MEEKER | Every novelist dreams of hearing those coveted words about their book—“Soon to be a Major Motion Picture”—and that is exactly what has happened to former Meekerite, Stephen S. Janes (who goes by his middle name, Shannon). His first novel, “The Prayer Wheel Odyssey” (Outskirts Press, 2012), has been picked up by Harris Management—a Los Angeles-based talent management company focused on a select group of actors, directors, writers and recording artists—and is being adapted into a feature film.
“I am very excited about this,” Janes said in a Harris Management press release (April 2). “As a fan of movies, of course it would be a dream come true to see my book made into a film.”
Born in Meeker in 1937, Janes well remembers his roots. “I suspect there are no Janeses left in Meeker these days, but at one time there were quite a bunch,” he said. “My grandpa Janes ran a horse-drawn freight line between Meeker and Rifle in the truly old days and well before that, my great-grandfather and grandmother on my mom’s side—their last name was Bewley—had a homestead on what we called Josephine Basin. I don’t know if it’s still called that, but it was the area through which some of the Ute Indians took the Meeker women after the massacre west of town.”
He also vividly remembers the Meeker Massacre reenactment he watched many times as a kid. It made so deep an impression on him, in fact, that it actually inspired his second novel, Cries At Sundown (Outskirts Press, 2018).
Upon graduating from Meeker High School in 1955—the whole student body was 42—Janes went on that fall to the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he eventually earned both his bachelor’s and law degree. He spent four years in the U.S. Navy with the Naval Security Group, and then went on to 12 years with American College Testing in student financial services, where he had a significant role in the implementation of the Pell Grant program. From there he spent 25 years with the University of Texas at Austin, which included several years as associate vice president for student affairs and 15 years of teaching a law course in the College of Education.
“I retired at the end of 2005, and I can putter in my house for days and never leave and am perfectly happy,” he said. “I had always wanted to write, I started a few things and threw them away, but then wrote my first book.”
The book is, according to the press release, “a uniquely spellbinding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat while it opens your eyes to what could happen to our planet if just one mistake is made . . . or just one person tips the balance for personal gain.”
Not to give anything away, “The book is about the piece of crumpled paper you see on the cover,” Janes said. It opens with a young “Everyman” finding this document at the scene of a tragic shooting at the fence of the White House, and his life changes in ways he could never imagine.
The screenplay for the film is being written right now, with Janes himself being allowed input. From there a movie package will be developed, which includes: financing, casting, choice of director, marketing, distribution, and other issues.
Janes has even been asked to suggest various actors to play certain parts, since he actually wrote the book as if it were going to be a movie, which makes the screen adaptation much easier. “I think the content of this story is so good that there will be some known actors who will be interested,” said Earnest Harris of Harris Management.
Looks like we all can keep our eyes open for a movie trailer one of these days. In the meantime, Janes is working on two other novels.
By Doc Watson | Special to the Herald Times