First of all, thank you for answering my previous question (your answer was long and definitely worth the read!). I especially liked the way you defined an expert novelist – “Expert doesn’t mean the product is perfect, only that the results are conscious and shaped, rather than a splatter of hope, energy, desire held together by fledgling skills and a prayer….” Even though I have been writing for nearly a decade, I am still quite young, and I found your words to be both refreshing and encouraging.
So, here’s my newest question for you: if Solitaire ever became a movie, who do you see in the roles of your characters? Would you even want it to be a movie?
Have a nice day. I’ll be back soon to read your response.
I’d love Solitaire to become a movie, especially if the film preserved the emotional core of the book, although I couldn’t control that. Those are the dice you roll when you sell a book to the movies – there’s a reason they call the process “adapting,” and it’s not just the book that has to adapt, you know? It’s everyone, including, maybe especially, the author. Nicola has also just recently posted some musings on the subject of book-to-film, and while I’m not sure I would go so far as to say I don’t care a whit about plot, I do agree that details go up for grabs. Some things can’t be translated.
What I would want is someone to make a movie about Solitaire because they cared about the same things I did: the essential characters and relationships, and what I think of as the heart of the book, the reconstruction of self and the power of hope. Some of the plot is necessary for that, and it seems to me it would defeat the purpose to morph the story into a cyberpunk revenge-thriller with lots of Ko baddies in sharkskin suits and dark glasses stalking Jackal across the NNA. But that could happen, and maybe it would be a better movie. It just wouldn’t be the book.
There’s something about writing that makes people inclined to treat their own work as sacred and immutable. But it can’t be that way in film or television, which are such collaborative media. In a funny way, I think my background in facilitation made it a lot easier for me when I first encountered this fundamental difference in worldview, when Alien Jane was adapted for Welcome to Paradox on the Sci Fi Channel. I had one author tell me point-blank that I shouldn’t watch the episode, that it would only upset and anger me, and that it was inevitable that “they” would ruin the story. I was startled by that point of view. I assumed (still do) that TV and movie people want to tell the best story they can, just like I do, and that they look for the best way in their medium the same way I do in mine. I know this is possibly naÃ¯ve, certainly not true in all cases, but it’s still my default assumption. Most people don’t try to make crap.
Anyway, it was a genuine thrill to see Alien Jane on the screen, and to marvel over the changes as well as the similarities. I had a great experience corresponding with the people who made the show; they were charming, enthusiastic, intelligent and thoughtful, and were in fact trying to tell the best story they could. I was delighted to be a part of it, and I’d do it again in a New York second. But I wouldn’t expect a movie of Solitaire to be my vision of the story: I’d expect it to be the combined vision of the director, producer, screenwriter, actors, editor, cinematographer…. a veritable artistic gumbo. How cool it would be, to have something I wrote be the seed of such collaboration.
As far as casting, nope, I have no opinions about specific actors. I did have an actor in mind when I wrote Neill, but that’s just my private vision, and I think there are many folks who could play the role well. I think it would be mistake to make everybody white or whitebread, and I think it would be a mistake to make Snow a boy, but I can imagine either happening.
Ah, the visions in my head…. it would be such a kick to visit the set of Solitaire (something I didn’t get to do with Alien Jane because I didn’t ask quickly enough, and they had already finished shooting) and see the work in process, see some part of the essential book coming to life. Wow. I would sit in a corner with a goofy grin, I’m sure. Witnessing creation can be really boring and sometimes frustrating, but it can also be a pure rush when all the work comes together. I’ve experienced it enough in my time as an actor, and a facilitator, to treasure it when I see it happen in the world.