Do you want your favorite book made into a television show or a movie?
I thought about this when I went to rasalvatore.com to discuss his latest novel. There is a sticky thread about turning his Drizzt novels into movies, which is something a lot of readers apparently want. I’m not so sure I do. The reason is something Salvatore said when he came to the Mall of America Barnes & Noble in 2008. Once a story is put on screen and you watch it, he said, your imagination can never recover. He used Tolkien as an example. Anyone who watches Peter Jackson’s movies first will never have the experience of imagining Middle Earth for the first time through Tolkien’s writing.
That is exactly what I experienced when I read Lord of the Rings for the first time in 2009. My imagination could only see the characters as they appeared in the movies, and it did feel like I wasn’t getting the full LOTR experience because of it. My mind was also always on alert for any time the book deviated from the movies. I definitely feel like I robbed myself and my imagination. After that I stopped watching the movies every winter in an attempt to clear it from my mind. I’ve since read the book a second time and enjoyed it much more. Hopefully with a few more years’ time I will be able to read it again and get closer to a true imagination experience.
When I take that experience back to Salvatore’s point about his own books, I am not sure I ever want to see an actor cast as Drizzt Do’Urden. I have 23 books in my imagination. Stories, characters and settings all there to be recalled at the drop of a name or a word on a page. No one else pictures Menzoberranzan the same way I do. Isn’t that the magic of reading? Everyone’s experience is different because our imaginations draw words in a different way.
I recently read the book 666 Park Avenue. It, allegedly, sparked the failed television show of the same name but could not have been more divergent from what appeared on screen. Other than the names and being set in New York City, the two had nothing in common. Being so wildly different helped get past having already seen the book on television. I’m not sure if that makes it worth it or not. If your favorite fictional character came to the screen in name only, wouldn’t that still disrupt how you picture it in your own mind?
I don’t think Salvatore fans have to worry. The Drizzt story has grown beyond what a movie can portray. Our imaginations are safe.