Tribeca 2018: Author Tawni O’Dell on the Screenplay Adaptation of Her Book, ‘Back Roads’

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CHICAGO – For a first book author, there is probably no greater literary blessing than their work becoming a “Oprah’s Book Club” selection. Tawni O’Dell experienced that honor in 2000, for her novel “Back Roads.” Fast forward years later, and O’Dell adapted that novel – with Adrian Lyne – into a screenplay that became the film “Back Roads,” which screened at the 17th Tribeca Film Festival on April 20th, 2018.

Actor/Director Alex Pettyfer and Author Tawni O’Dell of ‘Back Roads’
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Directed by and featuring actor Alex Pettyfer, “Back Roads” is a stark and gritty story about a family whose mother (Juliette Lewis) is in prison for the killing of their abusive father. Harley (Pettyfer) is charged with taking care of his three sisters, including the wild and impulsive Amber (Nicola Peltz). In Harley’s attempt to keep it together, it seems that everything keeps unraveling. When another killing takes place in the town, the situation becomes darker and more complex.

Author Tawni O’Dell had written six unpublished novels and collected 300 rejection slips when “Back Roads” was published in 2000. The book received stellar reviews, which got the attention of Oprah Winfrey, and her influential Book Club. O’Dell’s career skyrocketed from there, as she has published five other novels. O’Dell lived in the Chicago area after graduating from Northwestern University, and now resides in her home state of Pennsylvania.

In the following Podtalk, Tawni O’Dell talks to – on the night of the Tribeca Film Festival screening of “Back Roads” – about the book-to-film process, and the amazing story of that call from Oprah.

The 2018 Tribeca Film Festival concluded on April 29th. For more general information on the 17th edition of the festival, click here. For more information on author Tawni O’Dell, click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2018 Patrick McDonald,

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