Thursday, May 30, 2019

Hey, It's a Movie! (Brian Katcher)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is my second favorite book. It was a film that solidified Jack Nicholson as a major star (and was Danny DeVito's first major film role). Great stuff.

Ken Kessey, author of the original novel, hated it. He rightly complains that the filmmakers concentrated on MacMurphy's character, rather than the Chief, the book's true protagonist.

I'm sometimes asked that if one of my books were made into a movie, would I insist on creative control, script approval, etc? Would I only allow it to happen if they stayed true to my artistic vision?

Nope. I'd sell out in a heartbeat. They could do any damn thing they wanted to my book, provided my name was on it. I have no pride. Though I'd dearly love an author cameo as an annoying teacher or whatever.

Also, The Indian in the Cupboard was the only children's book where the movie was better than the original novel. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Movies and Stories and Books--Oh My! by Dean Gloster

            Back when I was a lawyer, one of my law partners asked if I thought my debut novel, Dessert First, would ever be made into a movie. (*Spoiler alert: It was not.*)

            No, I told him. My stories tend to have a lot of voice, a sprawl of subplots, and difficult subject matter (death) leavened with humor. It’s a hard mix to carry off as a novel—although that’s what it’s designed as. It would be even harder to make into a movie.

            Movies and books are very different, if you’re trying to write one. Movies—of the Hollywood blockbuster variety, anyway—have structural exactitude and not much leeway, which novels are looser about. Novels tend to have subplots, but the movies they’re made into pare that away and compress.

Novels do bear an imprint of the input from beta readers, editors, cover designers, and others, but they are almost completely assembled from the author’s words, who has lots of control. They’re a collaboration largely of the writer and the readers—who makes up their own mental picture of the characters and setting from those words.

            While the manuscript of the novel is most of the product, the first draft of a green-lit screenplay is just a small ingredient in the final soup: Movies require hundreds of experts, with gigantic sets, casting, lighting, acting, sound, camera work, etc. The director and the stars are more important to its commercial success than the original words in the script.

            And they have much larger budgets and scope—if several tens of thousands of people buy a book, it’s a commercial success. If only a few hundreds of thousands of people see a movie, it’s a horrific failure.

            Novels allow you more room to experiment. And sometimes those experiments succeed so wildly they are made into movies, and those movies help more readers discover the book—the seed that huge tree of a movie was made from.

            Which is probably why my law partner was asking about whether my book would become a movie—you know, the kind of thing that generates even more money than the practice of law. Not yet. And the economics of writing books are…modest, for most of us.

            So why do it?

Because it’s magic, creating a world with readers using barely more than an arrangement of words.

            I get to make magic. How cool is that?

            Although movie money and the readership it would bring would be nice too.

 “There’s no money in poetry, but there’s no poetry in money, either”—Robert Graves

Dean Gloster has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is a former stand-up comedian and a former law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court. His debut YA novel DESSERT FIRST is out now from Merit Press/Simon Pulse. School Library Journal called it “a sweet, sorrowful, and simply divine debut novel that teens will be sinking their teeth into. This wonderful story…will be a hit with fans of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and Jesse Andrews's Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” His current novel is about two funny brothers who have to team up with their friend Claire to save the world. It has all the usual Dean Gloster novel ingredients: Death, humor, the question of whether it’s possible to save someone, a love interest to root for, dysfunctional parenting, and a slightly off-kilter sensibility. Also a mergers and acquisitions lawyer dad who is missing 74 percent of his soul.
Dean is on Twitter: @deangloster

Monday, May 27, 2019

Living longer with movies (Jennifer R. Hubbard)

A few years ago, Matt Kahn decided to read and blog about every novel that had reached number one on the Publishers Weekly annual bestsellers list for a century, from 1913 to 2014. It took him two years, and I followed, fascinated by which blockbusters had been very much of their time and which ones had endured.

