UK novelist Robert Harris, in Turin to promote his novel The Ghost, provided new details on the film adaptation of the book which Roman Polanski will direct. The pair are working together on the script now.

Harris also discussed Pompeii, the $100m epic that was cancelled last September when Polanski pulled out, reportedly over looming industry strikes and location complications.

The Ghost is the duo's second attempt at a film together after Pompeii, touted as Europe's biggest production ever, was called to a halt and some international buyers pulled out of deals made with Summit Entertainment.

But a leap from 79 AD into the world of modern day political intrigue might just be a smoother project to get off the ground, particularly since the mostly British cast means producers Alain Sarde and Robert Benmussa could rely on European talent and locations not affected by US strike(s).

'It's a story that can be told a lot more cheaply than Pompeii, it can be done in Europe, it can be done largely using British actors it was the political thriller Roman wanted to make a year ago,' Harris told 'Certainly it's not like Pompeii which required a massive amount of labour to do sets and special effects.'

Harris said the budget for The Ghost could likely be in the $40-$50 million range, and that the first draft of the screenplay would be complete by Christmas, with casting to get underway in January. Harris says the projected shooting timeline is late summer 2008 through the end of the year.

The Ghost is about Adam Lang, a fictional, former British Prime Minister with similarities, the author admits, to Tony Blair.

Harris said The Ghost was on his mind for over a decade but that he could never quite see the story. 'A couple of years ago I heard a radio report about Tony Blair
possibly being prosecuted for war crimes and having to possibly go live in America otherwise he would be hauled in front of the Hague, so I saw a possible setting in the United States and I saw a character and what the story might be,' he told

Similarities seem to stop there, however. 'We will certainly get an actor not at all like Tony Blair. It is not designed to be that kind of satire.'

Harris said he wrote The Ghost while adapting Pompeii alongside Polanski.

The story is set in Martha's Vineyard where the 'ex leader' is completing his memoirs. When his ghostwriter drowns, another steps in. 'It becomes a classic kind of thriller where (the writer) starts to realize his predecessor may not have died in a drunken accident,' said Harris.

As for locations, Harris says Northern France or Germany are currently in discussion. 'Beeches dunes, cliffs, woods and highways are the main settings. A lot of it takes place in an ultramodern ocean front house. And we need a ferry,' he added.

But Harris is also hopeful that Pompeii will be re-assembled on the
heels of The Ghost. 'That's the dream, but who knows where industry will be this time next year''

'Roman was planning to film in March 2008 and go through to August or Sept, using the European summer. You simply can't embark on a film that size if you can't be sure of finishing it - it'd be insane.'

'But I am convinced that Pompeii will be made,' Harris added.