Guillermo del Toro won praise, acclaim, and Oscars for The Shape of Water last year. He created a cult classic with Hellboy. He amazed audiences with Pacific Rim. However, his most legendary film is still Pan’s Labyrinth, which is now getting a novel-length expansion.
Image via Amazon
Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun is written by del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke (Inkheart), and is illustrated by Allen Williams. It tells the story of a long-lost princess hoping to reunite with her family, and includes haunting illustrations and enchanting short stories that expand upon the film’s world and folklore.
Image via Amazon
In spite of also including murderous soldiers, child-eating monsters, and warring rebels, the dark fantasy novel is meant for readers of all ages. This is actually a little bit strange, given how frightening and violent (yet beautiful) the original film was. Remember that one tortured guy’s bloody messed up hand? I still do.
However, no one can argue with the richness of del Toro’s fairytale-like storytelling and worldbuilding. Fewer films deserve a book continuation and expansion more than Pan’s Labyrinth.
AMC’s adaptation of Deborah Harkness’ bestseller A Discovery of Witches, the first in the All Souls Trilogy, has been gaining critical acclaim since it aired on AMC on April 7th, and currently holds at 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The show, which follows Diana Bishop, a reluctant witch who discovers a bewitched manuscript which throws her into the world of magic, and compelling her to form a forbidden alliance with a vampire…
We were lucky enough to catch up with author Deborah Harkness to get her thoughts on the show, on writing, and on what’s happening with her wine blog…
The first book in your All Souls Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches, has been adapted for TV and brought to AMC and BBC AMERICA in the US. How has the process been for you? Were you involved?
Yes, I was involved. I’m an executive producer on the project and I also wrote the initial series document or “bible” for the show. It’s been exciting to be part of a collaborative creative project. I try to approach each day as a learning experience. There’s so much to discover and all kinds of new challenges to explore.
What has been the most exciting thing to come of the adaptation?
For me personally, it has been most exciting to see the characters come to life on screen.
It is also wonderful to have a whole new audience come to the stories through the television adaptation, and then to follow them as they find the books and the energized fan community that has sprung up around them.
Was a possible adaptation on your mind when writing the book?
No, not at all. I thought it was a long shot the books would even be published so I was just focused on telling the story. I’ve been told I have a cinematic imagination, which I think is a fancy way of saying that I see the story in my head and try to capture what I see in words on the page.
Have you always been interested in the supernatural?
I’m not sure what you mean by supernatural. I am interested in how hard it has been, historically, for humans to figure out their place in the world and how to thrive in it. One of the techniques that they use to cope is to imagine a world outside of the one they occupy and to invest that world with all sorts of powerful beings. In my stories there is only one supernatural element—magic. Similarly, there is only one creature with supernatural abilities: the witch. The rest are preternatural. So by that standard, I guess I’m less interested in the supernatural than many other people!
You’ve said the success of novels like Twilight got you thinking about what it is that has always fascinated humans about the supernatural. Can you talk a little bit about what inspired you to try your hand at fiction, after publishing several non-fiction titles?
I found the modern interest in the supernatural puzzling, and wanted to be able to figure out how that could be sustained given that our scientific worldview doesn’t seem to support the existence of a world outside our own. So I started imagining – what if magic could be part of the modern worldview? What would that look like? How would someone with supernatural power fit in? It started out as an intellectual mystery to be solved, but as it progressed, my “what ifs” got more detailed and I realized I was writing a novel. It wasn’t planned or inspired in a traditional way.
Would you return to non-fiction, or is fiction the way forward for you now?
Sure. I wrote two non-fiction books and many non-fiction articles. I was also a wine journalist. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that my “way forward” has lots of twists and turns in it.
What is your writing routine like? Does it differ between fictional and non-fictional works?
I don’t have a writing routine. For me, a writing routine is something that gets in the way of actually writing. So many steps. So many rules. I used to feel a bit bad about that, and tried to distill a list of “a perfect day”. Even I found it intimidating. Writing is, and has been since 1982 when I went to college, part of my daily life. I do it as often as I can in a day, wherever I am, however it happens. I’ve written in my home office, my campus office, on airplanes, in trains, on napkins waiting at the drive-thru, and in cafés. You have to take the time when you can. And it’s no different whether I have an article due, a lecture to give, or a chapter of a novel that I’m trying to finish.
