Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Carole Whang Schutter Writes about Troubled Love in September Dawn

We are starting off the month of January with an amazing screenwriter and author who has traveled a unique journey to success. Carole Schutter wrote the screenplay for September Dawn--a Romeo and Juliet type romance which takes place during the events leading up to the Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857. The movie stars Jon Voight, Trent Ford, and Tamara Hope; and one of my favorite actors, Dean Cain, played the part of Joseph Smith. The DVD is due to be released this month and Carole wrote a book based upon the movie, also titled September Dawn, which she is promoting during her month-long virtual book tour.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Carole. I’m honored to have you with us. Before we get to September Dawn, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How long have you been writing? Do you concentrate on a particular genre? Has a particular person or event influenced your writing in any way?

Thank you. I’ve been writing since I was five. I always wanted to be a writer, but life got in the way. I’ve always been fascinated by history. I almost majored in it. I like historical fiction and romance is always a part of my writing. I also tend to put females in the lead. Not in September Dawn, but it was the idea of a girl going to the California Gold Rush that was my original idea for the movie/book. I love historical writers like James Michener, James Clavell, and Ken Follett.

You’re not shy about sharing your faith in God. How well received is that in the entertainment industry? Did your faith create obstacles in getting your screenplay accepted or the movie promoted?

There has been more openness to movies with Christian content because of The Passion of Christ. However, the window could close just as fast if movies perceived as Christian don’t do well. I was talking to someone in marketing who has promoted many movies. Generally, the movie world is very disappointed with Christian oriented movies because they feel that unlike the Passion, the large Christian groups they approach are either unsupportive or back pedal after expressing their support. Unless this changes, you will find the doors closing to more Christian based movies. Movies have to make money or they won’t get made. That is why children’s movies, horror movies, and action flicks are way up there.

Tell us about September Dawn. Where did the idea for this movie and book come from?

I believe it came from God. I was driving in Colorado when this random idea about a pioneer woman on her way to the California Gold Rush when Mormons dressed as Indians ambushed the wagon train. Imagine my surprise when I began researching wagon trails and found the story of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I couldn’t believe that a history buff like me had never heard of it.

What type of research did you perform to write the screenplay?

Two years, thousands of pages on the Internet, almost 50 different resources, books, newspapers, depositions, congressional records, etc.

How much influence did you have in the production of the movie, if any?

I only acted in a supportive role helping mainly with miscellaneous historical aspects of the film.

Is the book very different from the movie?

Since the book was written after the movie, the answer is no. However, the book is more in depth.

Tell us more about Jonathan Samuelson and Emily Hudson. Why will readers care about them? What is it about this young couple that will make readers want them to be together?

Jonathan and Emily are two young people that have had life experiences that have made them think outside the box. In their own way, for that day and age, they are rebels. Jonathan is a romantic, haunted by his mother’s fate. But he also is a free thinker like Emily. Both young people do not accept ideas just because they were told things should be a certain way. They question, guided by their humanity and their spirit. They think, they feel, and they are passionate human beings with a moral compass. Although they come from different worlds and have different experiences, they are suited to each other because of these characteristics. Their passion and innate goodness, their spirit and sweetness, will make the reader eager for them to be with each other forever.

With historical fiction, the challenge seems to be how to combine a fictional story into actual events. How did you meet this challenge? What was most difficult about this process?

It actually wasn’t very difficult. My writing flows best when I am connected to God’s Spirit. Sometimes it almost feels like automatic writing. The most difficult thing for me is to remain subjective. I become emotionally involved with my characters and I don’t want to “kill” them.

Now that we have a feel for September Dawn, can you tell us where readers can purchase a copy of the book?

Amazon, Authorhouse, Barnes and Noble, Booksamillion, cdgospel.com, most book websites. It is also available at Borders and Walden Book stores.

What is up next for you? Are there new projects you wish to share with our readers?

I have optioned a romantic family movie about a real historical character. She is a wonderful character and I write about her as a young girl and teenager. She is Granuaile O’Malley, otherwise known as the pirate queen of Ireland. She is my Pirate Princess. We hope to begin production sometime next year.

I am also redoing a historical family saga I started years ago called “The Ohana,” which means family in Hawaii. It covers three generations of three immigrant families to Hawaii. A Korean family, a Japanese family, and an Irish family. It is the story of how their lives merge against the backdrop of Hawaiian history, the Great Depression, World War II and the Vietnam War. Quite a project.

I am also working on other screenplays. One is directly from the Bible. I will be collaborating with another writer on the books created from the screenplays as I need the help! I have too many projects.

Is there anything you would like to add?

September Dawn has not received the attention it should have. It is a good movie, our first reviews from the “big” magazine and newspaper critics were, as the marketing director said, “the kind of reviews everyone dreams of having.” Criticism of our being historically incorrect and ham fisted were interesting. What took us two years of intense study, reviewers were experts on immediately. Unfortunately, massacres are ham-fisted acts, and it was a blot on our history. But we only learn from history by knowing the truth. The truth, the Bible says, will set us free.

Thank you for joining us today, Carole. I’m glad we got to hear more about September Dawn. Good luck with the book and the DVD release. I wish you continued success.

Readers, if you click on the title of this post you'll be directed to September Dawn's Amazon.com page where you can purchase a copy of this historical romance novel.

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:


Dorothy said...

Fantastic interview, girls! I am thoroughly interested in this tour...I have no idea why the subject matter appeals to me as it does, but what an interesting back story. Driving along and this story comes out of nowhere! It's funny how you can take happenings in the past and form a story around them and what is more incredible is that Carole had never heard of the Mountain Meadows Massacre...actually before now, I hadn't either. I am so looking forward to the DVD when I get it. Great interview, girls...real impressed.

Anonymous said...

September Dawn is unbelievably inacurate and poorly done. Even Mormon critic Sandra Tanner said the movie was too sensationalistic and had too many historical errors.

Worse of all, rather than doing justice to all of those people killed at Mountain Meadows, the movie is so inacurate and over the top that it actually is an insult injustice to the memory of those victims. They deserve better than a horrible film and book like September Dawn.