Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the today's release of your debut novel, Double Exposure! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Alfred Gough and Miles Millar: Double Exposure is a globe-trotting Cold War thriller. Set in the 1960s, it centers on David Toland, who is the first of the Film Archivist at the Library of Congress. He’s the Robert Langdon of film restoration. His life is turned upside down when the CIA gives him a mysterious reel of badly decomposed film that has been smuggled across the Berlin Wall. When he restores the film, he unlocks a devastating secret and is forced to embark on a wild hunt around the world to uncover the truth.
We were inspired by the idea of creating a page-turner. We wanted the novel to have the same narrative propulsion of a movie. A one-sitting read that had plenty of twists and turns, exotic locales, and a dynamic hero at its heart. We are screenwriters and all our movies and TV shows have a sense of fun and wish-fulfillment, so those were important elements too.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in writing the book, and what have been some of your creative influences?
AG/MM: We have been writing together for 25 years. Which is a lot longer than most marriages. We have always treated writing as a job. We work 9 to 5 and usually write in the same room. The most important and collaborative process for us is breaking the story and writing the outline. We spend hours nomading between various Los Angeles cafes and coffee shops talking through the characters and plot points. Only when we feel we have a solid outline do we launch into a draft. Our outlining process has morphed over the years but with this novel we ended up with a 30 page treatment that defined every plot point and character turn. The process was no different than writing a screenplay, it just took a lot longer.
Double Exposure was influenced by our love of John MacDonald, John LeCarre, and Ian Fleming but also a vast array of movies - Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, The Third Man, and the Jason Bourne Trilogy to name a few.
BD: Likewise, how would you describe your transition from writing for a visual medium to one left solely to the reader’s imagination, and what motivated you to take on this new challenge?
AG/MM: Screenwriting teaches you incredible discipline; it doesn’t tolerate self-indulgence or excess description or dialogue. You also have to confine your story to 120 pages. It means you have to learn to verbally "paint" a scene in as few words as possible while still giving a visceral sense of what you what the "viewer" to see.
It seems obvious, but every film and TV show starts with someone sitting down and reading. Screenplays are the most valuable currency in Hollywood. People think studio executives spend their weekends snorting cocaine and partying – the reality is they are locked away reading stacks of screenplays – hoping to find a script that inspires them. Screenwriting is about capturing the imagination of the director, the actors, and the studio financiers. It all starts with a person sitting down and reading a script. The words, dialogue, and story presented in a screenplay have to be so compelling that all these people are willing to risk their time, reputations, and millions of dollars making it a reality. So, while the end result is visual the most important part of the process – getting the greenlight to make the movie – is actually the same as reading a novel.
Our motivation was finding the best medium to tell this particular story and learning the process of publishing from the inside. Both were incredibly rewarding and eye-opening.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from Double Exposure?
AG/MM: Our hope is that people will buckle up and enjoy the ride. We want them to fall in love with the characters and be surprised by the twists and turns of the plot. In a world filled with a million distractions, if a reader has invested their time and money in us then we want to deliver a fully realized story that is deeply satisfying from beginning to end. As readers of novels, we are so often frustrated by anticlimactic endings. The writing may be top notch, but if a book doesn’t deliver a dynamic narrative, then it’s a fail – at least that’s our opinion. Ultimately, we want readers to feel they were entertained and that they can’t wait to dive into another novel featuring our hero, David Toland.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the world of Double Exposure into future novels or even into other entertainment mediums?
AG/MM: Very much so. We originally conceived this as a movie, but quickly realized that it’s a budget-buster. Too many locations. Period setting. Insane amount of action. So, we pivoted to novel form. Now the book is finished, we would love turn it into a Netflix series. We are in the Golden Age of Television, and the structure of Double Exposure feels perfectly suited to a long-form TV series. It’s binge-worthy, and the settings are so visual that it would be ideal for an adaptation. What’s attractive about TV over film is that we wouldn’t have to abridge the narrative, we could tell the full story.
Future novels all depend on the success of the first, but we’ve already written the outlines for two follow-ups. All start with our hero restoring a piece of film that propels him into an unexpected global adventure.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
AG/MM: We have spent the last four years producing two television series on opposite sides of the world: The Shannara Chronicles and Into the Badlands. Shannara is based on the fantasy books by legendary author, Terry Brooks, and was shot in New Zealand. Badlands was our original creation and is an epic martial arts drama that we filmed on location in New Orleans and Dublin, Ireland. Both were "world building" shows and required a huge amount of effort to produce. They are on Netflix, so readers should definitely check them out.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Double Exposure?
AG/MM: Amazon! But also our website, millargoughink.com.
Alfred Gough and Miles Millar are the authors of DOUBLE EXPOSURE (March 26, 2019; Grand Central/Hachette). They are also screenwriters and showrunners who have worked extensively in film and television but are best known for creating the iconic series, Smallville. The duo’s latest hit, Into the Badlands, is in its third season on AMC-TV. They met while attending the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC and have been creative partners ever since.
Photos by Jay Goldman