One thing I started noticing about endurance: it was partly a function of quality—some poorly-written books have deservedly fallen completely off the radar of today’s readers—but quality alone could not save a book (and lack of quality alone could not sink it). Largely, the books we remember for more than a generation are those that were made into movies.

I tested this idea with many other books, including classics, and found that while it’s not an absolute rule (The Catcher in the Rye springs instantly to mind as a notable exception), it holds up pretty well. I noticed that while The Hunger Games made a big splash in YA publishing, I didn’t see it in the hands of people on my commuter train until the movie came out. Likewise with Twilight and Harry Potter. Kahn notes that John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars came out in 2012, but didn’t top the annual bestseller list until 2014, the year the movie appeared. I would wager that far more people have seen movies like The Godfather, Jaws, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Wizard of Oz than have read the books they were based on.

Media are changing quickly, and I don’t know how long movies will continue to play this role in popular culture. Game of Thrones has received its screen synergy from a TV series rather than a movie, but that may be nothing new ... so did The Paper Chase back in the 1970s. (Though it was a movie, too.) Marie Kondo is reaching a whole new audience on Netflix. In October 2015, Publishers Weekly reported that three books by authors they called “YouTube dynamos” were in the top 20 on their overall bestseller list. Will YouTube fame make success more lasting ... is it the authors or the stories we remember longer? I’m sure someone must have made their own book into a YouTube movie or series by now. It remains to be seen whether the internet will ultimately enlarge or fragment audiences.

To me, there’s something special about the story within the covers of a book, the story that unfolds in our minds as we read (or listen to) text. But I’m aware that when stories cross into other media, they grow longer legs. When I was little, I hated most movies based on books, resenting every little change the translation to screen had brought. Nowadays I appreciate almost anything that extends a story’s lifespan.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

This is a Jane Austen Fan Post

You've been warned.

I spent two weeks in southern England with my parents, husband, and preschooler in April, and we spent a couple of days visiting Bath, which was a popular city with fashionable Georgians. And since books about fashionable Georgians are popular with me, it was exciting to see so many scenes from so many books I've loved in real life.

(Pro-Tip: Depending on how you play it, England can be much cheaper than Disney World.)

The most famous name associated with Bath is probably Jane Austen. She lived there for several years in the first decade of the 1800s, and two of her novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey (my favorite), use Bath as one of their settings.

We visited the Jane Austen Centre on Gay Street, danced in the Assembly Rooms, had tea twice in the Pump Room, sampled the waters at the Roman Baths, and chatted with a lay reader at Bath Abbey. So many scenes are set in these places!

At the Jane Austen Centre, my daughter earned a book for good behavior on the tour. It's a Jane Austen find-it with graphic novel style retellings of all six novels. It's awesome. And yes, I totally intended it to be a Jane Austen gateway book.

On another day, we visited the town of Lacock, which is mostly operated by the National Trust as a film site for every English period drama you've ever seen.

It served as Meryton in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice (otherwise known as the best P&P), and it didn't take my daughter long to figure out that there are movies of all Jane Austen's novels and that these movies often contain balls and fancy dresses. (Because no matter how poor the Bennets think they are, they're really not.) My saying, "Hey, do you want to watch the movie of this when we get home?" may also have helped her to this conclusion.

I wasn't sure she really would want to watch a Jane Austen movie, but we've made it through Pride and Prejudice and half the version of Emma that stars Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller (otherwise known as the best Emma). We plan to start Sense and Sensibility next (the 1995 one with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant, obviously).

She thinks they're hilarious because there are "so many silly people in these shows," and while she doesn't necessarily get every detail, she gets Jane Austen's worldview, which is—in the Southern parlance of my childhood—"People's crazy," which is an important life lesson. She is firmly #TeamBingley. She identifies with Emma Woodhouse as the Austen heroine she most resembles, which is astonishingly self-perceptive of her. (I like to think of myself as Elizabeth Bennet, but I'm much afraid I'm really some combination of Catherine Morland and Anne Elliot or Fanny Price. Horrifying thought.)

