by Ted Miller Brogden
M E Publishing
J.K. Rowling, Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, John Grisham, Ursula LeGuin, Stephen King and Upton Sinclair all have one thing in common: They were all rejected numerous times by editors and agents. Us writers in general dream of the day we make it and then run into the individual(s) who doubted us from the start. It’s not because we want to rub our successes in their faces, but we want to validate that it’s alright to strike the final nail in the coffin that houses our insecurities. As my favorite saying goes: “Be careful or you’ll end up in my next novel.”
Today, in Goldsboro, North Carolina, new author Ted Miller Brogden is reaching for his hammer. Within his first novel, “Jigsaw,” Brogden gives readers wealth, women, personal transformation and a true-blue suspense thriller that centers around main character Captain Cape Thomas. Haunted and unable to shake the reoccurring dream of a beautiful woman swaddling a baby, Captain is compelled to search through college yearbooks and aged courthouse records in hopes to finding her identity and easing his soul. What follows is more than a journey into the past within the beautiful, romantic South, but a secret life filled with sorrow, humor, scams and scammers, wealth, in-laws, outlaws and even the F.A.A. is revealed.
What should be appreciated most about Brogden’s action-packed work and his personal story is that he has no background as a writer. In fact, Brogden is a real estate agent, but his love for story-telling kept him motivated to reach readers across the page despite a very negative experience in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Now, his dream to tell an audience a great story is about to come true.
“I had it in my mind; if a New York agent likes it, then it’s something!” he says. “So, I attended a writers’ conference where there were going to be New York agents. It would be like the old song goes: ‘I couldn’t make it there I wouldn’t make it anywhere.’ After a 15 minute evaluation, one particular agent from New York City said, ‘Do you want me to sugar coat it or give it to you straight up?’ I preferred it straight up and that’s when she hit me with it. ‘I don’t like how you write and I don’t like what you write about.’ I always had doubts about my abilities and when she said that it confirmed everything I feared.”
Despite the agent’s disservice, Brogden’s words didn’t have an ounce of vengeance. “As soon as I returned home, I placed the manuscript on a shelf and turned away from it for six years.”
That is until Maleia Everidge, a close friend of Brogden, coaxed him into not only finishing the work but giving it to another mutual friend, Nicole Mallozzi Givens, wife of award-winning director, Michael Givens. Asking the North Carolina director, writer and cinematographer to look at it seemed daunting to Brogden.
“To ask someone to read your manuscript is like asking, ‘Look can you chop off half your arm for me?’” he says. “But Michael gave such great feedback, and it was like winning the lottery. It was no longer just friends or acquaintances that said they liked it. Suddenly, there was a professional that acknowledged I had some talent, and he wanted to share it with the world. I finally felt validated.”
It’s clear Brogden believes that one doesn’t have to possess a degree in creative writing to be a good story-teller who can mold an entertaining idea. This is especially so for movies. Givens—also the first Western director to shoot in Vietnam since the end of the war—couldn’t agree more.
“Ultimate goal is, of course, to make a film that always engages the audiences and makes them feel a part of it,” Givens says. “You sit down, the lights go down, and it’s symbolic of a dream. You’re taken on a journey that which you have no control.”
“Ted (Brogden) did a great job of weaving pieces together to make a great story that’s clever,” Givens continues. “I like the way the protagonist approaches his problems. I like the danger of it and the way our hero solves them. I love how it’s in the South—particularly the Carolinas. Greensboro, Goldsboro and Kinston—we’re hoping to keep as much of it as local as we can, even to include Wilmington. It’s really a home-grown situation. Yes, of course, my wife had my ear, but networking had nothing to do with it. The bottom line is; it’s a good idea. Ted’s book is a great fit.”
Givens explains that taking Brogden’s 337-page novel and turning it into a 110-120-page script proves a challenging task. It doesn’t come as easy as sliding the book into one side of the computer, and watching a script come out of the other. Novels and movies are two different machines, and the rule of thumb in filmmaking is to show it—don’t say it. It’s easier said than done considering a novel is a mechanism that centers around personal thoughts—and thoughts can’t be photographed.
“It’s a classic thriller in the sense we know more than the protagonist knows,” Givens hints. “It has that Hitchcockian feel—a film where there’s always something going because our main character never has it easy.”
While one could technically state production for “Jigsaw” has already begun, because Givens is deep into writing the script, the project is still dependent on meeting a budget before the all mighty and luminous green light reads “Go!” Preproduction is set to being by next summer. However, Givens has been working in film for 30 years, and he confidently remarks that he has no worries in seeing the project take off. If it takes a bit more time to gather funding, the pertinent fact remains,: In the end, Brogden will see redemption for hard work and in the best possible manner: success.
“Maybe [the New York agent] thought, ‘I hope this idiot doesn’t make it!“ Brogden says. “Though, I hope this idiot may.”
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