Not so long ago, Christian White was editing pornographic movies and driving food carts to pay the rent. Then – in a twist worthy of his own works – he became a bestselling author.
Now a script he wrote is being turned into a $36 million cyber crime eight part series for Netflix. Does White have the Illuminati pulling strings on his behalf?
“I do,” the 38-year-old tells The New Daily.
“I sold my soul to everyone who would accept it and now I’m reaping the benefits. Hopefully, the days of looking at porn professionally are long behind me.”
The unpublished manuscript for his mystery novel The Nowhere Child sparked an international bidding war between publishers and went on to become the fastest selling Australian debut of all time last year.
Now White’s second novel, thriller The Wife and the Widow, has just been released and he’s about to blow up on screen too.
“All these irons I had in the fire, they all just happened to strike at once,” he says. “It’s been crazy.”
Relic, the horror movie he co-wrote with the film’s director Natalie Erika James, hits cinemas next year. It stars Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote and Robyn Nevin as three generations of women in one family haunted by a terrifying manifestation of dementia.
Then there’s his Netflix deal. Clickbait, a Black Mirror-esque thriller mining the dark side of social media, was written for Australian super-producer Tony Ayres then picked up by the streaming giant.
Clickbait will shoot in Melbourne later this year.
“I really feel like a big part of my success is due to a lot of people taking a chance on me,” says White, who met Ayres five years ago when he won a screenwriting competition through the Australian Writers’ Guild.
He elected to visit production company Matchbox Pictures with a pilot script he’d penned. That “never went anywhere” but the men started talking ideas.
“Ever since then we’ve been developing what would become Clickbait, so it’s been a passion project years in the making,” White says.
The writer grew up on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and recently moved with filmmaker wife Summer DeRoche and adopted greyhound Issy to coastal Ocean Grove after years living in inner-city Coburg.
The couple’s new beach lifestyle fed into the plot of The Wife and the Widow, which involves a missing person and possible murder in a seaside town in the dead of winter.
As with The Nowhere Child, it’s told in alternating chapters that drip feed clues to the central mystery via two different perspectives and lead towards a whammy of an ending.
DeRoche is a huge help with White’s creativity, he says.
“If she ever divorces me, I don’t know what I’m going to do, because she comes up with all these solutions for my stories. She’s a storyteller herself and she’s got these incredible instincts that I totally rip off.”
The massive success of The Nowhere Child stunned White (“Even now I think, ‘Oh, are you sure you didn’t get a decimal point wrong?’”) but has given the couple financial security to pursue their projects full-time.
Still, the praise for his first book put pressure on White while writing The Wife and the Widow.
White responds to all readers who write to him, even the mean missives. But haters beware: a writer has unique payback tools.
“The central love story of The Nowhere Child is a gay one, so I got this email that was super homophobic,” White says.
“I sent [the writer] back a pretty frank, but well-constructed email saying, ‘I’m not going to change, so stop reading my stuff then,’ but I wasn’t quite satisfied with that.
“So I created a lesbian character in my second book and named it after her. There’s a little bit of revenge in there.”
The Wife and the Widow by Christian White, Affirm Press, $32.99.