We’ve noticed that books (with the exception of political books) get little coverage on network TV, so we were happy to see that Katie Couric covers many authors on her web show @katiecouric.
Just Tuesday, her conversation with Kathryn Stockett, best-selling author of The Help, was posted. During the hour-long interview, Stockett also took questions from book clubs in Ohio and Washington D.C. via Skype, and in a separate segment (without Stockett) Couric interviewed three women from Jackson, Mississippi—the setting of the novel.
If you loved The Help—and I know many of you do, since it was the #1 book in our Best Books of 2009 reader survey—then you’ll be interested to hear about Stockett’s relationship with Demetrie, her own family’s help, and why the author wanted to tell this story.
Watch the interview here:
I was especially excited to hear Stockett mention the movie version of The Help—news to me. A quick online search shows that Tate Taylor (Pretty Ugly People) will direct. According to Variety, “Taylor grew up with Stockett in Mississippi—his mother inspired one of the Mississippi matriarchs in the novel—and was so helpful to the author that she gave him an early peek; an option was made well before the book came out.”
On the @katiecouric website, find interviews with Sapphire, the author of Push (the movie-version, Precious, is nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture); Malcolm Gladwell; and other authors.
What authors would you like to see Couric interview? Did you learn anything surprising in the Stockett segment?
By the way, in my Stockett research for this post, I learned on the PenguinUK website that the author is at work on a second novel: “It also takes place in Mississippi, during the 1930’s and the Great Depression. It’s about a family of women who learn to get around the rules, rules created by men, in order to survive.” I can’t wait for this one! What about you?
Related in BookPage: Read our interview with Kathryn Stockett about The Help.
When I went home to Arkansas in December, conversation on more than one occasion drifted toward the Coen Brothers’ new movie adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel True Grit, which opens on Christmas Day 2010.
Why are they re-making the film that won John Wayne his only Oscar? Were any locals auditioning for the role of 14-year-old Mattie Ross? Had anyone had a sighting of Portis, the novel’s reclusive author, who lives in Little Rock? And why on earth weren’t the Coens shooting the movie in Yell County, Arkansas, where the novel takes place? (Instead it’s being shot in New Mexico, which has high film incentives.)
For a while we’ve known that Jeff Bridges will be Rooster Cogburn, the U.S. marshal who journeys with Mattie on the search to find her dad’s killer (played by Josh Brolin). Matt Damon will play Texas Ranger La Boeuf. But yesterday, Variety reported that newcomer Hailee Steinfeld has been cast in the all-important role of Mattie, who narrates the novel. Although the John Wayne version plays up the role of Cogburn, the Coens plan to focus on Mattie’s point-of-view in their adaptation.
There’s little information available about Steinfeld online, such as her age or hometown.
True Grit fans: Can you see her as Mattie?
I have a confession that will probably embarrass my co-workers: I loved Avatar. Yes, there were holes in the plot. And yes, I thought it was predictably annoying that a white guy had to swoop in and save the natives on Pandora. (Haven’t seen the movie and need a summary?)
Throughout the nearly-three-hour movie, though, I watched with my jaw dropped, enraptured by the vibrant colors and awesome plants and animals of Pandora. I completely bought the love story between Jake and Neytiri, and I liked the environmental parable of the story. To tell you the truth, I don’t think I’ve ever been so engrossed in a movie before, and I might even have suffered from some post-Avatar blues after I returned to regular ole’ Earth.
So, I read with great interest when the news broke that director/writer James Cameron is planning to write an Avatar prequel. The book will not be a “novelization” (a.k.a. summary) of the movie, but rather a “big, epic story that fills in a lot of things,” according to producer Jon Landau. The prequel will be Cameron's first book.
Many reviewers have noted that Avatar’s weak link is the clunky/predictable dialogue (“we’ll fight terror with terror,” “you have a good heart,” etc.), and as the New York Times ArtsBeat blog points out, of the nine Academy Awards nominations Avatar has received, none is for best original screenplay. Are there enough fans out there who’ll overlook Cameron’s shortcomings as a writer, and focus on his ability to transport us to another world?
Since Avatar’s success rests largely on its incredible visuals, I wonder why Cameron’s not choosing to go the graphic novel route with the prequel. What do you think, Avatar fans? Will Cameron’s book be filled with cringe-worthy dialogue and a loose plot? Or will it be a welcome ticket back to Pandora?
If you’ve got a need for fantasy and waiting for Avatar just won’t cut it, check out our February Sci-Fi column on BookPage.com.