In short, all my dreams have come true.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Books, movies...and more (Brenda Hiatt)

Like all authors, I love it when a reader is so engaged with one of my stories that she/he feels compelled to write to me and gush about it. Teen readers, in particular, sometimes write the most amazingly ego-gratifying emails! One question I’m not-infrequently asked by these avid fans is, “Why don’t you make this book/series into a movie?” You know, like that idea never even occurred to me until that reader suggested it. And like I’m intentionally depriving my fans of experiencing my characters and their stories on the big screen because I just haven’t gotten around to it. Or something. 

Sure, I’d LOVE to see my books made into movies—or even better (in my opinion) a TV series. If I could wave a wand or simply fire off a letter or email to make that happen, you can bet I’d do it in a heartbeat. Alas, that’s not how Hollywood works. There are lots and lots and LOTS of books out there. That makes snagging the attention of someone who has the power to get the Hollywood wheels turning so difficult that my odds of seeing my Starstruck books on the big or small screen are vanishingly small. This is true even though I happen to have a daughter with Hollywood “connections,” who’s worked in the entertainment industry in LA for years. (Yes, she’s tried to pitch my books. And no, we’ve had no serious nibbles. Yet. Hope springs eternal.)

Meanwhile, my other daughter, who is a singer and actress in Germany, was recently fired with the idea to turn Starstruck, the first book in my series, into a MUSICAL. She and a musician/songwriter friend have been working on that, with my blessing, and it’s been a fascinating experience! She’s done a fabulous job of condensing my 110,000 word novel into a 2-hour play (complete with lyrics!) without losing any of the “heart” of the book. In fact, reading the “book” for stage, I have to wonder if I was way too wordy with the novel! Her friend has already put a few of the songs to music and I’ve heard a couple of rough cuts (him playing piano and her singing). Very, very cool! 

Her hope is that “Starstruck, the Musical” will appeal to high school drama departments and community theaters, and she’s written it with that in mind. (No, no real Broadway aspirations here, though hey, never say never!) She’s been careful to allow for scene changes and costume changes, and has even come up with ways the “special effects” might work on stage with a small budget. I’m hoping/planning to go to Germany later this year when they start workshopping it, which should be a lot of fun. Even if it never earns us actual money, I really, really hope it gets produced at least once, because I’m dying to see it! 

Of course, I’d still love for my daughter in Hollywood to get some studio attention for my book/series, since these definitely aren’t mutually exclusive projects. But while waiting for that lightning to strike, I plan to enjoy watching the fun new musical take shape. I also plan to keep writing the books. Because the MOST frequent question I get from my readers is, “When is your next Starstruck book going to be out?” 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Fantasy Movie Casting by Patty Blount

Since this month's blog theme is movie adaptions of YA books, I thought I'd revisit a fan favorite -- picking fantasy casts.

Since my first novel was published back in 2012, I'm often asked who would play the parts of my characters were a book ever to be made into a movie.

Here's a secret --> I often do exactly this while I'm writing a story. I'm a highly visual thinker. I need to see big pictures play out and then I write those scenes as I imagine them. I frequently spend time viewing videos of things like fight scenes, for example, so I can show the action in ways that enable readers to feel a character's pain rather than just describe it.

So, SEND, which features the dual role of Dan/Kenny, was about a former bully trying hard to cope with the suicide he caused back when he was just thirteen. For most of us, there's a big difference between our 18 and 13-year-old selves...especially after puberty kicks in.

Little known fact --> I'm a big Supernatural fan. One of my favorite shows. Before on-demand and DVR, that was the one show I allowed myself to stop writing to watch. The show loves to play with timelines and is filled with flashbacks of the main characters as children.

"Dan" in SEND is not his real name. His real name is Kenny. At age 18, Dan and his family have relocated. Again. This time, under new names. They pray that no one will find out who they really are. As Dan starts senior year in a new school, his Kenny self dogs his heals, reminding him at every turn what a screw-up he is and generally making his life miserable.

