Thursday, October 21, 2010

When Your Book Gets A Hollywood Make-Over

I’ve always said that if my books were adapted to television I wouldn’t make a big deal about the changes Hollywood would want to make to my stories.  I’m not an “artiste” and I know that what I’m writing is commercial fiction rather than high-minded literature.  So I figured that if I was ever lucky enough to get my work adapted I would be understanding, even encouraging, of decisions to tweak or even out right change things in order to make my work more TV-friendly.

But here’s the thing, now there is a real chance that the Sophie Katz Mystery series will become a television series (although it's FAR from definite) and I’m being asked to make some real changes.  Turns out real changes are much more daunting than theoretical ones.  Go figure.  Every time I’m asked to make a change a little voice in my head starts stammering, “But, but, but, that’s not the way it goes!”  Fortunately most of these suggestions are delivered via email so I can scream, stomp my feet and pout in the privacy of my own home before writing up a very calm and politic email response.    

Of course not all the suggestions are bad. Sometimes (once I’ve finished screaming and pouting) I realize that the suggestion in question is really quite good.  But of course as soon as I make peace with the change another, more drastic change is put before me and then I have to add throwing things to my screaming-stomping-pouting tantrum.

The reality is that an author’s books are sort of her children (although admittedly I do love my actual child significantly more than my books but you know what I mean). When someone tells you that in order to adapt your books they will need to be changed in significant ways it’s like they’re telling you that your daughter has just walked into the office of a nearby plastic surgeon where she plans on getting a new nose and boobs.  And now your daughter doesn’t even look like you!  She’s transformed and been given a totally new image! It’s like your daughter is Cher!  And all you want to do is shake your child and say, “What the hell was wrong with the family nose?  I have that nose, and if it’s good enough for me it’s good enough for basic cable!”  

But you can’t approach it that way.  Children (and Hollywood power players) don’t respond well to hysterics.  So instead you say, “Hey, I understand your need for a new look, but why don’t we just start with a little bit of collagen and take it from there?”  

That’s where I’m at with this thing. I’m sitting with my daughter during her consultation with the plastic surgeon trying to find ways to enhance her natural beauty without totally changing her look.   

And every once in a while I remind myself that no matter what the plastic surgeon does, he won’t alter the essence that makes my child unique. An essence that I helped to foster and develop.

And when I can remember that I don’t have such a big problem with the nose job.


Robin Kaye said...


Congratulations! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the deal goes through - Movies and TV are such long shots - and that you have the intestinal fortitude to deal with the changes they're asking for. Enjoy the ride, it's gonna be a wild one!

Christie Craig said...

Hi Kyra,

Wow. First congrats,and then I have one recommendation. Buy a lot of cheap crap to thrown and break. Keep your good stuff put up some place really high.

It sounds very exciting.


Angie Fox said...

Too funny, Kyra. And congrats! That is so exciting to be at the, "You want to change what???" stage.

I'll never forget Meg Cabot's talk at RWA one year where she tells about the Disney people calling and asking for information about The Princess Diaries.

They wanted to know if Monrovia had lakes, and if so, where. She said, "I don't know. I made it up! But yes, if you want lakes, then you can have them."

Gemma Halliday said...

I totally know what you mean. When SPYING IN HIGH HEELS was being developed, the changes were very hard to take. (Like totally changing who the hero was... wtfudge?!)

Crossing my fingers we get to see Sophie on the small screen soon!! TV needs more good characters like her.


kyradavis said...

Thank you all for your well wishes. I too have my fingers crossed but am trying desperately to keep my expectations in check. And yes, I think I'll take Christie's suggestion about getting cheap stuff to throw. I'm adding visit-the-dollar-store onto my to-do list now ; )

Unknown said...

Way to go! This is exciting news.

I think it's cool that you're picking your battles. That way you have more power to the punch when there is something that really makes you want to hold your breath. *grin*

Diane Kelly said...

Wow! Hollywood! That's awesome! I once heard Jill Conner Browne, author of the Sweet Potato Queens books, talk about Hollywood and how they were trying to adapt her work for TV. Very interesting. Even though we're all in the entertainment industry, seems that book people and movie/TV people think a little differently. I think it all comes down to the product - what works on a page isn't necessarily what works on a screen. But more power to you! From what I hear, a lot of writers get virtually no input when their books are made into TV shows or movies, so it's probably saying a lot that they are keeping you involved! Congrats!

Jana DeLeon said...

That would be so cool! And yes, trying to get anything through Hollywood is a pain. My agent has come so close for me a couple of times then a no. ugh

Here's hoping we see Sophie on the big screen (tv at least) soon. :)