Category Archives: Houdini Girl
The short film adapted from my novel, The Houdini Girl, is being screened in York this weekend as part of the 2014 Aesthetica Short Film Festival. The 11-minute film, made by Tomori Films and written and directed by Kfir Yefet, stars Jack Whitehall as Red and Laura Donnelly as Rosa in a steamy bedroom scene from near the beginning of the novel. It was shot in London last year with a view to attracting funding to make a full-length feature film.
Now in its fourth year, Aesthetica – a BAFTA-qualifying celebration of independent short film-making from around the world – is taking place from 6 – 9 November at 15 venues across York. The films span a diverse range of genres from comedy to music video, from drama to documentary and animation. The Houdini Girl is being shown with five other shorts in Drama Screening 9, which is running on Friday from 10.30am to 12.00, Saturday from 11.30 to 1.00 and Sunday from 12.00-1.30. The Friday and Sunday screenings are in the Pop-up Cinema, in the City Screen basement, 13-17 Coney Street, while the Saturday show is in the main City Screen auditorium.
Click here to visit the ASFF 2014 site, where you can view the full programme and buy tickets.
The film adapted from The Houdini Girl has been nominated in the best short-film category of the 2014 Norwich Film Festival, which runs from May 6th to 16th and features an international line-up. The 11-minute short, written and directed by Kfir Yefet and starring Jack Whitehall as Red and Laura Donnelly as Rosa, is being screened at the Norwich Odeon on Monday May 12th.
For full details of the festival please click here.
The short film of my novel The Houdini Girl has its premiere this weekend as part of the London Short Film Festival. The film, written and directed by Kfir Yefet, is being screened at the Rio independent cinema in Kingsland High Street, Dalston, E8, on Saturday, along with a crop of other love-related shorts, with the programme starting at 1.30pm. Here’s the blurb from the festival website:
Join us in the romantic art deco surroundings of the Rio Cinema in Dalston for a matinee of romantic dramas. There’s an all-star cast including MacKenzie Crook and Bronagh Gallagher in the award-winning romantic sci-fi space epic Orbit Ever After, Andrew Shim (Milky in This Is England) in bittersweet London love story Off Yer ‘Ead, a grizzled Rutger Hauer in Turn, and a serious turn from comedian Jack Whitehall in one-night stand drama The Houdini Girl.
Click here to view the full programme.
The short film of my novel The Houdini Girl has been selected for screening at the prestigious 2014 London Short Film Festival in January. Now in its 11th year, the LSFF (“the best short film festival in the world”, according to The Guardian Guide) is a showcase for cutting-edge UK independent film. In 2013 the festival sold more than 7,000 tickets to some 300 films, screened at the best independent cinemas and film venues across London. This year’s event, which runs from January 10th to 19th, attracted more than 1,200 submissions, so it’s a real coup for the team behind Houdini to secure a slot for their film.
The short, filmed in London earlier this year (see previous blog, March 5th), was made by Tomori Films, written and directed by Kfir Yefet and produced by Ofir Kedar and Guy Allon. It stars Jack Whitehall, stand-up comedian and star of the TV series Fresh Meat, and Laura Donnelly, a TV, theatre and film actor whose recent credits include Dread, Merlin, Missing and The Fall. Jack and Laura play Red and Rosa in a bedroom scene at the start of a tempestuous, tragic relationship. Tomori hope the screening at LSFF and other festivals will result in a deal to finance a full-length feature film of the novel.
It’s not often a review of a novel appears 15 years after the book was published. So, I was surprised and delighted to be sent a link to a wonderful (if very belated) write-up for The Houdini Girl by the highly respected and influential publisher, Scott Pack – a former buying manager at Waterstones who, in more recent years, has been heading up HarperCollins’ innovative imprint, The Friday Project.
Pack posted the review today on his blog, Me and My Big Mouth. I’ve taken the liberty of reprinting it in full, below:
Now You See Her
Years ago, before Amazon became the embodiment of evil to many, it was a site that mainly sold books and spent a lot of time and energy offering editorial content around the subject of books. There were editors’ picks and debuts to watch and well-known authors selecting their favourites and there was always a very good end of year round up put together by the various people behind the scenes. I am talking Amazon US here, the UK site back then was still pretty basic.
