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Tamora Pierce On The Reason Her Brilliant Books Haven’t Been Brought To The Screen (Yet)

It's an actual travesty.


Tamora Pierce has written dozens of incredibly-beloved medieval fantasy books about young women doing amazing things. So why, in this era of wildly-successful YA and fantasy book adaptations, do Pierce’s books remain un-filmed?

Pierce, who says she gets asked this all the time, had the following to say over on her LiveJournal about her characters’ lack of screen time:

My film agent tells me that the largest barrier to my getting a film deal is one of the things my fans like best: the fact that, for 14 of my Tortall books, and 10 of my Circle books, there is a good chance the reader will encounter friends from the earlier books. Readers of the Kel series will encounter characters from the Alanna and Daine books; readers of THE WILL OF THE EMPRESS will encounter characters from The Circle of Magic.

The feeling among moviemakers is that if Company A makes a movie based upon the Alanna books, and Company B makes a movie based on the Kel books, Company B will be profiting from all the work Company A did, for free! (Gasp! Say it’s not so!) The bottom line is that unless I get J.K. Rowling-hot, so that a film company will buy an entire universe, my chances of getting a film deal are Not Good. (My other alternative is to write a stand-alone book in a brand new universe, then not write any more in that universe. Where’s the fun in that?) Of course, Beka’s books may stand a chance, since they don’t have any characters from the other Tortall books except Pounce.

Tragically, I don’t doubt that Pierce’s agent is correct; but that’s why I’ve always thought her books would work better as a TV show, anyways. Game of Thrones gets record ratings, and Reign has a great cult following—what network wouldn’t want to combine the appeal of both into a female-driven series about girls coming into their own strengths and powers? If I ever get any pull in Hollywood (LOL), I swear to God this will be the first thing I make happen.

To her credit, Pierce takes it all incredibly well.

When I’m not writhing with envy, I actually don’t much mind. Unless I get as big as You-Know-Who, the likelihood that I will be given any degree of control or any advisory position on a movie is zilch. Have you ever heard the woefully incorrect joke: “How do you know who’s the stupidest starlet? She’s dating the writer”? (And that’s the writer of the movie writer.) Hollywood filmmakers are notorious for taking books and turning them inside out. Think a moment: “Eragon.” “Ella Enchanted.” “The Dark Is Rising.” “The Golden Compass.” I rest my case.

If I did make a movie deal (I can be had–movie money is VERY good), I would warn my fans not to expect to see my books on the screen. As I said above, Hollywood is notorious for changing the book in their translations. Books take place in the reader’s head. No one will capture what you imagine, which is what I love about books.

If you haven’t read any of Pierce’s books, stop reading this article and immediately go get the first book set in the medieval fantasy world of Tortall, Alanna: The First Adventure. One day I will write a piece about what her books have meant to me and how important they are for young women, but io9 currently has a wonderful primer up on their site. Imagine Game of Thrones, but if there were several different series set in Westeros and they all had amazing female protagonists, including two lady knights, a WOC demigod who can speak with animals, a spy master, and a slum cop. Oh, and she wrote them ten years before Westeros was even a glimmer in GRRM’s eye.

If I’ve sold you on the books (or even if you’re just a die-hard fan like me), Simon & Schuster has just put out a brand-new boxed set of Pierce’s first series, The Lioness Quartet. Every book has a beautiful illustration, and even has a new foreward by Pierce herself! Full disclosure, I was sent one of these in the mail, and it’s incredible. Go grab one for yourself and every YA lover you know for the holidays and get ready for a whole new world of awesome. So mote it be.

(via io9, image via Minuiko)

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Sam Maggs is a writer and televisioner, currently hailing from the Kingdom of the North (Toronto). Her first book, THE FANGIRL'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY will be out soon from Quirk Books. Sam’s parents saw Star Wars: A New Hope 24 times when it first came out, so none of this is really her fault.