A MERSEA Island headteacher turned author is to have his debut novel turned into a film by an Irish lord he once inspired.
Randal Plunkett was a teenager struggling with dyslexia when Peter Inson started teaching him English at the Institut Le Rosey, in Switzerland.
Around 20 years later, the 21st Lord Dunsany has agreed to make Dunno, a short novel about Jon, a troubled teenager who finds the mentor he needs to get on track.
Speaking from the Norman-era Dunsany Castle, in Ireland’s County Meath, Mr Plunkett said he met Mr Inson at a crucial time in his life.
He said: “Peter was a really fun teacher – he took the time, went beyond the call of duty and really helped me with my dyslexia.
“I was one of those kids who spent a lot of time interested in films and stories, so he turned me on to a lot of good books and took me under his wing.
“He always said it was about getting the right book – Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas was one of a very varied group of books.”
Randal, whose ancestors settled in Ireland in the aftermath of the Norman invasion of England in 1066, has creativity in his blood.
His great-grandfather Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany, was an author whose fantasy stories influenced JRR Tolkien, Arthur C Clarke and Neil Gaiman, among others.
After two years at college, Randal went to a college in Oxford before learning the ropes of filmmaking on dozens of productions.
Meanwhile, Peter retired to East Mersea and began a second career as a novelist, publishing Dunno in 2004.
By chance, they bumped into each other online and began chatting.
Randal said: “I found out he’d started writing and I’d started doing films.
“He sent me his book, I read it and thought there was something there.
“Peter has such an understanding of young people, which I don’t think many of the other people in his field have. Sometimes books and films get it and sometimes they don’t.
“That’s one of the reasons the book works so well – everything from the dialogue to the way the character deals with problems is so accurate.
“It’s also straight to the point – that’s why I think it’s going to make a good film, because it fits a 90-minute cinema platform.”
Dunno features Jon, a 15-yearold boy who does not get on well with his mother and who is embarking on a life of petty crime until he meets a mentor who puts him straight.
Despite their differing backgrounds, Randal felt a kinship with the lead character.
“The character arc is also good – the boy finds a sort of purpose in life and I thought that was very nice.
“The difference between myself and Jon in the book is that Jon didn’t have a teacher like Peter.
“When I left Rosey, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
There was a massive estate that was going to be mine one day, but I had no career.
“I didn’t think I was going to become a lawyer or a banker, and I wasn’t inventing an extra long-lasting light bulb or anything like that. Young people do need a mentor, and he was my mentor.”
The pair quickly agreed to put together a film version and are working on a script which will deviate little from the book.
Randal, who will shortly enter pre-production for his first feature- length film after directing a series of acclaimed shorts, has applied for start-up funding from the Irish Film Board.
With no special effects required, Randal predicted the main costs would be finding the right actors for the roles. If all goes to plan, production could start in autumn 2015.
He added: “Dunsany Productions is definitely taking it on, one way or the other.
“I wouldn’t have done it if it was just my relationship with Peter – the book really did grasp me.
“It’s very exciting and I think it’s going to make a great movie.
It all clicked at the right time.”