Anyway, towards the end of 1998 I bought a number of books based on the Amazon.com Best of the Year selection and pretty much all of them turned out to be wonderful. Tipping the Velvet is the one I tackled first, as I recall, but there was also An Ocean in Iowa by Peter Hedges, The Walled Orchard by Tom Holt and Memoirs of a Geisha as well as a few others that slip my mind right now. But there was one book I bought at that time, also part of that Best of the Year list, that I have only just got round to reading. I have no idea why I left it so long, the fact that I have too many bloody books probably has something to do with it, but I was wrong to do so. It has proved to be every bit as good as the others from that vintage year.
The Houdini Girl by Martyn Bedford is, I suppose, a mystery novel. One with added magic tricks. Fletcher Brandon, otherwise known as Peter Prestige, is a professional magician who enjoys a whirlwind romance with Rosa after he impresses her with a trick while at a pub with mutual friends. She moves in to his apartment that night, and proves to be a slightly crazy Betty Blue type character but the sex is amazing so Fletcher doesn’t care so much about her wild temper. Their relationship is tempestuous and, as it turns out, rather brief. One year after moving in Rosa dies after falling from a train. And that’s when the mysteries start to pile up. Why was Rosa was on a train from Oxford to Reading when she should have been at work? How come the version of her childhood she had told to Fletcher fails to match up with the one the police quickly unearth? And who has sent him Rosa’s missing bag containing a fake passport and a plane ticket to Amsterdam?
If you like a good thriller but want to avoid the usual police procedural or private eye stories then this is a refreshingly different spin. You also get the lowdown, but not the secrets, behind lots of magic tricks. You are genuinely kept guessing until the end and there are plenty of twists and teasing reveals as you go along. It is also fascinating to read a novel, especially a mystery novel, written just before the age of the internet and mobile phones. The Houdini Girl would not work if set in the present day because many of the plot points and problems Fletcher enounters would be easily resolved with a quick Google search or mobile phone call and while that clearly dates the novel it also adds a certain charm and integrity.
I thought this was lots of fun and, as they say, a real pageturner. One of the most enjoyable novels I have read this year. Sadly it is now out of print, which is a real shame as if this was published today social media would be all abuzz with it, so I can’t suggest you pop to your local bookshop to buy it but there are secondhand copies available online and it is available as an ebook.
A very nice review of the ebook of The Houdini Girl has appeared on The Jeep Diva book blog, which awards it four stars . . . and four flames, for erotic content. Here’s the review in full:
About the Book:
Fletcher ‘Red’ Brandon is a conjurer, an illusionist, a master of deception who uses his talents to seduce wild, impulsive Irish rose, Rosa, into his life with a simple sleight of hand. But when Rosa is killed, Red is pitched into a new world where betrayal, exploitation and violence are no act. The deeper Red delves into the life and death of the woman with who he shared one sexy, freewheeling year, the closer he comes to a painful realization: even the trickster can be tricked.
This was an interesting book to read, with a far more difficult review to compose as there are so many levels to this story it is often difficult to make sense without spoilers. First I will say, Martyn Bedford mastered the inclusion of multiple layers of depth in this story. A murder mystery at first glance, but so rich with metaphor and emotion, that to pigeonhole it as simply that is doing both story and author a great disservice.
By the title, I initially thought that he book would focus more on the magic than the characters, reality versus illusion and those who understand the depth of the illusions they create to entertain their audience. Illusions are described frequently throughout, with the simple lasting impression that the audience (or reader) is meant to find the reality stuck within. Although the whirlwind courtship and relationship between Red and Rosa was ‘real’ and is shown in several flashbacks that incorporate both erotic and more mundane moments, Red soon determines that much of the Rosa that he ‘knew’ was fabrication; the reality shared with him was laden with half-truths and outright deception. As he travels back to find her real history, he is faced with several moments that are both disturbing and provide revealing insight into her history and his own deeply held secrets and shames. Rosa is a highly damaged woman, so as one reads on to discover her history there are insights into the abuse that created such a wounded creature.
