Sunday, October 5, 2014

When books become movies, do we love them any less?

I remember seeing an article recently about books making it to the big screen.  It’s quite the process, sometimes a long time in coming for some authors and very quick for others.  And, I’m sure, it might seem like a dream come true for anyone who eventually sees their story on the big screen.

But what must it be like, to pour your sweat, blood and tears into a project only to have someone else look at your creation with a critical eye and then change whatever they want before it’s put out there for a whole new audience?  It would be like someone taking your child for a few months, only to return them with a new look, new mannerisms and even an accent.

I also recently read an old interview of one of my favorite mystery writers, Mary Higgins Clark, where she was asked how she felt about film adaptations of her work.  What she said makes sense, that it’s like giving up your child for adoption and while you wish it well, you lose control because it’s a different medium and there isn’t any way someone else can take your book and reproduce it exactly as it was written. 

The Lord of the Rings
The Return of the King
Producing a movie adaptation of a book gives the author’s work a whole new life, and hopefully it’s a good version rather than a bad one.  Because it’s a different medium, it is likely to draw a whole new audience and that’s not a bad thing, especially when a new audience might become interested in other work created by the author.  A movie adaptation will also thrill fans of that author when they get to watch one of their favorite stories come to life.  I especially love the movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, as these movies bring a fantasy world to the tips of our fingers and the recesses of our imagination in a way that I believe is better than what J. R. R. Tolkien would have
ever imagined.

But what about the readers who completely dread the idea of movie adaptations because there’s rarely a movie that completely follows the story they fell in love with on paper in the first place? 
I can understand where they might be coming from.

My youngest son and I both read The Maze Runner series and, as with The Hunger Games series and Harry Potter, as well as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, the idea of seeing these worlds come to life on the big screen is something we always look forward to, even if the movies don’t quite follow along with the whole story created by the authors. 

I only recently finished The Maze Runner series and my son and I just recently watched the first movie based on that series in theaters.  While I do enjoy watching another series come to life on the big screen, I have to admit it is difficult to follow along with a movie based on a book series after having just read that series, especially when some of the changes the director made aren’t minor.  I think, moving forward as a reader and a movie-goer, I’d prefer to let some more time pass between reading a book or a series and watching the movies based on those books.  It just makes for a better experience, in my opinion, because I don’t want to leave the theater wishing that the director had just stuck to the original script.

So what if one of my books became a movie?  I’ll admit it’s something I’d love to see happen but it’s a dream that’s somewhat like winning the lottery…and it also takes putting out the right breakout novel to get you noticed.  As an author, you just never know when that might happen or what story will finally draw that sort of attention.

But authors are inspired by dreams because it is the idea that motivates us in the first place - - the idea of a story, the idea of new characters, the idea of a setting or a whole new world, the idea of others enjoying our stories, the idea that this (writing) is what we’re supposed to be doing because we’ve seen evidence from so many others about how much they appreciate what we’ve created for them.

So even if the movie-version of our books never happens, all the other ideas that motivate authors are certainly enough to keep us going!

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