Fate or Coincidence?

When it comes to movie deals, nothing is certain until contracts are signed and money is paid, so I tried not to get too excited during my initial conversation with producer Piers Tempest.

The plan was to let him explain his vision for
THE HUNTERS while I listened quietly. Then, if I liked what he had to say—and that was a very big if in my mind—I would talk things over with my agents and we would decide whether or not to have a second conversation with Piers. But I doubted that would happen.

Why was I so negative? Simply put, I had gone through this routine many times before with Hollywood, and it had always ended in disappointment. Despite my doubts, I was still willing to talk to Piers, if for no other reason than to avoid writing for an hour or so.

Before I describe what happened next, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I’m not a big believer in fate. Never have been, never will be. Instead, I believe if you work hard and surround yourself with good people, then good things will happen to you. That philosophy has served me well over the years, which is why I lock myself in my office for months at a time while I’m working on a book and have fewer friends than fingers. In my world, success comes from hard work not because it's been preordained.

That said, the first five minutes of my phone call with Piers makes me think that there might be a magical element to the universe that brings people together at precisely the right time. Call it luck, coincidence, or serendipity—the truth is that both of us were so surprised and amused by what we discovered that we immediately sensed that this project was meant to be.

To help you understand, I have to go back in time approximately twelve hours to set the scene. The night before I was scheduled to chat with Piers, I was speaking to my mother about my youngest sister, who was in the middle of a business trip to the UK. I wanted to see how she was doing, and my mom assured me that she was having a blast. In fact, my sister had just called her to say that she had spent the day at Aldourie Castle in Scotland and it had been the best travel experience of her life. (And that was saying something because my sister has been in the travel industry for years and has been around the world about twenty times.)

Unfamiliar with the castle, I jumped online to glance at some photos and was immediately charmed by the place. Situated in one of the world’s most iconic locations, the
Aldourie Estate is home to the only habitable castle on the southern shores of Loch Ness. The castle is 5 miles from the city of Inverness yet set on 500 acres of private grounds that look like they belong in a fairytale. No wonder she had so much fun. Florida (where I live) has some great beaches and sunsets, but very few castles. That night I went to bed envious of my sister, hoping that the Loch Ness monster crawled ashore and scared the shit out of her in the morning.

Aldourie Castle (Inverness, Scotland)

Flash forward to the following day: Piers called me from England as planned and we made some small talk to get to know each other before we chatted about THE HUNTERS. My sister was still fresh on my mind, so I mentioned that she was currently in Scotland but was heading to England in a day or two. Instantly curious, he asked where she was staying in Scotland. After telling him some castle near Loch Ness, there was a long pause in the conversation. So long, in fact, that I thought we might have been disconnected. Finally, he asked, “Was it Aldourie Castle?” When I told him yes, he started to laugh. I didn’t understand his laughter at all until he told me the punchline. He said, “You’re not going to believe this, but my brother owns Aldourie Castle!”

Knowing little about Piers, I didn’t know if he was pulling my leg or not. He assured me that it was the latter, then explained how his brother had
acquired the property and had painstakingly restored it to its former beauty. He went on to name the people who ran the grounds and described many things about the place that I had heard from my mom the night before.

Needless to say, I was stunned.

As you know, the world is a very big place, so it seemed pretty remarkable that my sister had stayed at his brother’s castle the night before my first meeting with Piers. Actually, now that I think about it, depending on when her group checked out of Aldourie, she still might have been at the castle when Piers called me from England. How freaky is that?

Not surprisingly, my play-it-cool facade crumbled almost immediately, and so did my doubts about Piers. Twenty minutes later, I was so excited about our matching visions for the movie that we started to discuss directors, writers, and a star-studded cast. And yes, I did say writers. We agreed early on that I should stay focused on my novels while an experienced screenwriter adapted
THE HUNTERS for film. Maybe things will be different in the future—I’ve always wanted to write a screenplay, and I think I’d be pretty good at it—but for now, my role with the film will be more as a creative advisor. After all, I’m the only one who knows where this series is going, so they can’t get rid of me quite yet.