• The great divide!!

    07 August 2009
    Heh heh!! Judging by the responses to my last email, the neutrals are far happier with the trailer than a lot of you guys are!!! But to be honest, I can't really feel any sympathy for you!! And I don't mean that to sound rude -- I'm just being pragmatic. From day one, nearly ten years ago, the most asked question from fans (after where do my ideas come from?) has been, "Is there going to be a movie?!?" Most of you have asked for this, and longed for this, for a long time now. And, well, I hate to throw a cliche your way, but you should be careful what you wish for!!!!

    The hard, cold reality of life is that this is what happens when books are turned into films. Changes are made. Plot lines and characters are dropped. The logic of the book is turned on its head. The film-makers slip in their own ideas and twist things round to suit them. It all sounds horrible, I know, but the thing is, that NEEDS to happen if a movie is to work on its own terms. A movie doesn't have the same time or space that most books have to tell its story. A book is intended to be read in several sitting, usually over the space of at least a few days, with readers investing a lot of time and thought in what's going on -- so a writer can afford to take their time, to introduce a plethora of characters and plots. A movie is made to be seen in a single sitting, and most viewers will be munching on popcorn and slurping coke -- so stories have to be simplified and presented in a way that a less involved viewer can appreciate. And before anyone accuses me of being derogatory about movies -- I love movies. LOVE them!!!! Simplifying is NOT the same as dumbing down. I love movies that are complex and twisting and challenging. But even the cleverest movie can't usually compete with its literary counterpart.

    A good example (especially given that Brian Helgeland, writer of the original script for the film, wrote that one too) is L.A. Confidential. It's a dark, labyrinthine, intelligent beast of a movie -- yet it was a vastly simplified version of the story told in the book. The novel wasn't dumbed down for the screen -- but it WAS drastically altered and chopped up and reassembled, in order for it to work in a new, visual medium, where the demands of the viewer are far less than then demands that can be made of a reader.

    There are basically four types of movie adaptations (with an endless scale, from rubbish to brilliant, applying to each). They are:

    Good, faithful adaptations.
    Bad, faithful adaptations.
    Good, unfaithful adaptations.
    Bad, unfaithful adaptations.

    As soon as it was announced that the movie was to be made from the first three books of the series, the first two options went out the window. No single movie could incorporate all of the characters and scenes from three books, not without being 5 or 6 hours long!!! To drive that fact home, I've stressed ever since I announced that the rights had been sold, that the movie would NOT be faithful. To get upset about that at this stage is to betray your innocence or ignorance or both -- so, again, as I said above, I don't have any sympathy for those who moan that Mr Crepsley doesn't speak the way he does in the books, or that Cormac Limbs has become a woman, or... Those sorts of changes were ALWAYS going to be made. And there will be many more changes which aren't apparent from the video.

    Would I have loved it if a movie company had made a good, faithful film just based on the first book of the series? Of course. I think any writer would be lying if they said otherwise. But I'm also realistic enough to know that that could never happen -- there has never been a linear, linked series of 12 movies made by a Hollywood film studio. The Harry Potter films, I think, are the most there's ever been, and that really only happened because of the phenomenal success of the books -- it created a situation where demand existed for so many movies. To tell the whole story of the 12 books of my vampire series (which I'm sure we all hope happens, even if it's in a shortened, very different version), major cuts and changes HAD to be made. It was either let them do this, or not let them make a film at all.

    That leaves us with two possibilities -- a good, unfaithful adaptation, or a bad, unfaithful adaptation. I'm hoping for the former, and the quality of the trailer makes me think that it might happen -- though I won't make up my mind one way or the other until I see the finished, complete film. I suspect, even if it IS good, that it might appeal more to people who haven't read the books, since they won't be looking out for all of the changes and cuts to the storyline -- they'll be prepared to accept the film on its own terms. That might sound like the fans of the books are getting a raw deal, but I don't see it that way. As I said in my last post, for me the main reason in agreeing to let my books be filmed was to hopefully attract a crowd of new fans to the books. Movies and books are two completely different media, with different strengths and drawbacks. I always think it's better to see a film first, then read the book afterwards -- that way the film whets your appetite, while the book takes you further into the world of the story. In a way, a movie is like a very extended trailer for a book. If people like the movie of Cirque Du Freak, they will then be able to come to the books are discover far more characters and story-lines, and experience the story again, but in its purest, most advanced form. If you go at the story the other way young, i.e. read the book first and watch the movie later, then you have to accept that you're going to be getting less for you buck second time round -- in a way, you're going from swimming in an Olympic size swimming pool, to swimming in a paddling pool, albeit a paddling pool in which you can hopefully have a lot of fun!!!!

    You guys are my TRUE fans. We all know that. And you guys know, from the amount of time that I spend blogging and working on the web site, that I love each and every one of you, and appreciate the time and love that you devote to the worlds which I have created. I'm always looking to give more back to you guys, through competitions, news snippets, doing lots of touring, signing as many books as you choose to bring to any of my events, etc. But the thing is, the best thing I can give to you is the thing I gave to you first -- the books. Everything after that -- the touring, the web site, the comps, the movie -- is a simple extra. The books are what truly bind us together. The stories are the only real reason why you're reading this long-winded blog in the first place!!! You've been great to me over the years, and I like to think that I've been great to you. I spend a lot of time trying to produce the very best books that I can, to give you value for money and feed your dreams. But, just like the vampire clan, I need to keep adding fresh blood to the ranks!! The bigger a fan base I have, the more I can stay in control of my destiny and write the books that I WANT to write. We all live in the real world. We all have bills to pay, families to raise, etc. Many writers are forced to write for cash, as a straightforward job. I'm in the very lucky position of being able to write for fun, but I never take that position for granted. The movie will bring new fans on board, and hopefully some of them will become true fans, like you guys, and that, for me, is the whole point and purpose of the thing. It's a way of hooking in new readers and ensuring that our freaky, fabulous journeys together can continue for many years to come.

    The movie might be good. The movie might be bad. That is yet to be decided. The one thing that IS certain is that it will be radically, drastically, necessarily different. Either don't go and see it if you can't handle that simple, essential fact. Or, like me, learn to live with it, and take it on its own terms, for what it is.

    Right -- that's going to be my last word on the trailer and movie for the time being. My next blog will be all about writing again -- hurrah!!!!! Enjoy your weekend, folks!!
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