As well as your amazing writing career, you also have an award winning wine blog! Could you tell us a little about this? Is it important to you to have hobbies outside of writing?
I haven’t had much time to blog since I started writing fiction, so sadly my wine blog is on indefinite hiatus. Like all of my writing, it started out with me trying to solve a problem (namely, how to set up a blog for work more than a decade ago when there were very few of them). I had just come back from wine shopping, wrote about that, and then wrote about drinking the wine I bought over the next few weeks. Pretty soon, I had a wine blog. As for hobbies, I think it’s important to have a LIFE outside of writing. If not, what on earth are you going to write about? It’s pretty easy to see how my love of wine influenced the All Souls books, in all sorts of ways.
Can you tell us some of the books and authors who have inspired you?
I am mostly a non-fiction reader. My most important years as a reader of fiction were from the ages of five to thirty. During that time I devoured books, mostly biographies and novels. Clearly, I was most interested in people and their lives. I loved the Nancy Drew mysteries, and historical fiction (before I became a historian) most notably the works of Dorothy Dunnett, and the novels of Anne Rice. The only book I have ever stayed up all night to read was Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. One of the last novels I remember making a huge impact on me was A. S. Byatt’s Possession. I was a graduate student, and the ethical and scholarly dilemmas in the book were a perfect companion to finishing my PhD.
“Dear Sir. I venture to submit to your notice the accompanying tale ‘The actor’s duel’. I once before trespassed upon your valuable time by sending up a sketch which did not come up to your standard – I trust that this may meet with a better fate. However defective the working out maybe I am conscious that the denouement is both original and powerful, worthy, I hope, of the traditions of your magazine.”
The above excerpt is taken from a letter written by Sherlock Holmes creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The British writer would have turned 160 years old this past week (May 22). On Wednesday, The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh shared a picture of the letter on their Twitter account while appropriately hashtagging #SherlockHolmesday. Doyles’ words are indicative of a crucial period in the life of all creatives—a time when one is starving for success.
137 years ago, before knighthood, Arthur Conan Doyle found himself at the ripe age of twenty-two, (tactfully) pleading for publication. Like all young writers, Doyle was equipped only with a vague understanding of what he wanted to say to the world—it was just a matter of finding the right words. Regardless, his letter conveys obvious confidence in his ability to wow.
The “original” and “powerful” denouement Doyle refers to is the climax of his short story—after having stopped the abduction of his sister, a young actor (who had just won the role of Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet) finds out that one of the kidnappers is a colleague of his, a fellow actor playing Hamlet in the same play. In their next performance, the two use real swords in a duel, which grants the production a realness that the audience uproariously applauds. The crowd is unaware the two are actually fighting to the death. The duel plays out in a very art-imitating-life/Aronofsky-Black-Swan-esque way that makes the reader question the integrity of artistic perception.
According to an article on edinburghlive‘s website, Doyle asked Blackwood’s Magazine to consider his short story, then entitled “The Actor’s Duel.” At the beginning of the letter, Doyle reveals the publication had previously rejected another one of his short stories, “The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe.” Despite his best efforts, Blackwood’s turned Doyle down again (idiots); however, “The Actor’s Duel” was eventually published two years later as “The Tragedians” in Bow Bells Magazine.
In 1887, A Study in Scarlett was published—the first of many stories concerning the adventures of detective Holmes and Dr. Watson. In addition to tales surrounding the famous detective, Doyle also wrote many science fiction and historical and novels, plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction, yadda, and yadda. The writer was prolific and will go down in history as the man who made Benedict Cumberbatch what he is today… whatever that is, exactly.
Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t start writing until she was forty-three, and she wasn’t published until sixty-five—two full decades later. Harry Bernstein didn’t get published until he was ninety-six. Susan Boyle didn’t “dream the dream” until she was forty-seven, and Colonel Harland Sanders didn’t franchise his fried chicken business until well past forty. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s successes may not have come as late in life as those of the other icons mentioned, but this letter is an important reminder: (Yoda voice) the greatest teacher, failure is.