Actress Uma Thurman is in the news for her roles in two upcoming book-to-film adaptations. First up, she plays Medusa in Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, which hits theaters next month (director Chris Columbus says of the "seductive" star, "you'll look into her eyes and forget that she has 75 snakes on her head.").
But the role that's making waves this week is the one Thurman is taking on in the 2011 adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's Bel Ami: an older love interest of up-and-coming journalist Georges Duroy--who will be played by Twilight star Robert Pattinson. Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas are also on board to play two more women seduced by Duroy during his rise to the top in this adaptation of the 1885 classic, which is a fresh and vivid read even today. Over at iVillage, they're wondering if Uma is too old to play the love interest of 23-year-old RPattz, but I think it's more likely that this role fulfills some teen fantasies of his. How about you?
Readers might be most familiar with de Maupassant for his short story, "The Necklace," which also deals with intrigue in Parisian society.
Her YA art caper novel, Heist Society, hits stores today, and you can read all about it in an interview on BookPage.com. I talked to Carter (also the author of the bestselling Gallagher Girls series) about the book in December and am excited that teens can finally read the book for themselves. (Imagine if Julia Roberts' and George Clooney's characters in Ocean's 11 had a daughter. Who staged a huge heist as a teenager. That would be Kat, the star of Heist Society.)
Carter was a lot of fun to talk to (In response to “How to you feel about Valentine’s Day?” she answered: “Valentine’s Day is the day before all the chocolates go on sale”), so yesterday I was happy to see that Publisher’s Lunch reported a major film rights deal concerning Heist Society. The film rights were optioned to Warner Brothers for seven figures. Denise Di Novi (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) is slated to produce.
On her blog, Carter wrote: “The whole time I was writing Heist I always thought of it as a movie. More than once I've said that it's far more cinematic than anything I've ever done. But what do I know, right? I also think cake is a well-balanced breakfast, so I'm wrong. A lot. . . At the end of the day we ended up signing with Warner Brothers and the talented Denise DiNovi as the producer. The screenplay will be written by the fabulous Shauna Cross (who wrote Whip It and the screenplay for If I Stay).” She also reminded readers that a film option is not a guarantee that a movie will get made—but it’s a step in the right direction.
So commenters: Who would you pick to play Kat, the daughter of notorious art thieves, or her love interest Hale? What’s your favorite heist book?
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
With a movie adaptation set to hit theaters in just a month, now felt like the right time to finally read Dennis Lehane's best-selling suspense novel, Shutter Island. Nothing creeps me out more than something set in a mental institution, and this novel was no exception. It's 1954, and Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels and his partner have been sent to an island insane asylum to find a missing patient. But when a storm sets in and the doctors start acting suspicious, Teddy begins to question his mission—and his sanity.
"Beyond the wall, that way"—he pointed past Ward B—"is the original commander's quarters. You probably saw it on the walk up. Cost a fortune to build at the time, and the commander was relieved of his duties when Uncle Sam got the bill. You should see the place."
"Who lives there now?" Teddy said.
"Dr. Cawley," McPherson said. "None of this would exist if it weren't for Dr. Cawley. And the warden. They created something really unique here."
They'd looped around the back of the compound, met more manacled gardeners and orderlies, many hoeing a dark loam against the rear wall. One of the gardeners, a middle-aged woman with wispy wheat hair gone almost bald on top, stared at Teddy as he passed, and then raised a single finger to her lips. Teddy noticed a dark red scar, thick as licorice, that ran across her throat.
Related in BookPage: our interview with Lehane for The Given Day.
After the jump, you can watch the trailer for Martin Scorcese's adaptation Shutter Island—like the novel, it's guaranteed to give you the creeps!
Kids around the country are probably already counting down the days until the release of Disney’s latest animated film: The Princess and the Frog. The movie, based on E.D. Baker’s 2002 YA novel The Frog Princess and the Grimm brothers’ classic The Frog Prince, opens in New York and Los Angeles today. The rest of us can’t see it until Dec. 11 (such a disappointment, when the trailer – after the jump – looks so fantastic).
Set in New Orleans’ French Quarter, the plot follows Tiana (the first African-American Disney princess) as she’s turned into a frog after a kiss from Naveen – a prince who’d himself been turned into a frog. To reverse the spell, they have to seek out the good voodoo priestess of the Bayou.
Looking forward to the movie, I thought I’d revisit some contemporary fairy tales covered in BookPage (click on the book covers to read the review). Browse, enjoy and tell us: What’s your favorite fairy tale?