"Kenny" is a hallucination Dan has of himself, frozen forever at age 13, before he ruined so many lives. (Dan has a dissociative disorder.)

Dan at 18 was based on Sam, as played by Jared Padelecki (far left)
Kenny at 13 was based on Young Sam, as played by Colin Ford (second from left)

Image result for supernatural, young sam and current sam

I use images like these as part of my vision boards for every book project. It helps me capture the physicality of characters in three-dimensional space.

If SEND were ever made into a movie, I'd have loved for Jared to play the role, but he's too old to play high school now.

Similarly, when I wrote Grace in Some Boys, I envisioned her as tough, out-spoken and a cage-rattler. She prefers to instigate arguments rather than keep the peace. In essence, she's my polar opposite.

This photo of Kristen Stewart is EXACTLY how I envision Grace.

SOME BOYS did in fact get production company attention and I had such fun imagining who'd get the role of Grace.

As for Ian in that same book, I adore the actor who played Clay in 13 Reasons Why.

Image result for Dylan Minnette Dylan Minnette would be perfect as Ian Russell.

Though I love casting imaginary celebrities in roles that don't exist, it's worth noting I'm not doing this based solely on appearance. It's about attitude. Character. Personality. For example, Dylan doesn't look much like Ian, though he easily could. Ian has brown eyes and floppy brown hair. But that's cosmetic. What makes him perfect for the role of Ian is the earnestness with which he portrays Clay in 13RW. Ian spends much of SOME BOYS confused and frustrated by that confusion. Dylan could not only pull this off, I suspect he'd knock it out of the park.

Character development is my favorite part of a book project. I approach it with excitement and anticipation.

Addendum: Though this is not YA fiction, I have an unpublished romance novel featuring Jin-Thomas Clarke, a Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative journalist. This is my dream pick for him:

This is actor Gilles Marini, who I had the great pleasure of meeting in 2015.

(...but that is a story for another time.)

Have you read my books? Who would you cast in their main character roles?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


When I was about 13, I discovered Christopher Pike. I loved his stuff. LOVED. The first one I read was FALL INTO DARKNESS, and then I just devoured as many as I could get my hands on.

At the time (and in the years since), I always said Pike’s books read “like movies.”

What did I mean by that?

His books were fast-paced. They were scenic. They were visual. High stakes were usually involved. I remember some sort of chase scene toward the end of FALL INTO DARKNESS during which the character attempting the escape was basically in a kind of ever-shifting snowdrift that was acting like quicksand.

I’d grown up on books that largely focused on interpersonal relationships. Realism. Blume and Cleary. But Pike? They were a completely different world. When I read them, I didn’t just feel them. I saw them. He put a screen up there in my head where all the action scenes came to life.

I’ve read plenty of mysteries or action novels since. But there was just something about those first Pike books. That feeling of You can really do this in a book?

Yes. Yes, you can. And readers will thank you for it.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Why I'm Writing a Screenplay Adaptation of Unnamed Roads (Alissa Grosso)

Last year I released my first fully self-published novel. (Previously the rights on my first three traditionally published books had reverted back to me and I republished those.) Unnamed Roads came out last spring and has been quietly selling.
I'm pretty sure at one point or another, every author has dreamed of their book being turned into a movie. Who wouldn't want to see their story on the big screen? And, of course, we'd all be happy with the extra book sales a cinematic release would most likely generate.

When my first novel Popular, was about to be published, I was contacted by a producer who was looking for high school themed content for Fox. Of course I sent him a copy of the book, but alas, it wasn't quite what they were looking for. I can understand that. I think it would be tough to turn that novel into a movie or TV show.

Unnamed Roads on the other hand is a book that I think would translate nicely to film, which is why I've begun writing a screenplay adaptation. Now, before you get all excited, no Hollywood producers have reached out to me. This is purely a passion project for me.

Realistically, there are a LOT of novels published each year, and only a handful of them will be be optioned for film or television. Of that handful only a small percentage will ever become movies or television shows. With that in mind, there are probably a lot better ways to spend my time. So, that's why this screenplay project of mind is something I only work on here and there as time allows.

