Thrillers: Books vs film
I’m a huge thriller fan, whether it be books or film, and it’s probably no surprise therefore that so many of my readers have commented how they think the Enemy Series would translate so naturally onto the big screen (any Hollywood producers reading this, just give me a call). So which is best and why?
I’m not sure I have an answer to that. I love both books and films for different reasons. Books are special to so many people. With a book you transport yourself into your own world. Ok, so it’s the writer’s words you’re reading, it’s his or her characters, but those characters come to life for each and every reader and they do so in a different way. The way every reader feels about the book and the characters, how they see the setting in their heads, how they view the characters and the emotions the characters feel, is an entirely personal experience. That’s what makes a book so powerful. And as a writer, the part that I get real satisfaction from is really exploring the psyche of my characters. I like getting into their heads and drilling down to the very core of who they are. On screen, and in writing a screenplay, you just can’t get to that same depth because such a large part of the unspoken elements of the plot are purely visual.
That said, on the flip side, it’s the visual potency of films which I love. In many ways they can be a lazy alternative to books, and films definitely engage the brain in a different way than books do. But I still love them. I love the sweeping visuals that you can get, and the painstaking and gritty detail that we get to see in action scenes which has so many more levels to it than you could ever write down on a page. And films can be incredibly emotional too. We don’t get to be inside the characters’ heads in the same way as in a book - as there simply isn’t the inner narrative - but when you get a top-notch script and top-notch actors in place, there’s no doubting that you can feel a wide range of emotions watching a good film. And we feel great connections to actors and actresses because of this. It’s why they are such big A-list celebrities.
As for my own books, in many ways I think they are perhaps something of a hybrid between traditional book and film. I love both formats and have been influenced greatly by both and even though the books I’ve written are very definitely novels and not screenplays, in my head they play out more like a movie, with a big emphasis on visuals. My writing evolved in many respects as a collection of scenes, much like you’d get in a screenplay. I think that’s just the way the plots are formed in my head and the way that I translate them onto the page. I think of a scene, I flesh out the scene as much as I can in my mind, and then I write it out.
So which is best: book or film? Well, the jury is still out as far as I’m concerned. But it’s on my to-do list to re-write each of the books of the Enemy series into screenplays. I think they’d all work in that format and I’m excited to see how they look and feel. And maybe one day, when the big screen version of the Enemy series hits your local cinema, you can come and tell me which version you liked best.
This post was originally conceived for Life of Crime blog as part of the Rise of the Enemy blog tour. Original post here.