It’s not everyday that I’m given the opportunity to talk to the author of a intriguing book that was adapted into a screenplay and produced into a film. I want to say, ‘luck of the Irish’ but I am mostly German. I will instead thank the members, Rusty Nixon, James Clayton and Blaine Anderson of Motorcycle Boy Productions for putting me in contact with Elizabeth Engstrom.
Elizabeth wrote the novel in the 80’s and was approached by screenwriter/director Rusty Nixon fifteen years ago to purchase the rights to the story. Because this is show business, there are always various reasons why productions get postponed. It had been adapted by Rusty Nixon and went through a variety of producers and financers before it finally came to fruition.
The film Candiland is spelled with an I instead of a Y I am supposing for Canadian reasons. US and Canada have slightly variations of the same word, oddly enough.
The story is a work of fiction and dark fantasy. It follows the path of two dysfunctional people (James Clayton and Chelah Horsdal) that meet at a club and go back to the guys apartment for some frolicking. Together, the couple decide to not leave the apartment again and begin to fear the outside world. They begin to create their own world of Candiland where they are Gods and have mystical powers. Unfortunately, they slip deeper and deeper into despair and madness until the mans father, played by Gary Busey intervenes to attempt to save his son from certain demise.
The idea of the story came to Elizabeth after she heard a psychologist state that personality does not function in solitude. She wondered if solitude was different than being alone. She chose to expand on the idea and explore the idea of what would happen if two socially dysfunctional people went back to the mans apartment, had some fun n games and everything is wonderful until suddenly they become afraid to leave and fear the outside world. Sometimes asking the ‘what if’ becomes the motivation behind some of the best stories, such as Candyland.
“When you began your research, what did you discover about solitude?”
“Interesting enough, they reverted from adulthood to childlike behavior. The next phase of transformation is religious fanaticism and then reverting into superstition. The last phase is the process of evolving into animalism. Studies revolving around other methods of prolonged solitary confinement lead to madness.”
Elizabeth states that although their solitude is self-inflicted, they come to the party with a particular set of damages that help them along the path of destruction. Many of us have trouble looking away knowing a train wreck is about to happen. I believe that is the most compelling reason to keep watching this film. The anticipation of turning each corner and knowing the wheels would eventually come off the tracks kept me watching in spite of it all. Guilty as charged.
“Have you had other books adapted and produced?”
“I have had a few others optioned and I’ve adapted a novel into a screenplay myself. However, this is the first one produced. I have a few other stories that I believe would translate well into film. I must add that it has been a thrill to work with Rusty on the screenplay. I had some input which he was very receptive with. Most times when you sell the rights to your story, you lose all rights and cut out of all decisions regarding the film. That didn’t happen with this production. They continued to keep me in the loop and actually gave me a cameo in the film. This is always an authors dream. I visited the set early in the production and was so impressed with the actors commitment and transformation. James Clayton lost fifty-five pounds while filming. Rusty’s soft directors touch and kind word pulled everyone’s best performance out on set. It was a joy to watch is style. I would love to work with him again.”
“Have you always written the same type of genre?”
“I’ve always been interested in probing the depths of what we can become if given the right set of circumstances. I could never writer a love story but I love to write a good horror.”
Elizabeth has always known she’d be a writer. She wrote her first story at the age of ten. It was about twins battling aliens. She sold her advertising company which gave her the freedom to continue writing from home and raise her two children. She sold her first book right out of the gates and has just completed her sixteenth novel. The last novel to go on sale was Baggage Check and her latest novel, Benediction Denied slated to go on sale in May.
You can find Candyland on Amazon.com, Ebook’s and Audible. It’s also available as a collection ten stories in the volume, The Alchemy Of Love.