Book may become movie
Mary Worthen of Salem keeps busy. She is mother, a published author, an activist for Native American rights and a nationally recognized advocate for mental health awareness. In 2005 her efforts led to the establishment of the Fulton County medicine program that helps low income families buy needed medications at a reduced price. Worthen spreads herself thin, but her efforts are no longer going unrecognized.
On Nov. 30, Worthen went to check her e-mail, and to her complete shock, there was a letter from screenwriter Wendy Biller. In this letter Biller said she and her collaborator, Chris Hawthorne, were interested in the possibility of turning Worthen's novel, Journey Not Chosen, Destination Not Known, into a movie.
Worthen's novel tells the story of her struggles dealing with her bi-polar daughter, Kristy. The book presents an account of the difficulty that both Worthen and her daughter faced in trying to find the cause of Kristy's problem.
Worthen said her book discusses a time when both she and Kristy knew there was a problem; they struggled finding a definite diagnosis.
Worthen's book is unique in that is not only contains the narrative, but it also includes a glossary of terms related to understanding mental illnesses, a list of educational resources and a list of medications involved in the treatment of mental illnesses.
Worthen said she is proud of her book and thinks it is a useful tool for promoting awareness of mental health issues. "I have spoken with some of the doctors and colleges that use this," Worthen said. "They see it as a handbook because it has scientific information as well as the patient's perspective."
In her Nov. 30 letter to Worthen, Biller wrote, "The story of both you and your daughter was both moving and powerful. I cannot get your story out of my head ... this would make an inspiring film that would be very inspiring to women all over the country."
Since the initial letter, Worthen has spoken several times to both Biller and Hawthorne via e-mails and telephone calls, Worthen said.
Worthen said the screenwriting team has presented her with an options contract. This means that Worthen would give Biller and Hawthorne the rights to try to sell the story to studios or networks like Lifetime and Hallmark. If a studio becomes interested, Biller and Hawthorne will then write the screenplay for the book.
"We've not talked about money yet," Worthen said. "Once we find a financier, that's when money will change hands."
Worthen said she is excited about the possibilities that could come with the movie deal. "Yes, the possibility of money is nice, but that's not my main concern," Worthen said. "There's still such a stigma attached to mental health issues; the opportunity to help someone is what's important."
Worthen said she and Kristy will be at the Bread of Life Book Store in Melbourne for a book signing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec 15.