Book Events, Books, Events, Web

Author Insight – Guest Blog: Jennifer Knight Digs In To Book-Based Movies & TV vs. The Books Themselves

Since I was a kid, movies and books have both been a huge part of my life. I’m not all that social, so reading and watching others’ stories were my way of experiencing the world when I wasn’t up to being the “ditsy blonde” of the classroom. So when my favorite novels, such as Harry Potter, Twilight, and True Blood began showing up on the big screen, I was thrilled. What could be better than a book made into a movie? It’s the best of both worlds!

Except not.

At least, not necessarily. We’ve all experienced it. We find out our favorite book is turning into a T.V. series or movie and excitedly sit down to witness the utter awesomeness of seeing the characters we’d pictured oh-so clearly in our heads portrayed on screen. It simply couldn’t get better than this! Until you realize…it pretty much sucks.

Come on. Anyone who’s read the Harry Potter series will tell you that the movies pale in comparison to the complete and total epic-ness of the books. And if you’ve ever seen the Twilight movies…just the thought of them induces a shudder. Not that I don’t enjoy the eye-candy. I do. But it’s not just the people playing the roles that messes these movies up. Nor is it the setting—it looks just like we imagined it, right? And the lines are the same, if not similar. Nobody can fault the director, since he or she clearly did a fine job with what they were given…so what the heck?

Why do movies and T.V. shows oftentimes suck compared to the books?

Before I go there, I have to give credit where credit is due. Not all movies adaptations are stinkers. Look at True Blood. Okay, granted it’s a T.V. show and not a movie, but go with me. I started reading the True Blood series before the show debuted and I loved the books. Sookie and Bill’s sexy romance made for some excellent late-night reading, and the plot felt rich and intriguing. The writing was excellent. What more could I ask for?

And then the show premiered. At first, it was basically the book put to screen…and then a few episodes passed and—I stopped reading the books. The show was so amazing I didn’t want to ruin it by reading the books first. This was unprecedented. I’d never been so enthralled by a movie or T.V. show that I actually put down the books in order to preserve the mystery of the show. As a lifelong lover of books (and, hello, an author) I couldn’t help but wonder why? What made this show – and a handful of movies – so much better than the books?

In the case of True Blood, I have to go with all of the side stories. In the books, there is none of that. Tara is a tier three character at best, Lafayette gets killed off in book one, and Jason is practically a nonexistent character until around book four. As much as I loved the books (and I so do) I couldn’t help but feel cheated after seeing the show. Where was Tara’s role? Why couldn’t she be BFFs with Sookie? I missed the storyline of Jason doing V, and Sam shooting his brother in the leg.

The richness of these side characters’ stories and the emotional depth that’s played out in the show is just lacking in the books. And I get that it’s supposed to be a crime mystery/vampire romance novel and that you can’t include all of the side stories in a 60,000-ish word book, but it really made me understand the importance of well-developed side characters. They may not be as important as our heroes, but they matter to the reader, and as evidenced by True Blood, they make the story so much more real.

But let’s face it: True Blood is a welcome exception to the movies v. books battle. More often than not, the movie is trash when held up to the book, and as a writer, I have to wonder why? What about these books is so amazing, and why doesn’t it translate to the big screen?

My explanation? It’s a culmination of two things: time and inner narrative.

It’s just a fact of life that you cannot squeeze in every single scene from a book into a two-and-a-half hour movie. Even the super long movies like the epic three-hour Lord of the Rings sagas can’t fit it all in. So we have to accept that some things will be left out. Which, yeah, sucks. We don’t want scenes to be erased! We love those scenes! Those scenes are what made us fall in love with the books, and what made us spend $15 to come see the movie adaptation. I found myself thinking after the Harry Potter movies, that I would have sat around and watched thirty more minutes it they’d only included another Quidditch match.

But maybe I’m just a HP nerd.

Okay, I’m definitely a nerd. But that’s beside the point.

