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Boyce, Frank Cottrell (Martin Hardy)

Boyce, Frank Cottrell (Martin Hardy)

PERSONAL:

Married; wife's name Denise; children: seven. Education: Keble College, Oxford, degree. Religion: Roman Catholic.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Liverpool, England.

CAREER:

Screenwriter and novelist. Former television critic for Living Marxism magazine; creator and writer of Captain Star (animated television series). Participates in writing workshops.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award (with others), 1993, for Coronation Street; British Academy of Film and Television Artist Award nomination for best screenplay, 1999, for Hilary and Jackie; London Guardian Children's Fiction Prize shortlist, and Carnegie Medal, both 2004, both for Millions (novel); Humanitas Prize; British Independent Film Award for best screenplay, 2005, for Millions (film); Digital Departures Award shortlist, 2007, for Grow Your Own.

WRITINGS:

YOUNG-ADULT NOVELS

(Adaptor) Millions (novel; based on Boyce's screenplay; also see below), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Framed, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.

SCREENPLAYS

The Real English Eddy (television miniseries), Channel 4, 1989.

Forget about Me, Thames Television, 1990.

Coronation Street (television series), ITV, 1991.

A Woman's Guide to Adultery, Hartwood Films, 1993.

Butterfly Kiss, British Screen Productions, 1995.

Saint-Ex, British Broadcasting Company, 1996.

New York Crossing, Videa, 1996.

Welcome to Sarajevo (produced by Miramax, 1997), Faber & Faber (London, England), 1997.

Hilary and Jackie, October Films, 1998.

Pandaemonium, Moonstone Entertainment, 2000.

The Claim (produced by United Artists, 2000), Screen-press Books, 2002.

24 Hour Party People, United Artists, 2002.

Revengers Tragedy, Fantoma, 2002.

Code 46, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2003.

Millions, Fox Searchlight, 2004.

(Under pseudonym Martin Hardy) A Cock and Bull Story, Newmarket Films, 2005.

(With Carl Hunter) Grow Your Own, Pathé Distribution, 2007.

ADAPTATIONS:

Millions and Framed were both adapted as audiobooks by Harper Audio, 2004 and 2007 respectively.

SIDELIGHTS:

As a screenwriter, British author Frank Cottrell Boyce is best known for his work on the critically acclaimed films Welcome to Sarajevo, 24 Hour Party People, and Hilary and Jackie. During his career he has collaborated with such highly regarded directors as Michael Winterbottom, Alex Cox, Julien Temple, and Danny Boyle, "becoming arguably the most versatile screenwriter in the land," according to Chicago Sun-Times online critic Roger Ebert. In 2004, Boyce gained a new audience—a reading audience—with publication of his highly praised young-adult novels, Millions and Framed. Based on a film also by Boyce, Millions earned its author the prestigious Carnegie Medal in 2005.

Boyce began his career on the small screen, penning the script for the television miniseries The Real English Eddy, and he then spent a year working on the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street. In 1990 he paired with Winterbottom on the television film Forget about Me; the duo went on to collaborate on several other films, including Welcome to Sarajevo, A Cock and Bull Story, and 24 Hour Party People.

Set in 1992, Welcome to Sarajevo looks at the civil war in the former Yugoslavia through the eyes of an English reporter. According to New York Times critic Janet Maslin, "the film's best moments are its smallest ones, the casual contrasts between the lives of interloping journalists and those of people watching their homeland torn apart." Boyce told Ebert that the film "was made with great spirit. Michael insisted on shooting it in Sarajevo in the face of incredible difficulties. It was a Herzogian thing to do." 24 Hour Party People follows the career of Tony Wilson, a cantankerous, egomaniacal television journalist turned music impresario whose record label, Factory Records, helped launch the careers of New Order and Happy Mondays, among other groups. "I utterly love this film," Boyce admitted to Ebert. "It's a hymn to Manchester, and to Tony Wilson who is reviled and laughed at in Manchester for being pretentious and pompous. I think in these times being pretentious is sort of heroic, and I hope the film makes that case for him."

Hilary and Jackie, directed by Anand Tucker, concerns the emotionally charged relationship between renowned cellist Jacqueline du Pre and her sister, Hilary. In the words of New York Times critic Stephen Holden, "this study of two gifted sisters who are so close they can literally read each other's minds is an astoundingly rich and subtle exploration of sibling rivalry and the volcanic collisions of love and resentment, competitiveness and mutual dependence that determine their lives."

