Rainbow Rowell, author of Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, discussed fanfiction, her upcoming novel Carry On, and the Eleanor & Park movie with Time.
She fist talks about her upcoming fantasy novel, Carry On, which comes out in October. The novel started out as a fanfiction within Rowell’s other book, Fangirl.
TIME: So what do you call a book like this?
Rainbow Rowell: I think it’s just straight-up fiction. Some people have said, “Oh, you’re writing fanfiction for your own book!” I don’t think it’s fanfiction, I think it’s more like canon! Because even though Simon Snow is fictional inside of Fangirl, I still had to make him up. He still feels like he’s my character.
What’s it like writing your first fantasy novel?
I’ve always read so much fantasy and science fiction, but before Fangirl I didn’t think I could write fantasy. Maybe because I worked at a newspaper for so long, I didn’t feel I could let go like that. When I wrote Fangirl, writing the Simon Snow parts were my favorite parts, and they came really easily. Nobody said, “This fantasy part sucks!” So I thought, “Maybe I could do this.” My brain was ready to go there.
Did Carry On emerge from the leftover Simon Snow segments that went unused in Fangirl?
They didn’t really make it into the book. The Simon Snow I was writing in Fangirl was a different Simon Snow. When I was writing as [fictional Simon Snow author]Gemma T. Leslie, I envisioned this feeling of British children’s literature and had a very traditional middle-grade voice. When I was writing Cath, it was more of what a talented teenage girl writing romantic fantasy would do. Neither of those voices are me. When I started writing my own Simon Snow, it was more what I would do with this character.
I’d imagine that building out a magical world where anything goes would be incredibly fun but also overwhelming.
Anything goes, but you also don’t want your world and your magic to be just like someone else’s. I would think, what sort of magical things are community property, that every fantasy story has? And what is too much like that book I read in sixth grade? I would get stuck and have to remind myself that I don’treally know how the magic works in my favorite fantasy stories. I don’t really know how the Force works, and when George Lucas tried to explain it to me, that was very disappointing. I get really confused if I talk specifically about the magic in Harry Potter orLord of the Rings. I try not to get too bogged down about how it works. It’s magic! There’s no rational explanation to magic! I just tried to be consistent. When it breaks down is when you break your own rules.
How is writing the screenplay forEleanor & Park?
I have finished a first draft, and DreamWorks is talking to a possible director.
Does adapting your own book feel like doing surgery on your own children, as I’ve heard one author describe it?
It felt more like trying to like transmogrify a dog into a cat and keeping it alive. I think it would be easier to adapt someone else’s novel or write a screenplay from scratch. It was difficult, and I’m sure it will continue to change. It’s just like learning how to do it on the job. Eleanor and Park is a tricky book because almost everything happens internally. There’s a lot unsaid. I had to figure out how to show it in the screenplay, but whoever directs the film will ultimately make those decisions. A movie belongs to a director much more to a screenwriter.
Will you be on set and involved in casting in the way John Green is with the movie versions of his books?
That really depends on the movie company and the director and how involved they want me to be. It’s someone else’s party. There are some directors who find the author really helpful, and there are others who are like, “I need to stay fresh and do my own thing.” Which I would understand because the director of the film has a completely different job. So I’m for it, I’d love to be involved. What I want is a director who really can make it happen. I want that more than I want to be involved.
For the full interview click HERE