Drumming up a book
By Hope Brumbach
The first stab at penning the story of his childhood earned Liberty Lake resident Lyle Hatcher a prestigious screenwriting award - won by the likes of George Lucas and Ang Lee.
Hatcher and his writing partner, Don Caron, landed the Grand Remington for Best Screenplay in 2007 at the WorldFest Houston International Film Festival. Afterward, with funding in place, the pair expected the story would hit the big screen.
Then the economy tanked, the funding fell through and new sources proved fruitless. Nearly a year ago, determined to tell the story, the pair decided on a different format: a full-length novel.
Nine months later, "Different Drummers" is on the verge of release this fall as the first novel for the authors. It will be in limited release in Spokane to start, but the pair expects it to go nationwide quickly.
"I had the story in mind for 40 years, and I felt somehow it was time to tell it," said Hatcher, 53, a former investment broker. "I wanted to tell people something that would make people feel better about life. It was always there."
The book, released by sei Publishing, is a true-life tale set in 1965, when Hatcher was a 10-year-old boy on the North Side in Spokane. His path crosses with another fourth-grade student who couldn't be more different: Hatcher had what now is called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); his friend had muscular dystrophy.
Hatcher's real-life friend David Dalke, who died in 1967, is the basis for the character.
"David was a person who really put everything into perspective," Hatcher said. "I never forgot him. Never."
"It's hard to say what people will come away with because we didn't direct them. With any true story that deals with that subject, it's nothing you can put your hands on," Caron said. "It will be different for every individual who reads it. That's the beauty of it."
Hatcher and Caron teamed up when Hatcher decided to write and record a short version of the story. Hatcher took the project to Spokane-based North by Northwest Productions. Caron, a musician and composer and co-screenwriter of the 1999 film "The Basket," worked with him on the recording. Afterward, he tracked Hatcher down and insisted that the story needed to be told on a larger scale.
"He just said, ‘I'll quit my job, I'll spend every dime I've got, I'll do everything I have to do to write this,'" Hatcher said. "Sometimes people will ask us, what does it take to get to the place we are. You have to throw everything you have."
The pair spent countless hours in late 2006 writing the initial screenplay, merging Caron's writing skills with Hatcher's storytelling. The pair also regularly met with Dalke's mother, Gloria, who still lives in the same house. She pulled out memorabilia from David's childhood that she saved all these years, Hatcher said.
They entered the first draft in a screenplay competition at the San Fernando Valley International Film Festival. And they won. That fueled them to submit their work for the WorldFest award.
When the funding for the movie went south, "we messed with it for a year and didn't get another penny. And that's when we decided to write the book as an avenue to move the movie forward," said Caron, 54.
The pair says that the family-friendly message from the future movie - and also the book - would fill a void in the entertainment industry.
"When's the last time you turned on a television show that spoke to you?" Hatcher said. "This book tells something we've forgotten over the decades. The story reminds people, it's a blueprint of what it used to be. That perspective. We've lost it."
Hatcher and Caron say they're eager for the book release - and readers' reactions to it.
"What this book does, what I see it do," Hatcher said, "somehow it impacts every person who reads it, and something is left with them."
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