I should also warn those of you who are planning on following in my footsteps, that should you become one of the chosen ones whose book gets optioned, chances are they are going to want their own screenwriter or team of writers to tackle the screenplay, because nine times out of ten professional screenwriters are going to produce a much better screenplay than anything an author can put together. 

Yet, still I'm forging ahead with this little screenwriting project of mine. It's like the writing equivalent of a vision board or my own little field of dreams. So page by page my little novel is becoming a movie, at least in my head.

Alissa Grosso is the author of 7 books and chronicles her writing and publishing misadventures on the Awkward Author vlog and podcast. Find out more about her at

Monday, May 13, 2019

Real to Reel (Jodi Moore)

" was all so perfect in my head."

Years ago, I was honored to perform in a community theater production of the play Quilters. This line, which I continually embrace and identify with, was delivered by our brilliant director several times over the rehearsal period.

She had a vision. And on those long, challenging nights, we were not living up to it. But she didn’t give up on her idea. Nor did she give up on us. And Quilters was ultimately a success.

When I read, the story unfolds in my mind in larger-than-life, cinematic glory. The same thing occurs when I write.

And it’s all so perfect in my head!

The challenge when writing, however, is to find the words, the right words, the “perfect” words, to ensure my readers are able to envision it too. When I write my picture books, I have the luxury of an illustrator to help lift my vision to heights I’d never even imagined.

But when I write my novels, it’s all me. My words alone must set the scene, introduce the characters and awaken all five senses. My words alone must ignite the readers’ imaginations. My words alone must invite them to immerse themselves in the story heart and soul.

Do I dream of my stories becoming actual movies one day? Absolutely. But before we bust out the popcorn, first, I have to get it right outside of my head. On paper.  

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Book to Film: 10 Things I Hate About You

First, I have to apologize for getting to this so late. April-into-May is one of the hardest times of year for a college professor. I posted final grades for my students on Wednesday, and on Thursday, we trekked across the Rocky Mountains for my son's college orientation and registration for classes for the fall. So, of course, it snowed.

I have been thinking about this month's "book-to-movie" theme a lot, even though I didn't get a chance to write about it until today (way to leave it to the last minute, teach), and rather than talk about dream casting of my own book, I thought I'd talk about movies that have already been made based on the same material from which I draw my inspiration: Shakespeare's plays.

If you didn't already know it, "The Taming of the Shrew," which forms the basis of Finding Kate, is also the basis of one of the best teen films of all time (in my opinion): 10 Things I Hate About You. It starred Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, and you will weep if you watch it now, not only because it is passionate and moving and hilarious, but because Heath Ledger is so effortlessly charming and beautiful and it's heartbreaking that his luminous talent is gone from the world. Of course, as with any teen film, you will also cringe because the actors are all obviously in their mid to late twenties and playing high schoolers, but you go with it because Hollywood. 

Is it perfect? Of course not. The structure has been maintained but the edges of Shakespeare's play have been smoothed and altered for modern day. The overbearing father has been changed to an overprotective single dad who is worried about his daughters' chastity -- more to the point, he's worried they will get pregnant out of wedlock. Thus, instead of the social constraints that will not allow a younger daughter to marry before the elder, this worried dad decrees that his younger daughter cannot date until her older sister does, an event he feels confident will never happen, since Kat (Julia Stiles) is a strong-willed feminist and wants to go to college and thinks boys are stupid and useless. 

I'm making it sound trivial, and in some ways, it is. In some ways, it's your typical high school comedy with high-jinks and stupidity. But watching Kat transform her free-floating rage against men and society into a more nuanced feminism -- and watching her fall in love -- is beautiful. 

One of my favorite supporting characters is Alison Janney's guidance counselor Ms. Perky. Her mix of disdain and exhaustion with her students combines with her not-at-all-secret side job writing erotic fiction at work. She's hysterical. 