The point? Us writers have the upper-hand when it comes to the timing issue. We can include so much more in books. The trick is to make sure that this extra wiggle room is used to our advantage. Useless scenes that fail to move the plot forward are well, useless. Just because a book is long (and holy crap the sci-fi books my husband reads sometimes cross the thousand-page marker, so I know these suckers are long) doesn’t mean it’s good. Each scene has to mean something. And in great books, they do. So stop taking them out, movie people!

Second issue: inner narrative. Now, this is an element a writer can really take advantage of. In books, the author is blessed with the ability to get inside his characters’ heads. He can analyze their every thought and choose to either hide it from the reader or exploit it to serve his story. In movies, it’s more difficult to portray the complex, and sometimes conflicting emotions roiling around in our hero’s mind. They usually end up saying their feeling aloud or acting them out, which, while effective at times, just doesn’t measure up to actually feeling these things with the characters the way you do in a book.

In a book, it’s almost as if you are the character and everything they go through, you go through right along with them. And while it is possible to empathize with an on-screen character, well, it’s just not the same. You don’t get that closeness you get when reading a book. In other words, it’s not a personal experience. And that’s ultimately what you take away from a great book, right? Something that affected you in a personal way. It’s possible to do in a movie, but I think it’s almost always more impactful in a book.

Movies v. books will battle forever in pop culture, warred between those who live for books and those who’d rather see the “speedy version.” I’m still not sure which side I’m on, since I’m crazy about both forms – all I can say is that no matter how many horrible movie adaptations I see, I’m still going to go see the final Twilight movie. And the Hunger Games. And The Mortal Instruments. And The Hobbit. And whatever comes next.


Thanks Jen! If you’re curious about Jen and her books, check her out at her goodreads account! And see her on Lytherus, with the review of her book Blood on the Moon, and her author interview!




Book Events, Books, Events

BEA, Day Three: We’re Tired, but it was Worth it!

(Jackie Krah) BEA wrapped up today. I couldn’t be too sad as we walked away with an absurd amount of great ARCs and professional contacts. (I believe Lauren wants to tell you about our shipping fiasco. The post office hated us.) The highlight moment of day three barely had competition for me. We decided to swing by the IDW Comics booth before we said goodbye to the coolest experience ever. Mike wanted to check out some info about the Dr. Who comic series, and I hadn’t gotten a chance to talk to their publicity reps yet.

Wow, am I glad that we did. After talking to a spectacularly nice and helpful IDW representative I scored several volumes worth of reviewable comics. Look forward to upcoming reviews on True Blood vol. 1, a G.I Joe series by Max Brooks (son of Mel Brooks) and graphic novel additions to James Patterson’s Witch and Wizard books. Lauren also got some spectacular booty – but I believe she’s eager to tell you about that herself.

Mike began to talk about other things as we turned the corner away from the IDW booth (where they could no longer see me therefore I could switch from the professional to the fan-girl side of my personality). Lauren held up her hand to tell him to hold on for just one second. Then she looked at me, knowing exactly what to expect. I, predictably, burst into a happy dance. I’m a big fan of IDW in general, and am extraordinarily excited to discover new series to delve into and share with you.

Don’t be too jealous. We were absolutely thinking of our viewers the entire time. Many of the book ARCs that we procured we were also able to get a copy (usually signed) to give away on the site at the time of the review/ interview. We couldn’t do this with all the books, but whenever the opportunity presented itself, we grabbed a copy to share. (As I said. The post office HATES us.) More on these giveaways to come!

A stack of our books after only the first two days!

(Lauren Zurchin) I am tired. Dead on my feet (actually, I’m sitting in bed, watching a movie in our hotel room, but I digress). Because I just had one of the most rewarding, wonderful weeks of my life, which was capped off by today.

There was only one official thing on the agenda this morning: Christopher Paolini was receiving an award from the Guinness Book of World Records for being the youngest author to ever have a best-selling series. How cool is that? I don’t know how he wasn’t giddy; I know I would be (though he did mention that he was talking about it so much at home that eventually his sister told him to shut up!). We got some nice pics, and then went off to visit the remainder of the convention.

