Writer Bethan Roberts from Brighton, gave Amazon and Berlanti Productions permission to create the feature-length of her 2012 literary hit My Policeman, with production now underway around the south coast.
Bethan, who studied for an MA in creative writing in Chichester, has become an award-winning author since graduating and has written a series of critically-acclaimed novels.
Bethan said: “I’m still in shock. I didn’t think the film would ever get made – only one per cent of movies that start as a novel get funded. I can confirm that Harry Styles and Emma Corrin are involved. The producers have been wonderful and have included me in some of their conversations.”
The film has taken about eight years to reach production, which is relatively quick for a book adaptation.
Bethan said. “Lots of it is luck but the filmmakers first need a strong script. Ron Nyswaner is the scriptwriter, who wrote Philadelphia among other incredible movies.”
My Policeman is the story of 1950s copper Tom (Harry Styles), his wife Marion (Emma Corrin) and his male lover, located in what was a very different Brighton from the vibrant seaside city of today.
Bethan said the novel is her favourite work to date.
“I’ve lived in Brighton since the mid-90s,” she added. “I became fascinated with the works of EM Forster, including his remarkable relationship with a policeman in the 1950s.
“They were in love for 30 years, during a time when homosexuality was illegal, but they managed to negotiate a shared relationship with his wife. I took some of their stories and built My Policeman on that.
“It was important that I set it in Brighton, not only because I live there, but because it was a different place in the 50s. Thankfully EM Forster had a much happier ending than in the book, not that I’m giving away any spoilers.”
Bethan also writes short fiction, including drama for BBC Radio 4, and is a previous recipient of the Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Prize and RA Pin Drop Award.
It was at Chichester, however, where she partly wrote her first book, The Pools, while finishing her MA degree.
The novel, based around the fallout of a murdered teen, landed her first book deal and propelled her onwards for further success – notably her 2014 award-winner Mother Island, which received the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered prize.
Bethan said: “My MA at Chichester turned around my attitude towards writing. It gave me great confidence, and I found people were reading my writing and enjoying it. What helped was sharing experiences with others and getting words on a page and learning how to read like a writer.”
No release date has been given for the Amazon film but it is expected to hit the big screen in 2022.
Find out on the University of Chichester’s MA in Creative Writing at www.chi.ac.uk/ma-creative-writing - or read about Bethan’s award-winning career at www.bethanrobertswriter.co.uk.