IF YOU’VE been to Paris, you’ve probably noticed the proliferation of portrait artists who will offer to sketch you for a fee.
A thrilling murder story dreamed up by a Leeds man while at his call centre desk has caught the eye of a Hollywood producer.
Adel-born writer Chris O’Neill put pen to paper after coming up with a plot involving a murderous caricature artist stalking and sketching his unsuspecting victims - turning the tale into his first crime thriller The Sketcher’s Mark.
The story has already made Amazon’s top 25 free thriller’s bestseller list, recording more than 2,000 downloads in one weekend alone.
And the plot has so intrigued Hollywood producer David Foster - whose work has including The Thing and ‘80s cop movie Running Scared - he has acquired the film rights for the story.
Former Leeds Grammar student Chris says his love of story-telling has its roots in his mother’s decision to ban him from reading comics as a child.
“I started writing my own stories instead,” said Chris. “I enjoyed making up my own characters as it felt like you had more freedom to take them in different directions and you’re creating your own world with your own rules.”
But success was by no means immediate. Chris, now 37, remembers working at HBOS, Northern Rock and British Gas in Leeds and even on the refreshment stand at the Showcase cinema before deciding to study film himself at San Francisco State University in 1998.
He’s has been splitting his time between California and the UK ever since - but confirms The Sketcher’s Mark was conceived when he was working in a Leeds call centre.
He added: “There’s no better audience in the world than those from Yorkshire. because they absolutely want to be entertained and appreciate a good laugh or a good thrill - so you had better deliver!”
Chris, who now has a home in Garforth, credits his Yorkshire upbringing for securing him an audience with David Foster after he wrote to him to let him know how his earlier work had been an inspiration.
The letter he received back began: “Chris O’Neill, you are one charming sonofab