Question of the day: Why didn't you try to be the screenwriter for Time of My Life? Do you care that someone else is writing it?
I get asked this question a lot, and to begin with, I didn't even entertain the idea of adapting TOML. For a few reasons: 1) I had no idea how to write a screenplay. I'm sure I could have learned, but at the time, it felt like selling the book was enough. 2) The various producers who were looking into acquiring the project weren't interested in using me, or so I assume. Producers like to vet their own "talent," work with people who have reputations or experience they're aware of, and I totally respect and understand that. And 3) the stakes were just too high. Selling this project and getting it made mattered to me personally but also, let's be honest, mattered (and matters) to my career. I didn't want to mess around by either not landing the producers we wanted or producing a screenplay that wasn't up to par. It was just too important that everything came together seamlessly, more important (to me) than writing the script.
So I guess, to answer the latter question, I don't care AT ALL that someone else is drafting it. To begin with, I totally trust the producers - I met with them several times, and my vision is very cohesive with their vision. But, that said, even if it weren't, it's a win for me to get this made, period. Even if the movie were total crap (which I don't expect it to be), that's no reflection on the original book. The book stands as it is. THAT was my work. The rest is gravy. A bad movie still sells more copies, a bad movie still raises awareness of the book. Beyond that...I don't feel any real ownership. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love this book, and I love the characters, but whether or not they're perfectly translated on screen...well, I have other things to worry about. (Really, I do!) I mean, sure, are there some actors who I might not want playing these roles? Well, yeah! But the fact that ANY actors are playing them is enough for me.
For the next book, if we're lucky enough to sell it, yeah, I might be interested in tackling that script. But I'm at a different point in my career than I was when we sold TOML, and I feel more confident with that challenge. And if they opt for someone else? That will likely be okay with me too. The good news is, is that by then, I'll hopefully have moved on to my next book, and with that one, there's always more possibility for another movie and another challenge and another option to write a screenplay...not to mention new characters who promptly make me forget the old ones.
Would you guys be okay letting your work fall into someone else's hands or do you think you'd be concerned over the implications?