In Millions, Boyce tells the story of a young boy who discovers a fortune in cash. When thieves toss a bag of loot off a passing train, it is picked up by Damien, a sweet, naïve fourth grader who obsesses over the patron saints, patterning his life after theirs. Damien's older brother, Anthony, convinces his sibling that the money—more than 20,000 British pounds—must be spent immediately before the nation converts to the Euro. "There's plenty of excitement as the deadline approaches and the brothers' secret becomes known," wrote School Library Journal critic Steven Engelfried of the novel. As London Guardian reviewer Adèle Geras observed, "the main joy of the novel … is Damian's voice. We see everything through his eyes, and his account of what's going on is funny, direct and very often moving."

The film version of Millions also earned strong praise. Salon.com contributor Stephanie Zacharek called it "an incredibly sweet-tempered picture about the human impulse toward generosity." Discussing his decision to adapt his screenplay as a young-adult novel, Boyce explained to a London Telegraph Online contributor that the film's director, Danny Boyle, initially encouraged him in his dream of writing for children. "I'd already made every wrong move possible while working out the screenplay," Boyce admitted in his interview. "So by the time I sat down to write the book I was really confident of the story. I finished the novel while we were shooting the film, so I could wander round the set and talk to my characters, which was fantastic. I mean, ["Narnia" series author] C.S. Lewis could never go and ask Aslan's view on anything."

Boyce's second teen novel, Framed, was inspired by the author's visits to London's National Gallery of Art, as well as the stories of how Britain's art treasures were hidden in mines below the gallery to keep them out of German hands during World War II. Another inspiration, an art theft in Scotland, serves as the central focus of the novel. In Framed, nine-year-old Dylan Hughes lives with his family in Manod, Wales, where they operate the Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel. Life changes for everyone in Manod when, in response to widespread flooding in London, a convoy of trucks appears, carrying artworks from the National Gallery to a nearby slate quarry for temporary storage. Gradually, the art caretakers begin to reach out to Manod's residents, and the presence of great works of art bolsters the sagging spirits of the town. However, the mood is threatened by Dylan's younger sister, who plots to improve her family's lot by stealing several works of art. "Boyce's signature daffiness plays hilarity and pathos off each other with not one wrong note," concluded a Kirkus Reviews writer in a review of Framed. While Booklist critic Cindy Dobrez described the novel as "a quieter book" than Boyce's Carnegie Medal-winning debut, the critic nonetheless predicted that teens who share a belief in "the importance of art will be charmed." Framed features the "same charm and deadpan humor" as Millions, according to School Library Journal contributor Connie Tyrrell Burns, and in the London Guardian Philip Ardagh wrote that Boyce's characters are compelling and endearing, and his "lightness of touch is a delight." "I don't know how hard Frank Cottrell Boyce finds it to write," Ardagh concluded, "but he makes it seem easy, which is the mark of a true master."

Though the lure of Hollywood remains strong, Boyce continues to work in the smaller, less lucrative British film industry. As the screenwriter once jokingly told Ebert, "I'm not sure that I'm that successful! I think I've probably let others do all the moving and shaking for me. Living far away from London may have something to do with it. People hesitate about calling you down to meetings so you never get sacked. Maybe people don't want to sack someone who's got so many mouths to feed!"

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 2004, Cindy Dobrez, review of Millions, p. 1932; September 1, 2006, Cindy Dobrez, review of Framed, p. 125.

Guardian, March 13, 2004, Adèle Geras, "Holly, Lolly, and Searching for Saint Maureen," review of Millions; September 24, 2005, Philip Ardagh, review of Framed.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2004, review of Millions, p. 626; August 1, 2006, review of Framed, p. 982.

New York Times, May 3, 1996, Stephen Holden, "A Femme Fatale Who Takes Her Calling Literally"; November 26, 1997, Janet Maslin, "Dangers and Jitters of Life in Sarajevo"; December 30, 1998, Stephen Holden, "Discordant Concerto, Played upon Two Hearts"; April 20, 2001, Stephen Holden, "In the Accents of Thomas Hardy, a Tale of the Gold-Hungry Old West"; July 13, 2001, Lawrence Van Gelder, review of Pandaemonium; August 9, 2002, Elvis Mitchell, Megalomania as an Unembarrassed Art Form"; August 6, 2004, A.O. Scott, "A Future More Nasty, Because It's So Near"; March 11, 2005, Manohla Dargis, "Before Soaring Imagination Is Grounded by Convention."

School Library Journal, October, 2004, Steven Engelfried, review of Millions, p. 158; August, 2006, Connie Tyrell Burns, review of Framed, p. 116.

ONLINE

Chicago Sun Times Online,http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/ (March 13, 2005), "Millions Writer Wins ‘Lottery.’"

HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/ (August 28, 2007), "Frank Cottrell Boyce."

Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (March 11, 2005), Stephanie Zacharek, review of Millions.

Telegraph Online (London, England), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/ (October 7, 2005), "A Writer's Life: Frank Cottrell Boyce."

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