What started as a true story my mom told me in lieu of a fairytale when I was four, muddled around in my head for decades. I never heard a love story which touched me more. Finally, I decided to transpose it from my head and heart into a script, the most logical landing place, I felt, because these characters and their great love were larger than life and deserved to be on a movie screen.
That true story became “War Serenade”—the screenplay.
I pitched “War Serenade” the movie to producers in Hollywood. Miraculously I received a call and Allan, the producer, said “This is a hell of a love story. But it seems so impossible.”
I was excited “Yes! Yes! It does seem so… but it’s all true. That’s the beauty of it.”
Allan replied “It’s just too good to be true. Nobody would believe it. I need more conflict for a movie.”
I resisted, stupidly, for one whole year. Then it hit me! Fool! What a chance, Jill, don’t let it pass you by. But how? Tentatively I changed the names of my protagonists. After a chapter or two, I was liberated. Under fictitious names, I could make my hero, Pietro a little more of a bastard and his true love Iris, a wee bit promiscuous, all without soiling the memory or reputations of my much-admired aunt and uncle.
I’ll never forget the call from The Producer. It went something like this:
Allan: “I read the script”.
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t blink or swallow. I don’t think my heart pumped. Maybe it just flipped. We all just waited, my parts and I, for his next sentence.
It came. “NOW we have a movie!” he said and with those words, became “My” Producer!
But three months later, my advocate, my excited cheerleader, My Producer died very suddenly, and selfishly, my dreams of the silver screen died with him.
“War Serenade” was optioned again for a year by a studio, but there was more conflict in the ranks between producers and directors than on the page.
I licked my wounds and wrote nothing for 5 years until my wise friend Martha Powers, herself a celebrated author, said “To hell with them all. Write a book.”
So, I did. It took me three years.
“War Serenade” the book was born in 2018 and thanks to you, and you, and you, she finds new readers every day. And listeners, too, now she is an audiobook!
A humongous thank you to all those who had a part in her development, her birth and of course, my deep gratitude to those who’ve read her and those who will. Where would on earth would “War Serenade” be without you?