When a treasure hunter discovers long-lost Nazi gold, he’s suddenly in much deeper than he expected – running for his life across Europe, unraveling secrets and lies with a beautiful ally who has some secrets of her own.
This is the story of The Alchemist Agenda, written by Marty Weiss first as a screenplay, and now as a novel. It was one of the first projects added to the Amazon Studios Movie Development Slate.
We asked Marty, a filmmaker based in Los Angeles, about the evolution of his story, writing for the page instead of the screen and what his Amazon Studios experience has been like.
Where did you get the idea for The Alchemist Agenda?
MARTY: I was working on the music for a film in Prague, had a lot of downtime to roam around the historic sites, and came across alchemy symbols and references in several places. Even my hotel bar was called The Alchemist Club. I learned that many Eastern Europeans had very influential (and varying) philosophical traditions involving alchemy, and I thought it would be so cool if they really did have the ability to turn base into gold, and had to protect it during their enormously violent political transitions before and after World War II.
Did you imagine it first as a book, or was it always a movie in your mind?
MARTY: At first it was a movie. I set the locations in visually striking cities that I had filmed in before, and wanted to return to. But soon after the first draft, I really wanted to explore the characters’ backstories and delve in deeper to some of the plot complexities. I had never written a novel before, and I didn’t really know what to do with it once it was finished—so I stuffed it in my desk drawer and forgot about it. Then the screenplay was optioned by Amazon Studios, and because of the publicity it received, the publisher contacted me to suggest that I write the story as a novel. I told him that would get right on it, and emailed him the manuscript five minutes later. Timing is everything.
Describe your hero, Charlie Rocklin, and how you decided what kind of man he would be.
MARTY: With a name like Rocklin, he had a lot to live up to. But I didn’t want him to be a superhero. He had to have significant physical abilities in order to overcome the obstacles that he and Ariel (his femme fatale love interest) would face, but I wanted him to have vulnerabilities, flaws, and personal fears to overcome throughout the journey as well. Ariel would fill in for his soft spots, and vice versa. They make a nice couple, I think, except when they bicker. Art should imitate life.
How did writing the script inform your writing of the novel?
MARTY: It truly served as an outline for the plot, though I did veer quite a bit. Screenplays are sparse in details, which makes them shorter, but not necessarily easier.