Brett Jackson is best known in Cornwall for being artistic director of Swamp Circus, renowned for their big top shows and charity work with young people across the Duchy.
However, Brett’s due to get a lot better known now thanks to his new book, which could be turned into a blockbuster movie thanks to the backing of a Hollywood producer.
The Penryn-based author has used his unique childhood in the Saharan desert as the basis of Heart of Wood, which has been described as “green sci-fi” and “circus sci” due to Brett’s carnivalesque style of writing which has been informed by his circus background.
The book is in the Young Adult (YA) category but is expected to cross over to all ages in a similar vein to the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series.
It catapults the reader into a world of the last trees and a future industrial metropolis. The passionate story is about air in a future where wood is gold and is told by a Dinka refugee trying to find a place in a radically new society with life-threatening values.
The themes of climate change and refugees are explored in an entertaining, modern allegory.
Brett said: “Heart of Wood draws on a growing female energy that unites allies and builds a colourful and uplifting rebellion that unites those who know the real value of plants and trees.”
He was brought up in Katsina in Northern Nigeria near the border with Niger, where his art teacher father worked on a project run by the Peace Corps. Brett’s formative memories are from the desert landscape and exciting highlife music. It was an area rich in the arts from world-influencing pottery to metal sculptures and printing.
Leaving at the age of six as the Biafran war started, Brett had a travelling upbringing with a family of artists and has continued this tradition with the circus.
The basis of his book comes from a Swamp Circus show called Moto, which was a huge hit at the Edinburgh Festival 20 years ago. It was turned into a film script but Brett got married “and various things like that which take you in a different direction”.
He returned to the idea and it mutated into the fast-paced and comedic Heart of Wood, which is published by award-winning independent publisher Shield Crest.
An exciting development is the very real prospect that the book could be turned into a Hollywood film.
Brett explained: “We were offered the potential to develop a film script by a Hollywood-based film company Voyage Media. I’ve been working with weekly with Michael Chamoy, a former development executive and television writer with extensive experience working on superhero and sci-fi productions.
“His 15 years of experience working in Hollywood has made him a sought after script consultant for writers and producers on their material. Michael’s credits include Alphas, X-Men 3: The Last Stand and The Avengers.”
Brett added: “Michael is a realist and has been working on making the unusual but action packed story into a script for financing. The biggest challenge is agreeing on cultural compromises especially to do with comedy; as ideas for production in Cornwall and California can be radically different! But so far we have had the outline script passed and so we are now looking to work with a Cornish-based scriptwriter on the script itself with support from the team at Voyage Media.
“We are not holding our breath as its a long shot amongst the large numbers of scripts competing to be read but we have done well so far. We look forward to talking to local scriptwriter with a passion for the environment and exciting storytelling.”
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Brett is hoping his exciting story with an environmental message will be loved by a wide audience.
He added: “I was an angry young man who performed poetry in the punk era. Now I’m an angry old codger who’s written a book! Actually, I’ve gone beyond anger now, it’s all about love and unity.”
Heart of Wood was edited by local writer and poet Rebecca Tantony and designed by Penryn-based designer Shaun Pimlott, and is available from Shield Crest Publishing as well as at Waterstones, Amazon and Kindle. Signed copies can be bought at the Swamp Circus Cafe on Penryn’s Lower Market Street.