I can distinctly remember as a senior in high school being asked what I planned to do with my life. I had lots of plans, big plans. And number one on the list: write the great American novel and then the screenplay for the movie. I figured I’d be scooping up my Oscar by 30 at the latest.
Oh, the audacity of youth.
Now that I’m older (and one would assume wiser!) I’m not so sure that’s still a goal. Yes, I’d still like to write the great American novel, but I don’t know that I want Hollywood to come calling.
Arrogant words for someone who has yet to publish a book? Maybe. But how many book have you seen turned into movies that you actually thought were as good as the book? I’ve seen two: Presumed Innocent and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (NOT the BBC version, the Walden version that came out in 2005). They were practically perfect in my (not so humble) opinion. I couldn’t have done a better job if I’d written the script and directed the movies myself. There are probably five or six more that I could watch more than once without complaining (although don’t blame me if I alert everyone around me to how much better the book was, what the movie makers left out, and the parts they should have left in).
Don’t get me wrong. I’d be incredibly flattered if someone wanted to make a movie out of my book. But most authors don’t get to write the screenplays. (Suzanne Collins already had a background in film or television so she’s been given the opportunity to adapt The Hunger Games. I’m excited to see how it turns out!)
The rest of us aren’t usually so lucky. So how do you let go of the baby you’ve spent so much time working on and stand to the side as someone else tears it apart piece by piece? How do you hold on to your artistic integrity if they completely misinterpret your writing? How do you keep your mouth shut when people ask your opinion of the big screen version and you hate it?
My husband says if anyone wants to make a movie out of my books, take the money and run. I can laugh all the way to the bank. Easy for him to say. If the book has been a huge bestseller, and the need to pay off bills is no longer part of the equation, would I sell it off without a backward glance? I don’t think so.
Maybe it’s just further proof that I am a control freak.
What would you do? What books do you think made a good transition from page to screen?