Headwaters of The River WildAs any moving body of water has a headwater – a starting point – so, too, does this novel.
It started out as a humorous magazine article for Fly Rod & Reel (“Diary of a Mad Floater”) following a six-day float trip down Montana’s wilderness Smith River. From there, it flowed into an original screenplay which attracted Meryl Streep, director Curtis Hanson and the interest of Universal Studio, which released the motion picture incarnation in September of 1994. That flowed uninterrupted for nearly twenty years, until I decided the story should have a final life on the printed page. By then, there was more I wanted to say about the power and beauty of wild rivers and Mother Nature. The thriller ingredients, propelled by a vigorous downstream journey, provided the foundation I needed to add a new layer of suspense – a pursuing Montana state trooper not present in the film. It also gave me the storytelling energy I wanted to complement some more resonant thoughts about the importance of preserving our natural resources. The result is this novel – which has been shaped by its tributaries – yet like all rivers, has an identity of its own.
Adapted from the Movie
It was frantic, fantastic! Perhaps I am a man of exceptional moods.
EndorsementWe are honored to have received the following kind words…
“Denis O’Neill knows the high risk thrills and danger that come with Class V river rafting.” ~ Meryl Streep
Screenwriter O’Neill successfully adapts his 1994 movie The River Wild to the page.
In an effort to save her floundering marriage, lawyer Gail MacDonald, a resident of Brookline, Mass., takes her architect husband, Tom, and their 13-year-old son, Roarke, to ride the rapids in Montana’s Lewis and Clark National Forest, where she once guided raft trips. At their campsite, they encounter two men, murderer William Deakens “Deke” Patterson and rapist Terrance “Terry” Everton O’Reilly, who have just escaped from prison. The convicts, determined to elude law enforcement, compel the MacDonalds to travel down the river with Gail as their guide. Gail knows that, even if she can get them all safely past the violent rapids known as the Gauntlet, her family will be killed when they’re no longer useful to Deke and Terry. Meanwhile, Det. Lt. Bobby Long of the Montana State Police and his assistant, William “Billy” Heston, are trying to locate the escapees, but they have no leads. O’Neill pits man against man and man against nature in this gripping thriller.