Michael Hornburg is Glamwire’s November Author of the Month.
SBF: Hi Michael! I want to talk to you about your new book, Downers Grove. I read it and enjoyed it very much. Can you tell our readers a little bit about the story?
MH: It’s about two girls in Suburban Illinois, in a town called Downers Grove, and they’re seniors in high school. There’s a curse at the high school and every year before graduation, a senior dies, and at the beginning of the book, no one has died yet, and the kids are all wondering who it’s gong to be. The two girls go to a party and they get into a confrontation with some bad boys, they slip away, but they do some damage to the bad boys. And so, throughout the novel, they’re being pursued by these guys and they’re getting closer and closer as the novel accelerates toward the end, until a final confrontation, which ends in a tragedy and the curse is fulfilled.
SBF: Tell me about your inspiration for this story. Did you grow up near there?
MH: I spent four years in Downers Grove, but the curse story comes from a real life curse story in Connecticut, I’m not sure what the town was called, but it was something that I picked up in the New York Times and just sort of incorporated into my own background in Downers Grove. The characters are loosely based on myself, my sister, and some of my friends, and it is all circled around my family story.
SBF: What genre would you say that this is, a black comedy?
MH: Yes…a black comedy is quite accurate!
SBF: That’s how it struck me. I was reading in the trades that Bret Easton Ellis has written the screenplay for this book. That’s exciting!
MH: Yes. Bret lives in LA now. He was hired by the producers, and I was not really in contact with Bret. I saw him recently here in NY when he was on his book tour, but he had already finished it. And the producer sent me a copy of the screenplay, so I have seen it. But I can’t reveal anything about it at this time, sorry. But he’s definitely goosed up the story a little bit.
SBF: And are you happy with it?
MH: Sure, well I am not great at reading screenplays because I can’t really visualize it the way a director does, so it’s hard for me to read into what it’s actually going to be. When I saw the “Bong Water” screenplay, I really hated it, and I made that very clear to the producer and director and they insisted everything would be fine.
SBF: Yeah I know what you mean because I enjoyed your book, “Bong Water” a lot, and when I rented a DVD of a movie called “Bong Water,” I wasn’t sure if it was based on your book!
MH: Yeah, it’s the same. They changed it dramatically though and it’s all different. The basic themes are there, the basic plotline, but they rewrote it. I didn’t really like it at all. As a writer, you have no control.
SBF: Wow! So do you care or do you just get excited that it’s being made at all, and let go?
MH: You don’t have the control, and you don’t have the money to control it, so you kind of have to let it go.
SBF: Alright, and obviously you have a lot of interest from some very well known people. So many writers dream of getting their books made into screenplays and then films, and it looks like yours is really happening, again!
MH: I’ve written two books, and both have been made into movies.
SBF: That’s really incredible! So tell me about the latest news that I just read about in Variety, regarding the two main parts in Downers Grove?
MH: Hayden Panettiere and Nikki Reed are going to play Chrissie and Tracy.
SBF: That is so incredible! Nikki Reed is brilliant! I loved her in Thirteen!
MH: She’s in Twilight, I guess.
SBF: Yes, she is in Twilight. And this almost has that Twilight feel.
MH: Yeah, it’s very dark.
SBF: Dark, but also with really cool kids.
MH: Bret will turn it up a notch and the director is a horror film director so the combination should add a little bit here and there to it.
SBF: And are you working on a new book now?
MH: Yes. I am working on a new book now. It’s called, “The King of the Hipsters.”
SBF: Oooh I like that title!! Is there anything you want to tell us about that or do you want to just leave it at that for now?
MH: Yeah, I think it’s best I don’t really want to give away anything yet.
SBF: And you have a lovely daughter, don’t you?
MH: Yes, I do! Miss Abbie Jones, she is turns 15 tomorrow! You’d be surprised; she’s very tall. She’s a freshman at the Beacon High School.
SBF: Well, you’re really tall so I’m not that surprised. And I am sure she’s a super-cool kid, just like her dad!
MH: She’s the one who turns me onto bands now! She’s the cutting edge!
SBF: Oh, that is so cool! Do you have a favorite band right now?
MH: My favorite new band right now is The Drums.
SBF: Cool, I’ll have to check them out. So thank you so much for talking to me, and you are the Glamwire Featured Writer of November!
MH: Sweet! Thank you!
- Hayden Panettiere and Nikki Reed to star in ‘Downers Grove’ adaptation (popwatch.ew.com)
- Hayden Panettiere and Nikki Reed Cast in DOWNERS GROVE (geektyrant.com)
- Hayden Panettiere and Nikki Reed To Star in ‘Downers Grove’ (slashfilm.com)
- Hayden Panettiere and Nikki Reed to Star in DOWNERS GROVE; Script by Bret Easton Ellis (collider.com)