Friday, September 6, 2013

THE SPREAD EAGLE -- As It Exists In Our Modern World

Hello fans of GREEN DARKNESS--

This is part II in our Q & A e-interviews with the managers of locales mentioned in Anya Seton's novel GREEN DARKNESS.

Edward James, General Manager at The Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa, kindly took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.

Q: How many visitors come to The Spread Eagle in a year?

A: At least 30,000.

Q: Of those, how many make mention of their being there because of the novel GREEN DARKNESS and/or its author Anya Seton?

A: A low proportion sadly but it is not a question we normally pose. [We learned that, unlike Cowdray Castle, there isn't a gift shop at The Spread Eagle, so they don't sell copies of GREEN DARKNESS to their visitors/customers.]

Q: Are any of those visitors doing a tour of the other locales mentioned in the novel? Is The Spread Eagle listed on any official tours of locations in GREEN DARKNESS, the novel? Does The Spread Eagle do any tie-in connections to Ightham Mote?

A: I have never pursued this form of interest, as I have failed to make good connection with any interested parties. It is a shame. [Perhaps this Q & A session will increase the interaction between neighboring GREEN DARKNESS locales or spur the formation of clubs to develop such tour connections.]

Q: The outside of the building appears to have the charm of yesteryear, how has the interior changed? How much of it is still authentic from the Tudor period? How old is the building?

A: The building is listed [with The National Trust] and therefore we have not been able to change it too much, but we have all the modern conveniences inside so one could say it has changed massively.  The White Room where Anya Seton stayed has remained as is, although since the building's conception, enormous changes have occurred in that particular room.  The oldest part of the building is the lounge bar and the Queens suite and this has remained relatively untouched, leaving it true to its Tudor origins of c.1430.

Q: When did it change from Tavern to Hotel Spa? Which was it when author Anya Seton was there? How has it changed much since?

A: The exact date of the designation change is unknown, but probably pre 1793. The two buildings were joined in about 1840 when it became a hotel.  Though it was an Inn (as opposed to a Tavern) for much of that time, this was where wealthy individuals would stay overnight.  The Spa was built in 1997.  It was only a hotel when Anya Seton wrote her book.  There have been lots of cosmetic changes, but most bits are still here and intact.

Q: Are there artifacts from past centuries displayed around The Spread Eagle?

A: There are many all around the hotel that have historical interest. [Edward advises us that unfortunately he cannot provide any more details about these artifacts.]

Q: Have any ghosts have been recorded as residing at The Spread Eagle? Any suggestions as to who they might have been while they were alive?

A: There are many ghosts that apparently move around the hotel. There are suggestions as to who they are, but I cannot name them, sadly.  Their pictures are hung around the property.

Q: Please give us your official website so GREEN DARKNESS fans who cannot get to England can take a virtual tour of this majestic estate.


The official website has some stunning photos of The Spread Eagle. Do check it out.

Check back here for part III of the series -- a Q & A for Ightham Mote!

Keep spreading the word of this blog. It gives us more ammunition to promote our screenplay adaptation to prospective producers.

Until next time--
Marla & Angela

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

GREEN DARKNESS Locations Alive Today

GREEN DARKNESS takes place in locations that are still around today!

Angela and I have been busy contacting the owners and/or managers of the four most prominent sites in GREEN DARKNESS ( Cowdray Castle, Naworth Castle, Ightham Mote and the Spread Eagle Tavern) to see what life is like at those locations in our modern times.

First to respond to our inquiry was Becky Taylor from the Estate Office of Cowdray Heritage Trust.

She prefaced her answers to our questions by saying: "I believe that Anya Seton stayed at the Spread Eagle Hotel in Midhurst while she was researching Green Darkness, and the hotel is still open to the public. It’s a beautiful old building.  St Ann’s Hill, which is also mentioned frequently in the novel, is still much as it has always been, and is accessible by a footpath leading from the ruins where the bridge crosses the river Rother." Becky went on to say, "While Cowdray is disappointingly free of  'spooky goings on' it is very beautiful and atmospheric, and I can completely understand why Anya Seton found it inspiring."

Now for our short Q & A e-interview with Becky...

