This past week I’ve been thinking about adaptations. Mainly because I’ve been re-listening to the Song of Ice and Fire books, and waiting for word of when Season 7 is going to start. July 16th, in case you hadn’t heard.
Adaptations of books are a tricksy business. On the one hand, it could bring the work in question to a much higher level of awareness than the book alone. I’m sure the number of people that have watched the Lord of the Rings films or the Game of Thrones series is much, much higher than the number that have read the books, although I’m also sure there’s also a significant number that did both.
On the other, it can alienate some readers; either because something has been left out or changed or because what ends up on screen doesn’t match the images that they’ve built up in their minds. Or, if you should see the adaptation first, well… I remember reading the foreword to the uncut edition of The Stand; Stephen King made the point that if you watch One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, then read the book, it’s almost impossible not to picture Jack Nicholson.
Like many (I expect), I’ve daydreamed about what it would be like to have an adaptation done of my own work. Would it work better on tv or as a film; who would be cast etc? It’s a very attractive notion. Years ago, when I was still on book one, I think I had at least 75% of the book’s characters cast. I hesitate to think what the casting budget would have to gave been in order to accommodate them all.
One thing I do like, for the ones I have on disc anyway, is listening to the audio commentaries or watching the special features about adapting the books they’re based on. In some ways, I think it helps me, hearing about what works, what doesn’t work and so on. They might be fundamentally different types of story-telling, but I’ll take whatever help I can get…