'Beautiful Creatures' Authors on the Casters Coming to the Big Screen
"Beautiful Creatures" is the biggest YA adaptation since "The Hunger Games." Fueled by a love story between small town boy Ethan and his Caster girlfriend Lena, the novel has been brought to the big screen by writer/direct Richard LaGravenese, who has worked on other book-to-movie scripts like "Water for Elephants." Bookish talked to authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl about their experience, their well-read characters and what YA books they want to see adapted next.
Bookish: What scenes from "Beautiful Creatures" were you most excited to see adapted onto the screen?
Kami Garcia: I was really excited to see the scene in the movie between Mrs. Lincoln/Sarafine and Macon, where they square off in a church about Lena being able to go back to school. I love that scene in the book, and knowing Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson were going to play the roles made me want to see it even more.
Margaret Stohl: Ethan and Lena’s meeting in the rain was super-exciting. I loved seeing Lena’s bedroom. That was always a thrill for me. And I was curious to see how they would [show] the claiming.
Bookish: How involved were you in the adaptation process?
KG: Richard [LaGravenese] consulted us a lot in the beginning. He asked us a lot of questions about the universe, the way things operated. And then we were very clear: We did not want to co-write the screenplay. We had other books in the series to write, and we are also not screenwriters, and he is incredibly talented not only as a screenwriter, but particularly at adaptations. We felt we were in good hands and we needed to let him do his thing. We feel like there are differences, but there are also additions. You get to see Ridley’s claiming, and you get to see scenes that we only mention very briefly in the book. We feel like the movie is a great representation of our world if you have never read the book. But, if you have read the book, it’s almost like an extension of the universe, where you get to see some of your favorite scenes, you get to see your favorite characters, and the romance. And then you get to see some things that we didn’t spend as much time on as we would have liked.
MS: If we were worried about anything, it was a big deal to learn that he was combining the characters of Amma and Marian. Those are very important characters to us. When we actually saw how it was going to go down, he did it so gracefully and seamlessly, we thought it actually really worked. So, I would say that was the one worry we had and it wasn’t, ultimately, a problem.
Bookish: How do you think the loyal fans of the series are going to react when they see that on screen?
MS: The fans of the stories have already been going through this. Our readers know about [the film's combination of Amma and Marian] and it’s already been hotly debated in the online world. So definitely people will have reactions, but nobody will be able to argue with the strength of Viola Davis in the film. She's sort of the soul of the movie, and her eyes carry the weight of the sacrifices that go on at the end of the book. I don’t think anyone will argue with that.
Bookish: Books are central to both of the main characters: For Ethan, they serve as his way of escaping Gatlin. Were books a form of escape when you were kids or teenagers?
MS: Kami was my children’s teacher and we met because we are the two people who love books the most of anyone we know. We swap books back and forth all the time. I grew up sitting in my closet waiting to go Narnia. I was the head of the Susan Cooper/"Dark Is Rising" fan club in third grade. I was an obsessive fantasy reader from the time I could read at all. I was very shy--I didn’t speak to anyone outside of my family until the fourth grade. I was the person who stayed awake reading by the nightlight until the scary shadows made me crazy.
KG: I was the same way. Books were also really important to me; I read all the time. I got in trouble for reading books in my desk while the teacher was teaching lessons. I was a huge fantasy reader; I loved Tolkien but I also loved Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. I read "The Outsiders" 150 times. I had friends, I was never an outcast, but I always felt kind of weird--like I didn’t fit in. And books were kind of a way for me to find a place where I felt comfortable.
Bookish: What is the YA novel you would most like to see adapted for the big screen?
MS: I’m really happy that my friend Melissa de la Cruz’s book was picked up to be a TV series called "The Witches of East End." I would have to say that I would really love to see Leigh Bardugo’s book "Shadow and Bone" because it’s set in a sort of Tsarist Russia, which I think would be a fabulous cinematic setting.
KG: I am dying to see Tahereh Mafi’s "Shatter Me" as a film, which I know is optioned, but I’m hoping is going to be developed. The other one I love is a series called "The Curse Workers" by Holly Black about supernatural organized crime. I would love to see that as a film.