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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Book to Screen

Book to Screen

I recently had the opportunity to view an almost-final cut of THE SPIRIT GAME, which will soon be making the 2013 film festival rounds. It was a strange and exhilarating experience, to see my characters come to life. I’d say “once in a lifetime,” but my husband would reply, “Of course, it’s not once in a lifetime!” Bob fully expects to see my other books on film, too.

What was it like? First of all, I have to point out that my book, WE HEAR THE DEAD, is a fictional interpretation of the real events surrounding the Fox sisters and the rise of Spiritualism in the 1850s. Consider then that a screenwriter interpreted my book. And a director interpreted the screenplay, and the individual actors interpreted their parts.  The end result may not be exactly what I pictured while writing, but fascinating and beautiful nevertheless. I was a contributor to this project, but only one of many. The story is no longer mine alone.
People have asked me, “How can a movie tell the story of your book in ten minutes?”  Well, of course, it can’t. This is just one episode. People then ask, “Oh, which episode in the book does the movie cover?” And the answer is – none.
The screenwriter had to write a ten minute film that gave a flavor of the whole story. It had to be complete enough to satisfy viewers of the short film and tantalizing enough to interest a studio in funding a feature film or television series.
From start to finish, the film shows the Fox sisters before, during, and after a single séance. It gives a quick portrait of each sister:
  • Leah — hungry for fame and wealth and mastermind of the fraud
  • Maggie — kind-hearted and the peace-keeper among her sisters, but morally conflicted
  • Kate — addicted to laudanum, tormented, and possibly afflicted with a real talent

Kate is probably the farthest removed from the character in my book because the film-makers decided to make her older than the young teen in my novel. But this Kate is a valid interpretation of the real one, who performed as a medium from the age of eleven until her death at fifty-five. She is exactly what my Kate is destined to become, even if she hasn’t reached that point by the time my novel ends.
And the séance participants have their own story, as well – one created by the screenwriter Lesley Krueger – and one totally in line with the time period and the type of clientele the Fox sisters used to service.
I am thrilled and honored to have been a part in this whole process and that my book was the inspiration for it (just as the historic events were inspiration for my book). My fingers are crossed that this leads to bigger things. 

16 Responses to Book to Screen

  1. OMG Dianne, this is really exciting. Beyond cool. So excited for you!

  2. Hey, don’t feel bad Dianne (though I’m sure you don’t). I’ve read Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven and seen the movie, and well, one of these is not like the other. But it will still be good, and I’m betting so will the movie version of your book. 😀

  3. Oh, I don’t feel bad at all. A film is a different art form than a book, and a movie based on a book is absolutely going to take a different approach. I think we might enjoy the movie versions of books more if we understood from the outset that they will be different versions of the same story and not identical at all.

  4. “…my fingers are crossed that it leads to bigger things.”

    Ditto. 🙂

  5. This is truly incredibly exciting!! 🙂

  6. Linda G. says:

    I’m holding my thumbs (the Swedish equivalent of crossing fingers for luck) for you! May the short film lead to even bigger things. So exciting!

  7. mshatch says:

    I think it’s thrilling! Anyway, we all know once your book goes to movie it’s unlikely to be as you envisioned it. Look at LOTR, for example, which took some annoying (and disappointing)liberties. But I still loved it 🙂

  8. Mina Burrows says:

    Diane, this is so spectacular! I’m so happy and excited for you! Awesome job!

  9. Hi Dianne .. I got my copy of We hear the Dead .. so now I can get into your story ..

    Sounds amazing how the process works .. and absolutely I’m sure it’ll be taken up – good luck with the whole ..

    My fingers are cross for you too .. cheers Hilary

  10. The screenwriting process, taking a book from novel to movie is so difficult. I’ve had several meetings with a woman who works with Lionsgate about Losing Beauty. We talked about me writing the screenplay, I started and then realized I had no idea what I was doing. Right now we’ve decided to let me finish the series, so there will be more material, and then hand it over to a professional screenwriter.

  11. Lexa Cain says:

    It sounds like a wonderful film (and book). It must be thrilling to see your characters come to life – and I think it’s very mature to realize this is someone else’s interpretation, and you have to accept it and revel in the overall knowledge: your book’s a MOVIE! Woohoo! 😀

  12. Pk Hrezo says:

    This is so cool. I bet it’s a dreamy feeling. And I agree with your hubby. There is more fantastic to come from you! 🙂

  13. LTM says:

    This is all just really, really cool, Dianne! And I can only imagine it must feel surreal to see your characters “alive” like that.

    Btw, this line is like the best explanation I’ve ever read for why “the movie’s not like the book”: “…a screenwriter interpreted my book. And a director interpreted the screenplay, and the individual actors interpreted their parts.”

    Best of luck as you make the rounds~ <3

  14. Tonja says:

    I agree with your husband – this is just your first. 🙂

  15. This is so beyond cool! Congrats!