Our very own reviewers, Jill Arent and Jennifer Jensen, had the opportunity to chat with the author, David Nicholls. Read on for Jill’s thoughts on the chat.
On Spending “One Day” (Part of One, Anyway) with David Nicholls, by Jill Arent
Some days this whole writer/book blogger gig is simply too fun – and yesterday was one of those days. Thanks to the fabulous connections (and reputation) of LuxuryReading.com, I was fortunate enough to spend an hour on the telephone with David Nicholls, author of last year’s rather-big-commercial-deal love story One Day. The book has been developed into a film – opening August 19 – screen-written by David, and the call gave ten lucky book bloggers the opportunity to discuss reading, writing, movies, and the story with the author.
Please be warned – there is a SPOILER near the end. I will give due warning, promise.
For those of you who haven’t yet read the book, let me give you the briefest of summaries: Emma and Dexter meet on July 15, the eve of their graduation from university. The book follows these two polar opposites throughout the course of their lives, checking in with them each July 15 as the years pass between 1988 and 2007.
We were each allowed to ask David two questions. My second question contains the spoiler, so if you don’t want to view that, skip the next paragraph.
My first question had to do with the translation of a 400-page story, heavy on introspection and sneak-peeks intocharacters’ heads, into a two-hour film. Ever been to a movie where you’ve read the book but someone you’re with has not, and you walk out of the theater claiming it was the best movie EVER and they walk out going “huh?” because they didn’t have the back-story or context that you got from the book? If so then you get my question – Iwas asking how an author makes sure that enough of the behind-the-scenes motivation translates onto the screen. In a very brief nutshell, he said the key with this film was that both he and the production team wanted to be faithful to the book. As a result, there weren’t too many major battles about what to include or how to handle it because the book drove the screenplay.
My second question addressed David’s novel-writing process. He told us from the outset that he wrote One Day knowing how it would end – the entire novel was written to support the death of Emma. I asked him whether this was his typical writing style and whether he ever struggled with the story as a result of knowing how things were “supposed” to end. David said that he has often heard novelists talk about characters taking over the story, but that this had never happened for him. He always knows how things will end, and his characters behave accordingly. David believed this was due to his origins in television writing, where writers are instructed from day one to not even begin writing a script until they know exactly how the story will proceed, scene by scene. David said he occasionally wished he could be more spontaneous or improvisatory with his writing, but that he was too structured and precise to take that approach.
All in all, I found David to be well-spoken and engaging, and more than willing to share a lot of insights into his writing process and into that of screenplay writing/adaptation. He is, by his own admission, more Emma than Dex – and that was perfectly all right with me, because I quite liked Emma. She tells a great story – just like David.
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