Friday, May 20, 2011

Books and Movies

If I'm really good and productive today and don't get a lot of interruptions, either self-inflicted or other-inflicted, I should finish the major surgery part of the revision process today. Then next week I can go back and finesse. I really like this book. That may sound like a no-brainer, but I usually hit a point of hating a book or doubting it, but this one I don't think I've ever hated, and I enjoy all the time I spend working on it. This is one of those books where it may be tempting to tinker with it eternally, just because I don't want to leave the world.

I hadn't planned to bother with the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, since the last one was such a disappointment. I saw it on 50 cent day at the dollar theater and still felt cheated. I mean, what was up with that ending? How depressing! But then I saw that the plot for this one is based on a Tim Powers novel, and Tim is one of my favorite convention co-panelists and a true gentleman. I'm sure there's little recognizable from his book, considering they inserted his story into the Pirates universe and used the Pirates characters, but still, I don't think I've seen a movie where a friend's name will be credited as an author, and it might be fun to go to the theater just to cheer when his name comes up in the credits.

I get asked a lot about how I feel about the fact that if they do make movies out of my books, they'll likely change a lot. I've resigned myself to the fact that I'll be lucky if I even recognize my own characters. I seem to vary wildly as to how well I accept changes in favorite books when I see the movie version. It all depends on how the changes work, if the result is good and if they change the parts that are key to my enjoyment of the book. For instance, I like the Harry Potter movies. They aren't a perfect translation of the books, but I kind of put them in different universes and enjoy them equally. I've enjoyed the Narnia movies because they seem to fit the story I saw in my head when I read the books, even though they aren't a perfect match. On the other hand, I've never seen a version of Ivanhoe that I like as well as the book, possibly because I may be one of the few people who read that book and still wanted Ivanhoe and Rowena to end up together. Most movie/TV versions are very Rebecca-focused and make it out to be some kind of tragic lost love thing, while I have a fondness for childhood sweethearts. I couldn't even watch all of The Guns of Navarone. I hear that it's a good movie, but I LOVED the book, and the things that were changed the most in the translation from book to movie were the things I liked about the book. For instance, the demolitions expert played by David Niven was a laconic Texan in the book, and then they mangled to the point of non-existence the most touching and emotional character arc in the book. In those cases, I can't get past the changes, not so much because of the difference between book and movie but because the changes altered the things I liked about the book. If I'd read a book that went like the movie, I wouldn't have liked the book.

Maybe someday I'll have the clout to have some kind of creative input on movies made from my books, but granting the option now was a practical career decision. For one thing, it's given me money to live on while my publishing career is in a bit of a lull, and for another, if a movie does get made, it should give my publishing career a boost. A movie gets a lot more promotion than a book, so there will be ads on TV and in newspapers, there will be posters, there will be movie reviews, etc., and that could promote my book to audiences that haven't discovered it yet. Those sales could then lead to me getting more clout. So, yeah, I sold out, and I hope it pays off in a way that then maybe gets me a little more artistic freedom. If not, well, it's allowed me to live a couple more years without having to find a real job.

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