Film to book, and all the ways this prolongs the enjoyment of a good story

I could not be more excited by Quentin Tarantino’s first novel, which happens to be a novelization of his excellent Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Novelizations are an interesting concept. Often the screenwriters write the novels after the film is made, though sometimes an independent author is hired and the writing happens simultaneously with the filming. The author gets to imagine the characters before seeing them on screen. This was the case with Alan Dean Foster when he wrote Alien.

Being an avid consumer of both film and books, it took me a long time to realize that not all film and book pairs started out as books first. I might have been in my late teens by the time the strange idea that a movie can spawn a book occurred to me, and that was after I’d been reading novelizations for years!

Some people don’t like to muddy their idea of a story or characters and won’t watch the film versions of favorite novels, but I usually can’t wait. The moment I read something fantastic, I begin to search the internet to see if a movie is in the works, and if a movie that blew my mind turns into a book, I get it and immerse myself in the world all over again.

A novelization offers the opportunity to deepen the characters, show backstory, introduce tertiary characters and give us insight into a character’s soul. More than anything, a novelization well done will improve the experience of the film’s storyline, broaden the world.

Because who needs reality when there’s so many stories all around us, right?

Where do you stand on this issue? Films to book, books to film, yes or no? And if yes, let me know your favorites!

Emilya Naymark

Emilya Naymark is the author of the novels Hide in Place and Behind the Lie.
Her short stories appear in the Bouchercon 2023 Anthology, A Stranger Comes to Town: edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTORY.

When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.

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