Issaquah author’s books jump to movie screen
May 24, 2011
By Laura Geggel
In a former life, before she began writing pieces that caught the attention of Hollywood, Sarah Gerdes ran a technology consulting business.
As a girl, Gerdes lived in Costa Rica and later Honduras, the fourth of six children. After high school, she established her reputation at a technology company in San Francisco and soon founded her own firm, working with clients including Microsoft, Sony, American Express and IBM.
Though a busy businesswoman and mother of three, Gerdes constantly returned to writing, her first love. She penned her first novella at age 13, and when she seriously returned to writing as an adult, she wrote about business, finishing the books “Navigating the Partnership Maze” and “The Overlooked Expert,” in addition to a children’s book she wrote for her son.
When her second pregnancy put her on bed rest, she had to downsize her company. Left with nothing to do but wait for the birth of her son, she began writing about a topic that grabbed the attention of Los Angeles producer Lucas Foster.
Gerdes wrote the authorized biography of the three Kim sisters, three teenagers discovered in South Korea during the Korean War. When the sisters arrived in America, they wowed the country with their acts — singing, playing more than 20 instruments and dancing.
Losses and addiction followed their lives of celebrity, making their story prime material for a big-screen movie.
A mutual friend introduced Gerdes to Foster, CEO of Warp Media Development. Foster has produced a number of hit films, including “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “Bad Boys,” “Jumper” and “Crimson Tide.”
Foster plans to turn “The Kim Sisters” into a feature attraction — like the musical “Chicago” — but the film is still in early production. During one of their many conversations in 2009, Gerdes asked Foster if he would look at her newly written work, an adventure time-traveling book for teenagers called “Chambers.”
“The first book that she sent me was this young adult novel and it was pretty good,” Foster said. “And I was kind of shocked, because that doesn’t happen often.”
He began counseling her on how to revise the book so he could more easily transform it into a movie. Foster visited Gerdes in Issaquah several times during her bed rest days, reworking parts of the novel.
For instance, Gerdes had written it in third person, but Foster advised her to change it to first person.
“I thought telling us of a first-person perspective would make it more intense and compelling for the reader,” Foster said. “She rewrote it that way and it was a lot better. It was already good, but it took a jump when she put it in the first person.”
He asked her to write five books, so if it panned out, fans would enjoy several movies. In “Chambers,” Gerdes’ time traveling teenagers — a twin boy and girl — learn they are part of an ancient lineage that must thwart evil every 52 years, a plot based on a belief of the Olmec nation.
In the first book, the twins time travel to ancient China to help a teenage emperor. In truth, historians are unsure whether the emperor survived a fire that burned his headquarters, or if he escaped and lived as a monk. In Gerdes’ story, she reconstructs history in a book that Bookbyte Digital publishing specialist Chris Fannon compared to the popular series “The Hunger Games” in terms of adventure and audience.
Gerdes published the first installment of “Chambers” online via Bookbyte Digital in May, and readers can purchase it for $2.99 through Amazon, barnesandnoble.com or iTunes. Publishing a regular hard copy of a book can take two to three years, and by working with Bookbyte Digital, Gerdes said she is able to gain a following for her books now, before the movie goes to the big screen.
Bookbyte Digital President Andres Montgomery has already published one of Gerdes’ books online, and is pleased his company helped her present it in an easy-to-read format.
“From our perspective, we think that it enables authors to get their content, what they create, out to the masses in a very cost-effective manner,” he said.
On the Hollywood front, “We’ve been developing it as a movie proposition, talking to writers, fundraising for it,” Foster said.
With two books aimed at movie theaters across the globe, Gerdes is hard at work on her next books.
“One thing about Sarah is she writes every day,” Foster said. “She is very prolific, she’s not messing around. She takes it very seriously.”
On the Web
Read about Sarah Gerdes’ works at www.sarahgerdes.com.
Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.