Festival of Books: Film inspired authors, whose books then became films

Author Janet Fitch says, 'I just wanted to live in books and in movies' before she learned to tell stories

For Ransom Riggs, Janet Fitch and Don Winslow, things have a way of coming full circle.

These three authors, participants in the "Page to Screen" panel Saturday at the Festival of Books, each have a book being made into a film.

Ironically, they say it was film that first inspired them to become storytellers.

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Fitch’s inspiration came from seeing Tennessee Williams' famous plays as movies, she said. Though she went to film school -- for a semester -- she realized filmmaking wasn’t for her because "no one wants a 138-page screenplay," she said. But she never planned on writing.

"I just wanted to live in books and in movies," she said.

Years later, her "White Oleander" (2002) was turned into a film starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Her latest, "Paint it Black," is in the editing phase of the film process. 

Riggs, author of "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," remembers watching "The Shining" (1980) in eighth grade. The film made him want to become a filmmaker, but after graduating from USC’s film school, he found writing to be the thing that allowed him to create stories.

The rights to Riggs’ book has been was purchased by 20th Century Fox and is being directed by Tim Burton.

As for Winslow, "The French Connection" (1971) was the film that broadened his imagination about storytelling. But he did not try film school.

"I'm probably the only person in the history of the University of Nebraska to fail photography twice, so I shouldn’t be around any type of camera," he joked.

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As for having their books adapted to screenplays, considering the different media, the task is a separate beast altogether, Winslow said.

"They are two different breeds of cat," he said. "It’s like siblings, they each have their own lives."

Fitch prefers seeing someone else do the adaptation.

"The elegance of a really good screenplay, I admire it," she said. "I can’t do it."

As for Riggs: "That’s like surgeons doing surgery on the ones they love. I think that would be a bad idea."

Check out the Festival of Books schedule for this weekend.

MORE FROM THE FESTIVAL OF BOOKS:

Maria Bello talks about 'Love Is Love'

Dav Pilkey's 'Captain Underpants' will be made into a movie

Festival of Books: Rocker (and memoirist) Billy Idol pumps up the crowd

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