On paper it sounds too good to be true: A first-time author gets a literary agent and her debut novel published in less than a year. Shortly after, not one but two film producers come calling.
Saint-Lazare author Merwie Garzon’s debut novel Blaze of Glory has interest from a TV producer. We also recognize Weltina (Velvet). (Kristina Edson)
For single mother Merwie Garzon, 43, of Saint-Lazare, the true story is nevertheless a work in progress that may or may not allow her to buy a new dishwasher sometime soon.
Garzon wrote her debut novel, Blaze of Glory, (Virtualbookworm.com Publishing Inc., 2011) three years ago, when her son was 2-years-old and her daughter was four. A fledgling author, Garzon had turned to writing after turning away - due to an injury – from a competitive career in the equestrian world, and later one on Bay Street in Toronto where she worked as a corporate analyst.
“It was a good job, but I was unhappy, although I didn’t admit it to myself,” Garzon said.
It was only after having children and seeing their fascination with horses that she began to renew her love affair with the equine world.
“One day, I woke up and started writing. I know it sounds all melodramatic, but I can’t overstate the case here - this story was demanding to be told,” she said.
The single mom who makes a living doing corporate contract work, wrote Blaze of Glory while her children napped, late at night and “in my head while driving.”
Once the first draft was completed, Garzon taught herself the basics on getting a book published, and soon landed a British Columbia based literary agent.
Not long after, her agent garnered the attention of a boutique publishing firm in Texas and Blaze of Glory was published and released.
But Garzon’s serendipitous journey did not end there. Thanks to Facebook and the rekindling of an old friendship, Blaze of Glory came to the attention of Hollywood film and television producer Pieter Kroonenburg.
“Long ago in Laval I gave riding lessons to his daughter. She read the book and gave it to her father, who also read it and thought it would make a great film or TV show,” Garzon said.
But Kroonenburg’s schedule meant she would have to wait close to a year to see the deal go through.
Meanwhile, Montreal film and television producer Murray Shostak, who was involved in the development of Heartland, a Canadian TV drama also set in the horse world came across a copy of the book at the Crazy Carousel Tack Shop in Hudson.
“I have two passions, horses and producing film and television, and I’m at the point in my career that I want to combine the two,” Shostak said during a phone interview, adding his 16-year-old daughter, a rising star in the world of dressage riding, also read and loved the book.
Shostak approached Garzon and optioned the film and television rights.
Shostak feels Blaze of Glory would make a good TV series, and one he could see filmed in Saint-Lazare.
“I know Saint-Lazare, I’ve been involved in the horse world all my life and I think it would be a good setting,” he noted.
There is still work to be done before that could happen, however, including putting together what Shostak calls “the bible,” a book to include a script for a pilot episode, as well as up to 12 additional story ideas.
“”We use that to approach television networks in Canada or the U.S. and if I make a sale we film the pilot,” he explained.
Garzon says both producers mentioned positive reviews the book had garnered as reason for their interest. “One reviewer compared it to a cross between Twilight and The Horse Whisperer, and another said it put her in mind of Water for Elephants. So perhaps there’s something cinematic about (my book,)” Garzon said.
About the book
Blaze of Glory tells the story of 17-year-old Tea, who runs an equestrian centre in southern Ontario with her twin brother and father. Still dealing with the death three years earlier of her mother, Tea soon finds herself fighting blossoming feelings for a young man who is a cousin by marriage, but not by blood. Though they are drawn to each other both know the relationship would not be accepted by others in the family.
“Tea is a talented jumper-rider who had the misfortune to fall in love with the wrong person,” Garzon, who is currently working on a sequel to Blaze of Glory, explained.
The book is also filled with several equine characters some of which are based on horses Garzon worked with in her career including Schweppes, a palomino.
And though she’s thrilled with her book’s initial success, Garzon says she hopes it will translate to a level of financial success that will allow her soon to simply purchase a new dishwasher.
“I’m a single mother without a dishwasher, so I would be happy to make enough money to buy one,” she said with a laugh.
Merwie Garzon will host a book signing for Blaze of Glory at the Saint-Lazare Library on Feb. 18. The book can be purchased at Crazy Carousel Tack Shop, Sandridge Saddlery (both located in Saint-Lazare) and on-line through most major retailers including Chapters and Amazon. For a list of websites selling the Blaze of Glory, go to Garzon’s website at www.mgarzon.ca.