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UA Professor's book being made into major motion picture

Posted at 6:20 PM, Jul 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-13 21:28:04-04
Joe Sharkey wrote his true-crime book 'Above Suspicion' nearly 25 years ago. And in a year's time, he'll see it come alive on the big screen. 
"It's a tragic and sad story," said Sharkey. "Now why would anyone want to make a movie out of that, let alone a book? I mean my question was why? But it's so sad and it's so human and it's complex and it's so psychologically intricate that it interested me." 
Sharkey is an adjunct instructor in the University of Arizona School of Journalism. He wrote the book in one year after heavily researching and interviewing people from the incident. 
The book follows the true story of FBI Agent Mark Putnam played by Jack Huston, who moved to a small Kentucky town after finishing at the academy.
He begins an affair with an informant named Susan Smith played by Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones.
Their relationship turns deadly when Putnam strangles Smith in an argument and dumps her body down a mountain.
Putnam is sentenced to 16 years in prison and became the first FBI agent convicted of murder. 
"When they finally said 'we're making the movie' I was very skeptical," said Sharkey.
Sharkey spent the last few months in Kentucky consulting on the set of the movie. He said the film's director Phillip Noyce set up a director's chair for him and had him watch every scene. He also helped edit the screenplay to bring the story back to the human characters rather than an action-packed drama.
He says the movie did what he couldn't in the book; bring the tragic character of Susan Smith to life. 
"It's been 25 years, I think about this girl that I never knew a lot because something about her just gripped me," he said. "Just interested me how sad and tragic she really was. You would have liked her if you know what I mean." 
He said he became close friends with the cast and crew and that he was impressed with how well the actors brought the movie to life. He said Emilia Clarke completely owned the role of Susan Smith. 
"That was an adventure and I thought 'wow that was unexpected,'" said Sharkey. "I was delighted that I had gone." 
He says the movie is set to hit theaters some time in 2017.