Clueless, based on Jane Austen's Emma, made a bigger splash at the time and is probably still better known. But 10 Things I Hate About You, I think, is truer to its source, in its use of language and word play, and more importantly in its attempt to show the characters' growth arcs from beginning to end.  

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Book, Please by Sydney Salter

More than three decades ago, my husband and I included a movie on our first date. We've loved going to movies together ever since - we especially love unique stories and indie films. The superhero glut  has been hard on us.

I have a funny relationship with books made into movies. Naturally, as an avid reader, I want to read the book before the movie comes out. Sometimes I'll see a promising movie preview and race out to buy the book.

But here's the thing: if I really love the book, I often don't want to see the movie. If I don't love a book, I usually won't care about seeing the movie anymore.

Books are just so dang satisfying.

Sometimes I do like to study the difference choices made by authors and screenwriters. The film version of The Firm had a more clever ending and included a difficult scene in which the main character has to admit his infidelity to his wife. John Grisham avoided writing that tricky scene - and to be fair the filmmakers left most of the scene to the actors' reaction shots and dramatic music.

Usually books contain more magic for me. I recently read the book version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes written by Anita Loos in 1925. As charming as Marilyn Monroe is onscreen, she cannot compete with the laugh-out-loud hilarity of Loos' character's voice.

I'll probably continue rushing out to buy and read books when I see movie trailers. I have discovered a lot of good stories that way, and sometimes both the movie and the book are great.

But I sure wish Hollywood (and Broadway for that matter) would take more chances on new material by screenwriters, rather than banking on a book's established popularity. How many great stories are being unseen? I want to watch those unique films!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Of forumulas and formats and one really awesome Irish film by Jenny O'Connell

This is an easy blog to write - I don't think I've ever watched a movie and thought it was better than the book. That said, I'm not a movie person in general. The last time I actually went to the theater to see a film was with my daughter and friends to see Mama Mia 2 (for the record, I am a big Mama Mia fan). Before that... I can't even remember the last time I stepped foot in a movie theater. I can be pressured to watch a movie at home on Netflix, but it's not my go-to activity.

So, since I'm not a big movie watcher, how does a blog theme of "book-to-movie" relate to me? It makes me think of my very good friend Grace, a screenwriter. Years ago when I lived in Chicago, which is where Grace is located, she taught me how screenwriters write. The three-part structure of screenwriting and the "formula" that writers use. Down to the page number. The idea that there was a formula one could use to write blew me away, mostly because I'm not a "trained" writer - didn't study it in college, haven't attended workshops and or joined writers' groups. So the idea that there was a "template" to writing was crazy to me, and a little jarring.

Was writing really that simple? Was it all just a forumula? And if so, why did some stories work and some didn't?

Learning how stories are told on screen made me read books differently. It also made me attempt to fit my stories into the formula? I started asking myself, "If this hasn't happened by page 30, am I doing something wrong?" and things like that.

At the end of the day, though, it didn't change how I write and that brings me to why I really prefer books over movies. The format of a movie just doesn't leave room for the nuances you can include in a book. The way you can get inside a character's head instead of just seeing what they're doing on screen, it's what makes me love to read.

Now... I have to plug one of my all-time favorite movies that makes me wish I'd written it. Sing Street. The characters, the dialog, the pace of the film, it's just perfect to me. Would it be the same if it had been a book first and I'd read the story before seeing it on a screen? I don't know. But in this case, I'm glad it was just a film because, to me, it's perfect.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Line is Ripped From the Headlines: By Kimberly Sabatini

Where's the Line?

In YA, I don't believe the line is defined by the story or the author.

I believe the world we live in draws the line. 
It shows us the places we have to go in order to meet our readers where they are.

 And the line is drawn to make sure our readers are not alone. 

Sometimes, when there's no one else in a reader's life--there's a book to help them make sense of the world they live in and the experiences they're having.

Or it's a book that shares what the rest of the world is experiencing and shows the reader how to understand what they do not know from experience.

