Andrew Klavan: Writing Fast-Paced Thrillers for a New Audience
- Wednesday, April 29, 2009
And the other one again is that when everything you’ve been told is stripped away, how do you know what you believe? How do you know your faith is right? How do you know which way the light is? And that’s the kind of things that Charlie is looking for.
Will we see more of Charlie and his exploration of these themes in the future and do you envision more books in The Homelanders series?
We started out with a plan of four, but I’m starting to think it’s going to go a little longer than that. It won’t go on forever. I kind of don’t like these series that go on for 60 books. So I’m thinking that five will be about the right number.
Can you give us a sneak peek of book two?
Yes. In book two, Charlie returns home, because he’s looking for information to prove his innocence. So he finds that he’s going back into the place he misses most and a place that he can’t really recover right away. And so it’s a poignant story.
Since you’ve adapted some of your other novels for the big screen, are there any plans to adapt The Last Thing I Remember as well?
You know, I’m hoping it will. I never write a book thinking about the movie. I think it ruins the book. So I always write a book purely for its own sake and to tell out the story there. Having said that, there’s been some preliminary interest. And I hope it comes through. It would be great. To me, having had the experience of having books turned into movies, well … I still just love the book. And the book always remains the primary thing for me.
How is it different writing a screenplay than a book?
It’s the difference between being a carpenter and being an architect. When you write a book, you are creating an entire world. You sit down in the morning and describe a guy walking across the room. And it can take your entire morning because you’re creating the room, you’re creating the guy and the thoughts that go through his mind. You’re creating an entire experience. In a screenplay, you sit down and you write: “He walks across the room.” And you’re done. And the reason for that is because actors and directors, lighting guys and design guys are all going to come along and flesh that experience out and bring it to life.
The first time I wrote a screenplay was for a film called A Shock to the System with Michael Caine. And I labored over this character as if I were writing a novel, creating his internal life and his past and all this stuff. And then when I saw Michael Caine walk on-screen I thought, Why did I bother? It’s Michael Caine, you know? And he’s going to take care of that.
I won’t say it’s easier to write a screenplay, but it’s more of a craft for me. Once you’ve got the structure, you’ve got it. Whereas writing novels is more of an art, because it’s coming down out of every part of yourself.
Tell me about your career path. How did you get from Point A to writing novels to then writing screenplays for film?
All I ever wanted to be was a novelist. From the minute I stopped wanting to be a cowboy, I basically wanted to be a novelist. And at some point I wrote a book called The Scarred Man that sold to the movies. And somebody called me up—a producer called me up. She said, “I read your book, and I know that you’d write a good screenplay. And I will pay you to write a screenplay for me.” Which is basically like being hit by lightning. It almost never happens. I was so intensely committed to writing novels, I just kind of shrugged and didn’t want to do that. And this woman almost fell out of her chair. But she asked me if there was any book that I would adapt or any story I wanted to tell. I finally said I would adapt this novel, A Shock to the System. So she bought the book and hired me to do it. I was kind of dragged into writing for movies. And I have to say, it’s still writing novels that I love. It’s still my main focus in life. But it’s nice to occasionally write movies, because you write them with other people. You come out, you argue with producers, you argue with directors and it’s more of a communal experience—whereas writing novels can get to be a very lonely life. So I like it, and I appreciate it. And like everybody else, I enjoy going to the movies. But I’m a book guy, really—start to finish.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished the second book with Charlie in The Homelanders series. Just handed that in, so I’m very happy about that. And I’m also writing another thriller for adults which I’m just coming out of the final draft on that.
**This interview first published on April 29, 2009.
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