Local woman’s book turned into award winning screenplay
KALISPELL — The book “Once in a Lifetime Comes a Man” by local author Grace Larson has won a screenplay award from the LA Independent Women Film Festival and was chosen for the Chicago Indie Film Festival.
“I’m so proud of this,” Larson said. “I never expected anything like this.”
Niece of Fay Haynes of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame, Larson was born and raised on a sheep ranch in Hot Springs and attended school a few miles away in Polson. Married at 16, Larson and her first husband moved to Minnesota where she was introduced to a friend of his, Lyle Larson.
“I looked across the table and saw Lyle and thought ‘what in the world am I doing married [to someone else]?’” Larson said.
Years later, after her divorce, Larson went to college at Spokane Falls in 1980 to study chemical dependency. While pursuing her studies, 18 years after she last saw him, Larson had a dream of Lyle that inspired her to reach out to him. From there the two began to write to each other and talk on the phone, and one year later in 1982 they were married. As soon as she graduated, achieving honors in the process, the couple moved back to Larson’s home state.
“When I got back to Montana, I’m not kidding, I squatted down and kissed the ground. I was just so happy to be back,” Larson laughed. “My heart was always here.”
The two settled down in Forsyth, where she became a chemical dependency counselor for about 15 years.
Grace and Lyle had 32 years together before he passed away.
“[Getting together] was a miracle really,” Larson said. “I always say Lyle was my ‘saving Grace.’ He was a wonderful, wonderful man.”
A year after her husband’s death in 2013, Larson published her first book which covered her grandparents’ history, “An Immigrant, A Homesteader and Sheep.” Shortly thereafter, she discovered that her husband had kept every letter they had ever written to each other. That was what inspired her book about their story, “Once in a Lifetime Comes a Man.”
She had started writing thanks to a Creative Writing course in college. At the encouragement of her instructor, Larson wrote her first manuscript “The Making of a Con” based on a convict that worked under her when she worked as a journeyman painter. The manuscript sat unpublished in a drawer for years until she had published two other books, making it her third.
Interested in turning her books into movies, Larson found screenwriter Anne Gold based in California, and hired her to turn two of her books into screenplays: “Once in a Lifetime Comes a Man,” and a story about her own life titled “Grace,” which will also be submitted for film festival awards.
Working together for the last several months, the two writers have established a great relationship.
“She’s very easy to work with. Very supportive and encouraging,” Gold said of Larson. “In the beginning I was kind of worried because the stories are very personal to her, but she’s really open minded and just wants to do everything that can result in a great screenplay. I was very honored to write Grace’s stories, because her stories are amazing.”
“I have been so pleased with her,” Larson said of Gold. Once she has enough money raised, she intends to ask Gold to write another screenplay for her, this time on her book “Fay: In Her Own Words - A Living Legacy.”
The two women intend to work together to get the scripts to the right people to find a producer that will turn the screenplays into independent movies.
“We have both happiness and sadness and that’s all there is to it. I love the happy times,” said Larson.
Her most recent book, “From Dawn to Dusk: In the Wild World,” a compilation of fiction and nonfiction short stories named by her granddaughter, has not yet been published, but her existing books are all available for purchase locally in the Ronan bookstore ‘Print,’ as well as online.