The line is ripped from the headlines...

If you believe that YA has gone too far, then what you probably mean is that the world has gone too far.

If you want to move the line on what young adults are reading, you must first move the line on what they are living.

Be the change you want to see in your YA novels.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Book To Movie... Or Movie to Book? by Joy Preble

Which Did You Like better, the book or the movie? That question gets asked a lot-- especially with Netflix grabbing a zillion YA properties to make into films! We know what answer is supposed to be, right? We loved the book more than the movie. The movie was okay, but it skipped this or that or it hit the complex plot lines only broadly, or that character I loved wasn't portrayed the way she was in my head. Or whatever.

But is that always true? Is the book always better? For me it has always depended on the book.. and the movie.

Honestly? I absolutely did not get what the fuss was about with the first Twilight book.  I really didn't. The writing didn't grab me, the narration annoyed me, and back then I was a huge Buffy the Vampire fan and so Edward didn't do it for me, either. (Does anyone remember all those Angel vs Edward memes?) Anyway. Bella and sparkly Edward. Not my cup of tea.

And then I saw the movie. And I was like, Ohhhh. Now I see what people like about the Edward and Bella. Okay. I'm not saying the story was ever my favorite. I think by the end of the series, Bella had gotten what she wanted but sacrificed like zero. I think it glorified her dying to get it. And I don't think the films are perfect, either. There are, for me, far better movies. But the visual medium of film made me understand the story in a way the books never could do.

Often, though, a movie can't capture all the nuance of the book's words. Gayle Forman's Before I Fall is brilliant-- one of my favorite books. It uses the casual time loop so successfully. The film didn't quite do it for me, not in the way of say, Groundhog Day, one of the classic time loop movies.

And sometimes both the book and the movie are their own perfect things. I'm looking at you Simon Vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli and its movie version, LOVE SIMON. The movie diverges a bit here and there but it captures the essence of the characters, especially Simon and his family, and it nails the emotions perfectly. The recent Netflix version of Julie Murphy's adorable DUMPLIN' gets close, too. Netflix's take on Julie Han's delightful To All the Boys I've Loved Before also changes up a few key things but is deliciously watchable.

Of course you are entitled to disagree. Art is about taste, after all.
And there are dozens and dozens of other YA book to movie examples. (I haven't even touched on the whole John Green oeuvre.)

What movie versions of books you loved satisfied you? Which ones didn't?

Monday, May 6, 2019

Just an Excuse to Talk about Cute Guys in Teen Movies (Mary Strand)

This month, our blog topic is “book to movie.”

I’m guessing that this refers to the quality of book-to-movie adaptations, but since I really have no idea that this is IN FACT what it means, I’m going to talk about whatever I want to talk about ... which is movies.  Teen movies.

Zac Efron: why I love High School Musical
I loooooove movies.  I’m all about dialogue and action, in both books and movies, and movies let me absorb a ton of dialogue and action much faster than books can do.  The dialogue in movies, in particular, inspires me in writing my books.

What a Girl Wants?
The guy on guitar!
My favorite movies, especially for the writer in me, are romantic comedies: adult and teen.  But since this blog is all about YA, I’ll stick with teen.

If I do plan to read a book, by the way, I’ll do so before the movie comes out.  I think it’s wrong to see the movie first, then try to read the book, because all of the delicious details are in the book, as well as the way in which you view the characters in your mind.  Aside from that, though, I’m not a snob about books being better than movies.  Sure, I can quibble about details:  after ALL the time J.K. Rowling spent writing about Harry Potter’s GREEN eyes, why did they find an actor with blue eyes?  Obviously, Daniel Radcliffe must’ve been the best actor for the role, and that’s cool, but it was jarring.

Really, though?  Books are great.  Movies are great.  I see no need to choose between them.  Movies can’t provide ALL the details that books can, but movies give us visuals and often music.