Q: How many visitors come to Cowdray Castle during the months it is open (June through to September)?

A: The opening this year is very different to previous years, when the site was open five days a week from March to October. This year we have only been able to open for 28 days. By the time we close on 1st September I would think visitor numbers would be about 1,000, not including the guests of the three weddings held at Cowdray this year.

Q: Of those, how many make mention of the novel GREEN DARKNESS and/or its author Anya Seton?

A: I don’t think many of our visitors come here because of the novel (or at least they don’t admit to it), but a lot of them notice it for sale in our gift shop and ask about the connection. Many of them have very fond memories of reading it when it was first published.

Q: Are any of those visitors doing a tour of the other Sussex locales mentioned in that novel?

A: Occasionally a visitor will mention visiting Ightham Mote.

Q: We see that you close to tourists on September 1st -- do you still open at the end of October specifically to hold Halloween festivities at Cowdray Castle? If so, tell us about that night's events.

A: No, there are no Halloween Festivities at Cowdray. [online research shows that such activities used to be held at Cowdray. See the following link for info and good picture of Cowdray... ]

Q: How many ghosts have been recorded as residing at Cowdray? and who do you suspect they were while they were alive?

A: There are no regular ghost sightings at Cowdray, which is generally a very peaceful and happy place. There have been reports of ghostly figures over the years, including a lady in one of the first floor windows and a pale figure in the surrounding woods, but I have to admit that I have yet to be convinced that there is anything there. As far as we can tell there were never any suspicious deaths at Cowdray, and no one was killed in the fire that destroyed the building in 1793.

Q: Can you tell us of any strange or unusual events that have happened at Cowdray since it reopened in 2007?

A: Occasionally some dogs have shown reluctance to enter the Tudor kitchen, but others are perfectly happy. Maybe it’s the change in temperature that they don’t like! We have in the past had paranormal investigation companies holding events at Cowdray, but I’m afraid I don’t know the results of those investigations.

Q: Please give us your official website so GREEN DARKNESS fans, who cannot get to England, can take a virtual tour of the majestic ruins of Cowdray Castle.


That is the latest for this blog. As I said earlier, if the locations respond, we will have more Q & A blogs coming in the near future.

Meanwhile, if you would like to read about specific locations or have questions you want to ask about GREEN DARKNESS locations, comment us!

Until next time --
Marla & Angela

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Journey Back In Time

As our adventure continues, we are constantly reminded of its beginnings.  Just as GREEN DARKNESS searches for answers to present questions in the past, I am also looking into my own past to discover how I got here.

Did it start when I first read the book, or when I wanted to find out whether it had been made into a movie? I'm not sure.

I still remember the moment I googled GREEN DARKNESS MOVIE and found "Following the Trail of Anya Seton's Green Darkness" blog by Tamara Mazzei.

That excitement propelled us on this journey. Then it was learning that the rights to the book were available.

But for me, perhaps it started long before I even read the book. It may have started with my Dad and his love and belief in me. Since it's Father's Day, I'd like to send a whopping big THANK YOU, DAD heavenward. I miss you and hope you're still as proud of your little girl!

We all need someone to believe in us to give us the push forward. Personally, I'm a pushover for any story that involves a parent-child relationship.

I think that's partly why GREEN DARKNESS, the novel, is so powerful. The main character in the past, Celia, is looking for a family. She finds "belonging" in a seemingly unsuitable person--Stephen, a priest, but also the father figure she never had.  And he also eventually acknowledges that he has found the same in her.

Is that the answer? Are we all just constantly looking for belonging?

Happy Father's Day to all~~

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Is Green Darkness YOUR Favorite Book?

Recently, we were thrilled to hear that one of our blog followers had found a mention of GREEN DARKNESS in a book she was reading! The book was THE UNFINISHED GARDEN by Barbara Claypole White. A character declares that Green Darkness is her favorite book!
Our curiosity was tickled, so we contacted Barbara White and she confirmed that it is HER favorite novel as well. I guess the character was speaking from the author's heart. :-)
We were so delighted with her response and enthusiasm for a film version of the book that we decided not to let the momentum lapse.
We then contacted Barbara Samuel-O'Neal who wrote the preface to the latest edition of GREEN DARKNESS. She was thrilled to hear of our project as well and said she'd mention it in her blog. 