The language is not flowery, in fact the use of F*** is so prevalent that one becomes numbed to its use. All of the characters are drawn with defined personalities, even Merlin, the cat is detailed and acts within the confines that Bedford has designed. Characters grow as the story progresses, either in the readers understanding of them, or their understanding of themselves. The story is so compelling, with the questions about life, love, reality and illusion, that it breezes by. It is not a simple mystery, nor a simple love story, but facing reality and finding the real truth about who you are, and what you desire and how that meets or misses what you have found.
My novel, The Houdini Girl, has made it into film nearly fourteen years after it was first published. The novel has been under option to a production company for most of that period, with a script written by writer/director Kfir Yefet, and it has come close a couple of times to being made into a full-length feature. In the latest development, a short film has been shot showing a key scene from the novel with a view to attracting funding for the whole movie.
I went down to London recently to watch some of the filming and had a chance to meet the two lead actors – Jack Whitehall, stand-up comedian and star of the TV series Fresh Meat, and Laura Donnelly, an experienced TV, theatre and film actor whose recent credits include Dread, Merlin, Missing and The Fall. Jack and Laura play Red and Rosa in a bedroom scene at the start of a tempestuous, tragic relationship.
It was fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a shoot and to be on set while two actors brought the characters from my fiction to life before my eyes. The ten-minute short is a fine piece of work by all concerned, from cast to crew, and a creative coup for Kfir, who has kept the flame burning for this project since the beginning, despite the many setbacks that befall the transition of a novel from page to screen. The aim is to show this film at festivals and to use it as a pitch to secure the backing needed to get a feature-length movie into production.
The short was made by Tomori Films, written and directed by Kfir Yefet and produced by Ofir Kedar and Guy Allon. Click here for a link to the International Movie Database (IMDB) website for details and a full list of credits.
This week sees the resurrection of one of my early novels with the e-book publication of The Houdini Girl.
First published in 1999 by Viking, in hardback, then as a Penguin paperback, the rights to reissue the novel were recently acquired by Constable & Robinson, named as Independent Publisher of the Year in 2012. It comes out on October 25th as part of the Modern Erotic Classics series, edited by the writer and critic Maxim Jakubowski, who wrote a very complimentary review of The Houdini Girl when it first came out and was keen to include it in his list.
The book tells the story of Fletcher Brandon, aka Red, a professional magician, and his relationship with the wild, impulsive Rosa. When Rosa dies in mysterious circumstances, Red uncovers a web of deception and illusion far greater than anything he has conjured up on stage and is drawn into the dangerous Amsterdam underworld.
Here are some review quotes:
“Martyn Bedford is the genuine article, a writer of unmistakable flair and accomplishment . . . The Houdini Girl is masterfully choreographed.” Carey Harrison, The New York Times.
“The characters in Martyn Bedford’s persuasive novel will remain vividly in your mind . . . The Houdini Girl is an impressive achievement – elegantly crafted, utterly convincing and deeply felt.”
Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha.
“Gripping . . . a terrific achievement . . . spiced with plenty of smoking and boozing and sex [this novel] offers a sharp rebuke to the macho culture of the new lad. The Houdini Girl powerfully lays bare the exploitation and degradation of women in pornography.”
Toby Mundy, New Statesman.
The original publishers marketed it as a literary psychological thriller, which is pretty much how I regard it, so I was surprised when I heard of plans to reissue it as an erotic novel. It does contain explicitly erotic scenes and sex (or, at least, sexual exploitation) is a key element of the plot but readers hoping for something like Fifty Shades of Grey will be disappointed, I feel.
Nevertheless, I am flattered and delighted that a bold, cutting-edge publisher regards The Houdini Girl as a modern classic and that a novel I wrote fourteen years ago has been given a new lease of life.
If you wish to buy the ebook version, please click here to link to the novel’s page on the Constable & Robinson website.