John Cusack
Teen movies give us JAKE!!! (actor Michael Schoeffling) from Sixteen Candles, Penn Badgley from Easy A, the adorable English rock-and-roll boyfriend from What a Girl Wants.  Teen movies gave me, personally, John Cusack in pretty much every dorky starring role he ever played, like in Say Anything or The Sure Thing.  Andrew McCarthy: same.  (But Pretty in Pink doesn’t hold up to my current scrutiny, because he dumped Molly Ringwald but then told her that SHE didn’t believe in HIM.  Kinda hard to believe in a guy who dodges you.)  Oh!  Zac Efron in High School Musical?  Syrupy sweet but also swoonworthy.

One teen movie you may not have seen, maybe because YOUR daughter didn’t insist on getting and watching it, was 2010’s StarStruck, featuring Sterling Knight.  I mention this only because he’s not my usual type, but I thought he was adorable, too.  Okay, fine.  He played a musician.  That works.

Anyway.  Today, on this blog, I’m letting myself digress (intentionally, rather than accidentally, which is how I usually digress ALL THE TIME), because sometimes life is a little harder than usual, and it’s been a little hard lately, and sometimes even a grown-up girl needs a pick-me-up in the form of teen movies with cute teen guys.
Penn Badgley in Easy A

After all, why should teenagers have all the fun?

Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at

Sunday, May 5, 2019

My Books Have Always Been Movies—In My Mind

by Fae Rowen

I wrote my first book, a medieval not-so-fantasy, because every night I fell asleep to the characters and their intertwined stories. When the falling-asleep dream continued and expanded for more than a week, I sought the counsel of an English teacher friend.

Thank heaven, she pronounced me sane…but with a story to tell. She suggested I started writing the story.

When I came home from work, I'd write for two or three hours (until my husband asked if he was having cornflakes again for dinner) then, when I went to bed, I'd watch the movie in my head.

I felt like a director—changing little things, talking to my characters about how they needed to act differently, revising their dialogue—until what I'd already written was just right. Then, until I fell asleep, I'd relax and watch the next installment of my movie.

There was no urgency to my writing. Had I known "the story" would end up as a four-hundred page book nine-months later, I never would have sat down in front of the computer. After all, I was a reader, not a writer. But, like many things in my life, it turns out I didn't know everything.

As I wrap up my fifth book, my process has changed. I've taken classes, learned about novel structure, character arcs, putting emotion on the page, dialogue, body language. But every page I write, I still see as part of a movie.

I write speculative science fiction, but I don't worry about the special effects as I write. After all, I'm a writer, not a movie producer or director or actor. I put my characters through some tough situations. In each book there is a good chance people will die if they don't live up to their potential. Things will be blown up. Technology will fail. Space vehicles will crash. And that doesn't count the problems other people make to complicate my characters' lives.

I don't try to make my books like any particular movie, because they are my books, not someone else's. However, editors, producers and screenwriters have compared them to some blockbusters, which gives me hope that someday I'll get to step out of a limo at the premiere of the first movie made from one of my books. Honestly, I don't care which book becomes a movie first. I'll admit to being greedy. I want to see them all on the big screen.

I feel that moment of settling into my theater seat. And the two-hour thrill-ride of the movie itself. No one in the theater will know who I am. No one will wonder who provided the story. But they will have glimpsed part of my universe and felt what my characters know, lived with my themes of love conquers all and how to treat others for that short time.

My hope, I believe, is every writer's: that the brief time readers engage with our work will bring a positive change to their lives, whether it is a change in altitude, a change in a belief system, a change in self-perception, or another positive change.

It is my sincere hope that one day you'll sit down with your box of popcorn and enjoy a foray into one of my worlds. In fact, it's why I continue to write.

About Fae:

Fae Rowen discovered the romance genre after years as a science fiction freak. Writing futuristics and medieval paranormals, she jokes that she can live anywhere but the present. As a mathematician, she knows life’s a lot more fun when you get to define your world and its rules. P.R.I.S.M., Fae's debut book, a young adult science fiction romance story of survival, betrayal, resolve, deceit, and love is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.