WHY I WROTE YOU MIGHT FEEL A LITTLE PRICK*
( *as a novel )
Before I relate how this book came to be, I should mention that in the universe of the novel, the story ends just as the first hint of the Covid-19 virus is starting to hit the media’s consciousness, and my characters are not yet aware of it. But I am, having lost an old friend, two former colleagues, and a relative in France to the virus. So, despite the grief I’ve given to a few (mostly) fictitious medical professionals, YOU MIGHT FEEL A LITTLE PRICK should do absolutely nothing to detract from the heroism and humanity of the frontline medical workers who have given their all, and in many cases their lives, to fight this scourge. They are the best of who we are.
Now, here’s how it all began.
A while back, I was having a pretty good run selling spec screenplays, cashing nice checks, living the dream that sustained me when I was a kid banging out scripts on an old Olivetti—as well as pouring hot tar on roofs or playing piano for the opera-singing servers at Miceli’s Restaurant in Lower Hollywood.
The thing was, many of these spec scripts—which I had put my heart into and were the reason for becoming a storyteller in the first place—wound up in Development Hell. Yeah, I know, definitely a First World problem. Poor me. But every re-write for every twenty-something Development Executive whose life experiences consisted of scoring an Ivy MBA and watching too much TV; or their clone after they were fired; or when the existing director ‘attached’ to ‘the project’ changed and the new one came in with their own ‘vision’, the scripts became homogenized to where they bore little relation to whatever sparked the sale in the first place.
Yeah, I still get it. Poor me. Except YOU MIGHT FEEL A LITTLE PRICK was a bit different than any other screenplay I’d written. It was more than a story. It was my life; and partly my late wife’s life. Some sad stuff there, but the cliché about the fine line between tragedy and comedy is a cliché because it’s true. So the screenplay became a blistering dark comedy. A prominent director wanted to film it and gave the script to their agent at one of the largest talent agencies on the planet. The screenplay was sent for review to the agency’s internal story department. The director got a hold of the ‘coverage’, which is basically a book report on the script, and the verdict was damn glowing. ‘Strongly Recommend.’ It looked like the script was on its way to becoming a movie, one as personal to me as any I’d ever written. I was ecstatic.
Until the big time agent called me. The agent said, “You know, it’s a great script and everything, but I have to tell you my brother is a doctor and he’s not like that.”
I restrained myself from yelling I wasn’t writing about his damn brother. The screenplay was about what I had experienced. Yeah, it’s realism on ‘roids; but there’s doctor dialogue in it I took verbatim from real life. My real life. Also, I added, that there are characterizations of noble doctors in the script, but I’m guessing he had tossed it after page ten and didn’t get to those parts. He suggested perhaps softening it a bit. I’ve played this game before, and know you can’t be rigid; it’s a collaborative medium blah blah blah. Still, as I politely pushed back—I mean really politely—that’s when the sonofabitch hung up on me.
I thought about it. For about two seconds. Two seconds that were life changing. I called my manager and told him not to send the screenplay out to studios/producers/directors/movie stars—the entire Hollywood eco-system—because I decided to take the plunge I’d always dreamt of taking, and write this story as a novel.
Because for good or bad, for check or no check, I’d let real people, instead of a dozen cookie-cutter executives, read the story that I wanted—no, needed—to tell.
YOU MIGHT FEEL A LITTLE PRICK is a story for anyone—or their loved ones, their friends, or even their worst enemies—anyone who’s not been listened to, or undergone an avoidable ‘procedure’, a procedure that ‘unfortunately’ had to be ‘tweaked’, or had been screwed over by a health insurance company because the procedure was ‘out-of-network’, whatever…
This is a story about those who have needlessly suffered and want to know what a bit of payback feels like. And after that, how maybe the system could find its own cure.