of a new fantasy film based on one of his novels.

Joseph Delaney, author of the popular Spooks series of teen fantasy books, has finally seen the film version of his first story released into the cinemas in time for the Easter holidays.

The film has had mixed reviews and fans of the books have complained it bears little resemblance to the tales of witchcraft based in Lancashire of the 16th century.

But Joe said he knew early on that the book was getting the Hollywood treatment and the screenwriter and director were taking it in a different direction from the books.

The former Blackpool Sixth Form lecturer said: “It is a kids film. My grandchildren, who are aged nine to 11, went a couple of days ago and enjoyed it. It has its faults but it is a fun film with lots of special effects and fast action.

“In places it’s a bit blink and you’ll miss it ,but it is what it is – a fun, fantasy film.

“I was involved a little bit at the start. When they first started talking about it it was going to be closer to the book with its Lancastrian setting but as things developed they took a fantasy blockbuster style approach.

“Some of the critics didn’t like it but it is spectacular. Someone described it as enjoyable but not memorable.

“I went out to Vancouver to the film set and met the director and some of the actors including Jeff Bridges. He is a real method actor and was deep in character at the time.

“He called me up to ask about one of the details of the story – about the magic stone given to Tom Ward.

“But I said to him I would love to help but that wasn’t in the original book. He sort of said ‘Oh, right.’

“To watch him in action was interesting, he was almost like a director himself.

“They were shooting a scene where he is near some pillars and is being attacked by invisible blades. He would do a take then go and look with the director at the film and then redo it. He did about nine takes on that alone, so I can see why films take so long to make and cost so much.”

The film was fraught with problems, with wrangles over contracts in Hollywood and a special effects company going bust and it took six years to get to the silver screen.

Joe said: “It has done well in China and Russia taking millions but it did not do well at its opening in the US and that is the crucial thing for the studios. It is very different from my books and some of the fans don’t like that.

“The boggarts in Lancashire folklore are more like poltergeists, invisible or take animal form, but in the movie it is more like a huge troll bursting out of the ground and chasing the heroes, smashing down trees.

“In the book you can spend three pages on the dialogue setting the scene or developing the characters but in a movie you haven’t the time.

“It is more like a three second soundbite or just signalling something visually.

“I have seen the film twice. Once in Paris and once in Montreal in French, which was an interesting experience!”