Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day: What is love?

There was love in a hay field in The Taker, too.
Valentine's Day, that most peculiar of holidays. The day we celebrate the idea of being in love. 

I have said that The Taker is an anti-romance. One of the reasons I wrote it is because I was horrified by the way our culture overemphasizes the importance to being in a relationship. Young people are pressured to be paired off with someone before they even know what it means to love. I had young nieces planning their dream weddings, down to the designer dress and the perfect place to have the reception, without spending one-thousandth the amount of thought put towards the kind of person they would marry. I saw women turning themselves inside out to hang on to indifferent men. The price of giving your heart can often be high--few loves will never go untested. Love is a precious thing but we try to mass-produce it, stamp it out in red and hot pink plastic instead of gold, make it ubiquitous. 

Well, saying that sort of thing is like pinning a target to your back. Some people get it, but most accuse you of being a sour, joyless old thing. So once a year, I like to remind people that it's a writer's job to tell the truths of the world and that I am hardly alone in my view of love:


If two people love each other, there can be no happy end to it.
--Ernest Hemingway

Often it is just the most deserving people who cannot help loving those that destroy them.
--Herman Hesse, Gertrude

Love is like a fever which comes and goes quite independently of the will.
--Stendhal

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. 
--CS Lewis

What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.
--Fodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamozov

This month in 2012: my Italian book tour. A writer's career is a fickle thing, but they can never take this away from me. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Is it a film yet?

Red Riding Hood: a stinker
The question I get asked the most is whether The Taker books are going to be turned into a movie or television series. It's pretty natural, when you like a book a lot, to think of it in terms of something visual. After all, you've played it in your head as you've read it, you can just picture what it will look like, and so having it made into a movie seems like the next logical step.

While it seems that it's the norm for books to be turned quickly into a movie or such, it's worth remembering that this isn't always the case. It took Diana Gabaldon's Outlander (a book The Taker has been compared to many times, I'll add) 26 years to be made into the series on Starz. I haven't watched it but have plenty of friends who adore it, and so it seems it was well worth the wait to have a producer come along who was going to do it justice. An even better example is Game of Thrones, George RR Martin's epic fantasy. GRRM himself said he never thought the books would be make it to the screen. He'd been a screenwriter and knew the constraints of the media, but he wanted to write something very big and sprawling and rich, knowing that it would be too expensive to capture in a movie or series. Luckily for us, someone at HBO wanted to give it a try and perhaps changed the playbook on what makes successful television.

We had early studio interest in The Taker but no sale. My agent at the time passed along that he'd been told, which was that the story, jumping around in history as it does, is hard to make work in a film. Also, historicals are expensive and so Hollywood doesn't like to make them. And lastly, for some unknown reason, as it was being discussed in Hollywood it got associated in some way with the 2011 film Red Riding Hood. Why, who knows: perhaps because it was dark and fairy tale-ish. I understand this happens: as producers discuss a book, they come up with some movie that they think is similar in some way. Only Red Riding Hood bombed. So suddenly no one was interested in The Taker anymore.

I only bring this up because, as I said, there is always interest in whether there's going to be a movie. I have to admit, this question always irks me a little because I would (of course!) love to be able to tell readers "yes". And if there ever is a deal, believe me, you'll hear about it. But I'm afraid some people make judgments about a book if there isn't a movie deal, and that couldn't be more unfair. Because--as we've seen with Game of Thrones and Outlander--it might be that the most difficult books to make into film are the ones that are most worth it, but you have to be patience and wait for the right visionary to come along, the one who can see exactly how it must be done. Then it will be well worth the wait.