Considering we already had more books than we knew what to do with, we were thinking we wouldn’t end up picking any up today. Wrong! There were some being given away, including Lauren Oliver’s new Middle Grade book Liesl & Po. We also visited the blogger convention which was happening a level below. It wasn’t as well-developed as we expected, but it was still nice to get cards for potential future connections.

Something extraordinary that happened to me, the book girl. I got given a breathtakingly beautiful hard-back graphic novel of The Last Unicorn. Anyone ever seen that movie? I loved it as a child, the beauty and the hauntingly dark parts. Even back then it drew me in. So to see there was a gorgeous version of the story, drawn to look pretty much the same, was amazing. And the guy at IDW gave it to me! Needless to say, I was over the moon, and I’ll be sure to review it soon.

So, as you can see from the above photo, we had a TON of books. That photo doesn’t even include the ones we got today. So imagine trying to take all of those home on the bus. Granted, they were split between three people, but I had almost as many as Jackie and Mike combined. So after we left the convention center, we headed over to the post office to mail one of my suitcases home. It turned into a disaster. At first it was too heavy, and then it needed to be wrapped in bubble wrap and taped, and one person said one thing and another said another. So at the end we had a box filled to the brim with books, and a lighter suitcase wrapped and taped to be sent on its way. Over an hour later, we finally finished, to come back to the hotel and relax on our beds, where we haven’t left.

There is so much I want to say about this event, but overall, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I cannot wait to share all of the wonderful things we got and learned with you, our lovely readers.

Book Events, Books, Events

The Cornelia Funke Pittsburgh Library Event, a Prequel to the Lytherus Exclusive Interview!

Cornelia Funke Autographing books at the end of her event on Sunday, April 10th, 2011


New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke was in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this past Sunday for an event through our city library. I had the pleasure of interviewing her before this occasion (the transcript of which will be posted in parts beginning later this week), and also got to experience her in her element during the event, answering audience questions and autographing books.

Cornelia reading from Reckless

The event took place in the city library’s theater, which was filled with fans young and old, desperate to get a chance to interact with one of their favorite authors. Funke (pronounced FOON-kah), having done this many times before, knew that there would be a lot of questions from the curious readers of her books, so this set the shape of the event, having most of it be a Q & A with the audience.

Corneila getting into the illustrating.

But first, to get everyone warmed up, she started off by reading the beginning pages of her newest book, Reckless (click here to see the Lytherus review). She also took a break from reading to draw some illustrations on a nearby art board—she began her professional career as an illustrator, something she still continues to do to this day in her own books, and it was nice to see a live demonstration of her abilities.

Q & A with audience memebers.

There was a good 45 minutes of a question and answer session, but sadly the sound system in the theater wasn’t great, so I can’t decipher the audio recording I made. However, the questions were common ones, so I have included both a video interview and a few transcripts from Scholastic, her Inkheart publisher, for you to enjoy.


The first of a two-part Lytherus Cornelia Funke interview will be posted later this week, but to hold you over until then, here are links to those past interviews .

Scholastic 8-part video interview

Scholastic Q & A Transcript

I’d encourage you to check out these interviews before reading the Lytherus interview, as many of the questions I asked her build off of basic knowledge of her life and work that is revealed in these previous Q & A sessions. We’ll be bringing you the detailed transcript beginning later this week, so stay tuned as Cornelia talks about the Reckless world, the process of writing, why she chooses the magic elements in her stories, and much more!


A close-up of Cornelia's illustrations. Can you see which books they relate to?

Want a Little More Steampunk? Check Out A Convention!

The steampunk genre has really taken off in recent years, and this awesome list just goes to show how far this genre has come. Airship Ambassador has created an awesome list of all of the Steampunk conventions happening this year. posted it on their site in a nice summary. There are actually so many things happening that had to condense the list! Here’s a little of what they had to say about that:

I’d also stick in monthly meet-ups  and one-time events too, but as far as I can tell, there are too many to count (and growing!) To compromise, though, let me recommend the extensive listing, updated frequently, on The Airship Ambassador and additional news from The Steampunk Tribune.

Seems like Steampunk is here to stay!

Not sure what exactly Steampunk is, or want to learn a little more? Check out the Lytherus intro to Steampunk.