Trailer of The Princess and the Frog:
Variety announced recently that Philipp Meyer's critically acclaimed fiction debut, American Rust, will be adapted for film by Walter Salles and Jose Rivera. That's the same writer/director duo who worked on The Motorcycle Diaries and are just finishing up work on the film version of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (read our review of Oscar Wao here).
Scott Stuber, whose most recent project was the Vince Vaughn movie Couples Retreat (about the furthest thing from American Rust we can imagine!) bought the rights and will produce.
Book-to-film is always a risky transition, but the quiet, compelling American Rust, which follos two friends who both long to escape their dying Pennsylvania mining town, might make the jump better than most. If you've read the book, what do you think?
Fans of Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié’s New York Times bestselling Wicked series got a huge surprise on Monday. DreamWorks Studios (known for other book adaptations such as The Kite Runner and forthcoming The Lovely Bones ) bought the movie rights to the five-book saga, which tells the story of Holly Cathers, a descendent of a coven of witches (who falls for a guy from their rival House).
Since we know that a call from DreamWorks is a dream-come-true for an author hoping for a movie deal, we had to contact Holder and Viguié for their reactions to the news.
“Once we hit the New York Times bestseller list, the nibbles we'd had on our books became more serious,” said Holder in an e-mail interview. “Then about three months ago, our literary agent, Howard Morhaim, and our film agent, Michael Prevett of Gotham Group, started preparing us that serious negotiations were about to begin, but I kept a lid on my hopes. Once we were in negotiations with DreamWorks, it dawned on me that we’d been writing about the reality of magic for seven years, and something magical was happening to us. I really took a look at the name of the studio...dream/works. A place that creates dreams. And makes them come true. I think every writer daydreams about selling a novel to a place like DreamWorks, but in our case, we stand to sell them five.”
What Wicked scene do you most want to see on the big screen?
Nancy Holder: Well, avoiding any spoilers, I would love to see one of the big battles. I want to see Holly face down Michael Deveraux. And I would really love to see the scene with the birds in the skies of London. A certain song based on a ballad that we used would be lovely to hear on the soundtrack.
Debbie Viguié: Is it cheating if I say “all of them”? Seriously, from the second book, I’d love to see the scene where Nicole meets up with the Spanish coven in Europe.
Are there any actresses you envision as Holly, Amanda or Nicole?
NH: There have been some great fan YouTubes suggesting various actresses. I loved talking to the casting director(s) at “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” about how the show was cast. So much more goes into it than simply figuring out who would make a great Holly or a wonderful Nicole. The actors have to have chemistry with each other as well. Here are some actresses I would hope could have some sort of role in Wicked: Danielle Panabaker, Emily Browning, Zoe Saldana, Bryce Dallas Howard, Eva Green, Emily Blunt, Evan Rachel Wood, Keira Knightley, Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. I would love it if Adrien Brody could have a part. BTW, Richard Dean Anderson is my guilty pleasure. I usually watch between five and ten episodes of “Stargate SG-1” a week.
DV: “Who would you cast?” is one of the favorite games my husband and I play. I’ve got ideas for several of the older parts, and I also love all the fan suggestions. I’d love to see Molly C. Quinn as either Nicole or Amanda, Jensen Ackles as Eli and Jackie Earle Haley as Uncle Richard.
What project are you working on right now?
NH: I’m so happy that Debbie and I are still working together! We’re just about to turn in Crusade: Converted, the first book in a new series for Simon and Schuster. It’s similiar in style and tone to Wicked, but it concerns a band of vampire hunters based in Salamanca, Spain, after the “Cursed Ones” have declared war on the human race. I’m in love with it.
It’s a fair proposition. Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (reviewed here in BookPage) was born from a popular blog. The blog-turned-book will garner an even bigger audience next week, when the movie Julie & Julia hits theaters.
The distance Powell’s blog has traveled got me thinking . . . is it really possible to turn a daily blog into a full-fledged book?
Research says yes—although success like Powell’s is unlikely. In October, Hachette Book Group will publish Mrs. O: The Face of Fashion Democracy, by Mary Tomer. Tomer—or “Mrs. T,” as she is known online—is the author of “Mrs. O.”, a popular blog that chronicles the fashion of Michelle Obama. A few years ago, The Feminist Press published Baghdad Burning and Baghdad Burning II, both compilations based on Iraqi blogger Riverbend’s site. The first book went on to win third place for the Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage. (Disclosure: I once interned at The FP.) Lighter blogs like Stuff White People Like, This is why you're fat, and Bike Snob NYC, have also landed book deals.
Anyone out there know of other successful blogs-to-books? How about ideas for clever blogs (or blog concepts) that might encourage Random House, Penguin, etc. to come knocking?