Sarnia’s Brian Francis Debut Novel Will Become An Animated Series

Fruit, the debut novel by Sarnia author Brian Francis, is being developed into an animated series by Hawkeye Pictures of Toronto and Big Jump Entertainment of Ottawa.

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Fruit, the debut novel by Sarnia author Brian Francis, is being developed into an animated series by Hawkeye Pictures of Toronto and Big Jump Entertainment of Ottawa.

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The novel, published in 2004 and set in Sarnia in 1984, was a finalist for CBC’s Canada Reads in 2009.

“Fruit tells the story of 13-year-old Peter Paddington as he tries to fix everything that’s wrong with him before the end of his 8th year,” according to a description on the writer’s website. “Specifically, to lose weight, find a boyfriend, and shut up those talking nipples.”

Francis was born and raised in Sarnia where he presented The Observer and attended St. Clair High School. His latest book, Missed Connections: A Memoir in Letters Never Sent, was published in 2021.

“As I was writing Fruit, I remember wondering who could connect to the story of this not-so-typical boy and his search for acceptance,” Francis said in a press release. “But the years have shown me that we are all Peter Paddington at heart. I’m very excited to see the story in this new adaptation.

Director and screenwriter Pat Mills is adapting the novel into the animated series.

“It was given to me over 10 years ago by one of my closest friends who I’ve known since I was 14,” Mills said of Fruit.

“She said, ‘Pat, you have to read this. Reminds me of us.’”

Mills, who worked in film and TV for 15 years, said he was “completely connected” to the character of Peter who came of age in the pre-digital era.

“The comedy of dealing with your homosexuality, when there were no resources available to you, was something I could absolutely relate to and found so funny in retrospect,” Mills said.

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“I almost felt like I was reading my own childhood.”

Mills said he found the book “moving, yet hilarious and absolutely relatable”.

“I remember, just like Peter when I was a kid, I was bullied a lot because I was gay, but I wasn’t really ready to explore that yet,” he said. .

Often, in these circumstances, children escape into their own fantasy world, as the character in the novel does.

“I don’t think you need to be gay or queer to identify with Peter,” Mills said.

“I don’t think there’s anything more universal than feeling like an outsider at 13 and being uncomfortable in your own body.”

After going through those moments and reaching adulthood, “we’re desperate to laugh about it, and that’s what the book does so well, and what we want to do with this series,” Mills said.

He said everyone involved in the project is “on the same page, and we really want to honor the book and the character, and really lean into the comedy of the difficulty of growing up gay in the 80s.” .

The use of animation works well with the book’s elements of magical realism, Mills said.

He said the series should be aimed at adults and set in Sarnia.

pmorden@postmedia.com

Irene B. Bowles