We have heard from a number of our blog readers, who have told us the same thing. 
GREEN DARKNESS is not just a "well-loved" book it is a FAVORITE!
GREEN DARKNESS was on the Bestsellers list for 6 MONTHS! We can't get firm statistics, but we estimate AT LEAST 250,000 copies sold during that time. 
The book has been in print almost constantly since 1972.
It has been translated into at least 9 languages. 
There's a study guide online. has designated it a "Rediscovered Classic". 
We asked ourselves, if this was the favorite of novelists, then there must be hundreds, perhaps even hundreds of thousands? of others who are still  great fans of this book. 
We need to find them. Are you one?
If GREEN DARKNESS is one of your favorite books, please let us know!
If you would like to see this on the screen, please let us know!
Waiting to hear from you~~
Angela & Marla

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Let the bells ring out, and the small banners fly -- our little blog about adapting the novel GREEN DARKNESS into a feature screenplay hit the 5,161 viewership mark on April 3rd.

We can add Argentina, China, Sweden, Latvia, Poland, Turkey and Afghanistan to the countries from which our fans check out our blog.

Angela and I often feel like we're climbing our own form of Mount Everest. We have obviously left the base of the mountain, but we can't quite see the pinnacle -- in our case that could be two things/events  a. signing an option agreement with a producer or b. watching our screenplay-turned-feature-film on the big screen at the premiere.

So we'd call having our blog pass the 5000 mark our first 'base camp' along the climb. (Finding the number of yearly tourist visits to Ightham Mote, Cowdray Castle, and Naworth Castle was an estimated 500,000 was like having someone toss us down an extra safety rope coated with encouragement!)

This base camp is a safe ledge area where we stop for a breath, look up at what we have to achieve next.

We've come so far, it's true, but we never look back -- always look ahead!

Stick with us. Give us a push as often as you can. We will get the GREEN DARKNESS movie made!

Marla & Angela

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Definition -- epon·y·mous, adjective, \i-pä-nə-məs, e-\ : of, relating to, or being the person or thing for whom or which something is named

Our script is once again an eponymous adaptation of the novel GREEN DARKNESS.


Why IS the novel called GREEN DARKNESS? Anya Seton certainly based the title on the flimsiest of references, a mere mention in a poem, that barely relates to the story.

When Marla and I began our adaptation we discussed our working title at length, as we have mentioned here in our blog. We decided on PREORDAINED as a much more appropriate, if less evocative, title. A couple of readers commented and advised we stick to the original, or at least make sure the eponymous title was on the posters.

We have tried to stay true to the essence of the book and in the end we decided we had  to make the green darkness reference apply -- one way or another.

As screenwriters, we’ve been acutely aware of the need of the title being spoken by one of the characters. So we wrote that in, making it relevant. And then we finally felt justified in calling the script GREEN DARKNESS once more!

Till next time~~
 P.S. Check out our interviews at : Creating Unforgettable Characters

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Happy and healthy 2013 greetings to all our readers and fans of Anya Seton's tremendous novel GREEN DARKNESS.

Our last blog was back on November 30, 2012 when we asked you to participate in spreading the word about our screenplay adaptation of the novel. You responded positively -- big time! The number of views for this blog increased weekly at a truly amazing rate. We are up to 4100 views and climbing. Thank you for that boost to the blog -- it buoys our confidence in the project, too.

This month we'd like to enlist your help again... we have a GREEN DARKNESS Adaptation page on Facebook. It has 837 likes -- a small number compared with the 2664 likes for Anya Seton's FB page and the 1592 likes for the Green Darkness novel's page.

So... are you on Facebook? Have you 'liked' our Green Darkness Adaptation page? If not, please consider doing so. You could also enlist your friends in doing the same thing.

The higher we can raise the GD stats, the better the chance that a film producer will take note of our project.
And as always we are open to suggestions for bringing positive attention to the adaptation screenplay.

May 2013 be THE year we all see the script go into development, and move a step closer to the big screen!

Until next time --
Marla & Angela