Screenplay Written, Movie Planned For Recent 'Press' Publication
Nov. 13, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
A book published by Sam Houston State University’s Texas Review Press in July has garnered so much attention that not only has it already been turned into a screenplay but a production company is planning to begin producing the independent film in the spring.
Starner Jones’s 183-page novel Purple Church is a tale of redemption set in a small town in Mississippi and Memphis.
Jones, a Memphis emergency room physician, channeled the struggles with faith he had experienced for a long time—and were further prompted after he and a girlfriend broke up around 2010—for his novel.
"It's a novel that tells the story of redemption. It's about a young and vulnerable preacher who was recently widowed and is tempted by the young and beautiful (stripper) Ashley," Jones said in an interview with the Memphis-based newspaper The Commercial Appeal.
After its release in July, Jones quickly found the Memphis-based Flashlight Media Group to adapt the novel into a feature film.
"I read the book, and the story itself I liked. It's home grown, a local story, and the characters are realistic," said Trey Reynolds, Flashlight company partner, who is adapting the novel into a screenplay. "It's not a sanitized version, but a real life version of how we all make good and bad decisions."
Reyolds, Clarksdale attorney Bill Luckett and Flashlight Media are currently working with investors to raise capital for production expenses and hope to have the screenplay in production by spring.
To Texas Review Press director and Texas State University System Regents’ Professor Paul Ruffin, the success of the book is no surprise. Since its release, it has also been awarded the George Garrett Fiction Prize.
"The plot is terrific. The characterization is great. And there are some wonderful lyrical passages that are as good as any literature I've read, and I read a lot of it," Ruffin told The Commercial Appeal.
Purple Church not only uses Jones’s experiences with religious struggles but also incorporates elements of Memphis reality. The title is a reference to a former strip club Platinum Plus that was raided by the FBI.
"It was just a horrible place,” Jones told the newspaper. “One of the owners went to prison."
Combining those elements, Jones said the story reveals some “dark and ugly scenes” that drip with “the South and religious symbolism.”
"I struggled for a long time. I never found any satisfactory answers to these deep and probing questions. Once my girlfriend and I broke up, it prompted those thoughts of faith and doubt and unmasked the struggle even more," he said.
In addition to doing promotions for his first novel, Jones is also currently working on his second novel and continuing his work as an emergency room physician.
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