August 22, 2020
The Witch's Season, my first novel, has had a circuitous journey,
even going back to when I started it in high school and a part of it appeared in Tableau, the Wheat Ridge High student
I came across my copy of that magazine today, plus two of my earlier stories from The Axe, the
school paper at South Eugene High, that also provided some initial inspiration and additional plotline for the novel.
Both the stories,
written when I was 16, were about the Vietnam Veterans Against the War -- one on a forum put on by the local chapter and another
on the Eugene appearance of a national VVAW leader.
name was John Kerry.
It all was part of the roman a clef novel based on my father's Oregon teams, plus those tumultuous times
on one of the nation's caludron campuses.
The Witch's Season, named to honor a Donovan song popular when the
novel takes place, but also to avoid duplicating the title of James Leo Herlihy's 1971 novel, The Season of the
Witch, drew interest when a manuscript as a movie property, and was a rough draft screenplay long, long before I
revisited and "finished" the novel version.
This was years before I stepped away from the project and broke in as an author with
three non-fiction books.
I did lunch/cocktails at the Beverly Wilshire with a producer, but a screen project wasn't/hasn't been
green-lighted. The producer had been a student radical at Michigan and recognized a bit of herself in Annie, the hothead SDS
leader in The Witch’s Season.
During that period, I was on a trip to Boston with the Mariners in the mid-'90s. I
went to watch "All My Children's" Walt Willey do standup at a comedy club near Faneuil Hall. I was a devotee of
the soap opera and I'd mentioned to the producer that I'd pictured Willey as a possibility to play the coach (modeled after
Jerry Frei) in The Witch's Season. They did look a lot alike. Willey was fans' most popular of Erica Kane's eight
husbands on AMC.
At the club, Willey was hilarious ... and, shall we say, more like George Carlin than many in the audience
expected. I remember a story about a broken nose that can't be repeated here. I came away more convinced that he'd be great
as Witch's Larry Benson. I guess we'd have to go after Brad Pitt now. I also cast my (irrelevant) vote for the actress
to play Kit, the student reporter, but I'm embarrassed to say who it was now.
Season has been out as a novel since 2009, and
it's finally now available in Kindle, too. It's fun to say many disagree with me and I thank them, but I've come around to
believing that my two novels, The Witch's Season and Olympic Affair, are my best work -- better than the non-fiction books
that have sold much better. (Funny how that works.)
Here's the start of the full screenplay version, which I periodically reworked
over the years, including again after the book came out. The most drastic revision is that Jake Powell, the radical linebacker
who also is the leader of the Campus Coalition Against the War, now is a quarterback in the screenplay.
Here's the book web site page.
If I had to do it over again, I would have called it Must Be the Season of the Witch
and would have skipped fogging up the setting, instead just letting it be Eugene, the Oregon Ducks and the University of Oregon.
I guess we could do
that if the film gets made.