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Norwich writer nabs second Hollywood adaptation deal

PUBLISHED: 11:27 03 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:34 03 November 2016

Dr Mark Felton, a historian and writer from Norwich, has had a second book optioned by Hollywood film companies.

Dr Mark Felton, a historian and writer from Norwich, has had a second book optioned by Hollywood film companies.

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A major movie distribution company has snapped up the film rights for a Norwich writer’s daring World War Two escape tale.

Cover art for Zero Night by Mark Felton. Photo: Icon Books Ltd Cover art for Zero Night by Mark Felton. Photo: Icon Books Ltd

Little more than a year after Hollywood first came calling to option one of his narrative non-fiction books, Dr. Mark Felton found himself experiencing a sense of déjà vu, as yet another film company approached him for the same reason.

The 42-year-old father-of-one, who lives in Norwich, has successfully crafted a career out of researching and writing about military history and to date has published 19 books.

Last year saw his 16th book, Zero Night: The Untold Story of World War Two’s Most Daring Great Escape, get picked up by Essential Media & Entertainment, the production company behind the 2013 hit period drama, Saving Mr. Banks, starring Tom Hanks.

The Zero Night adaptation is already well into the pre-production stages according to Dr Felton, who has subsequently been recruited as a consultant on the movie.

“I signed the option deal for Zero Night in April 2015 and since then things have really been moving forward,” he said. “It’s really interesting to see the screenplay being constructed from a history book, I’ve read a first draft for the movie and it’s very good, a little different from the book but that’s always to be expected.”

He added: “They’ve just renewed the film option for another year, so they’re definitely keen to make the movie and I’m hoping to start hearing news about directors and actors soon.”

The cover art for Castle of the Eagles by Dr Mark Felton, which is set for release in 2017. Photo: Icon Books The cover art for Castle of the Eagles by Dr Mark Felton, which is set for release in 2017. Photo: Icon Books

His forthcoming book, Castle of the Eagles: Escape from Mussolini’s Colditz, will also be receiving the Hollywood treatment, as Entertainment One films has just snapped up the movie rights for the tale.

The gripping true story of wartime courage was written using official documents and personal memoirs and follows a group of British and Commonwealth officers being held prisoner in an ‘escape-proof’ war camp, on the personal order of Benito Mussolini.

“We started talks about adapting Castle of the Eagles a year ago. Back then I had only written about four chapters of the book but Entertainment One read the overview for the rest of the story and made an offer straight away.

“I was absolutely thrilled, they’re such a massive company and the producer has recently worked on the film Spotlight, which won Best Picture at the 2016 Academy Awards, so it’s safe to say the project is in good hands.”

Castle of the Eagles is set for release in February 2017 and Dr Felton has already begun working on his 20th book, Ghost Riders, another thrilling and lesser known story from World War Two about the rescue of the world’s most famous horses by the US Army from the Czech Republic in April 1945.

• For more information visit www.markfelton.co.uk

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