It’s no secret that many people were annoyed by Game of Thrones‘ final season, and if you weren’t one of them, you’re probably pretty damn annoyed by hearing about it. But HBO doesn’t care what you think—not in a defiant, sexy maverick sort of way. HBO doesn’t need to care what you think because, if you watched the episode and subscribed to the network, you helped generate the billion-dollar machine that is HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones effect.’ Unsurprisingly, the show has made HBO hi$$$tory across the board: this past Sunday, the finale garnered 19.3 million total views. Those are the highest ratings not just for the fantasy juggernaut, but also for all HBO shows. Over the last decade, the show has won the network 50 million subscribers, which is no joke.
This, of course, is the joke:
Image Via Twitter
Google searches for ‘how to cancel HBO‘ spiked directly after the sixth episode’s ending. The only previous comparable spike in cancellations occurred directly after the seventh season, but the current looming threat of mass cancellation is still greater by far. Take a look, and imagine that you’ve got a job at HBO. Feel the existential terror? Unlike the rest of our general existential dread, theirs probably won’t be cured by memes—at least, not if the memes are about unsubscribing from HBO.
Image Via Google Trends
The pressure to keep the machine in operation is immense, hence the network’s desire to promote its spin-offs this early on. We know that four are potentially in development. We also know that there are currently only details on one: a yet-untitled prequel set in the “mythic ‘Age of Heroes,'” produced by Jane Goldberg and George R.R. Martin himself. S.J. Clarkson of Marvel’s Jessica Jones is set to direct. But there’s been heavy speculation about what the other spinoffs could be. Given fan-favorite Arya Stark’s relatively open ending (“what’s west of Westeros?”), many have speculated that we could see more of our favorite little stabby baby—especially since she didn’t do any face-swapping this season.
Honestly, imagine the possibilities. Pirate Arya? Badass female pirate captain Arya??? Okay, so it’s one possibility, but with an ever-increasing number of question marks. Badass, unstoppable pirate captain Arya stealing from her enemies and stealing all of our hearts???
Image Via Thrillist
Dead-set on killing our dreams, HBO programming president Casey Bloys definitively shut us down:
Nope, nope, nope. No. Part of it is, I do want this show — this Game of Thrones, Dan and David’s show — to be its own thing. I don’t want to take characters from this world that they did beautifully and put them off into another world with someone else creating it. I want to let it be the artistic piece they’ve got. That’s one of the reasons why I’m not trying to do the same show over. George has a massive, massive world; there are so many ways in. That’s why we’re trying to do things that feel distinct — and to not try and redo the same show. That’s probably one of the reasons why, right now, a sequel or picking up any of the other characters doesn’t make sense for us.
Okay, so it’s true that we’d hate to see Arya’s character transform in a way that we don’t understand. With a different showrunner, Arya’s characterization may feel inconsistent. While some fans would be all on board (that is, aboard Arya’s PIRATE SHIP), others would certainly be disappointed—and, presumably, be pretty vocal about their disappointment. But there’s one thing we can all (mostly) agree on: we’ve got high hopes & dubious expectations.
Ser Jorah was lucky. He didn’t live long enough to see what became of his beloved Daenerys. He almost did though.
Image via TVLine
According to EW, GoT writer Dave Hill confirmed that the noble knight was originally supposed to make it all the way to the end of the series. When the writers began plotting season 8, they hoped to have Ser Jorah accompanying Jon Snow beyond The Wall in the final scene.
For a long time we wanted Ser Jorah to be there at The Wall in the end. The three coming out of the tunnel would be Jon and Jorah and Tormund. But the amount of logic we’d have to bend to get Jorah up to The Wall and get him to leave Dany’s side right before [the events in the finale] … there’s no way to do that blithely. And Jorah should have the noble death he craves defending the woman he loves.
Ser Jorah’s reaction to the scorching of King’s Landing would definitely have been interesting to see. Admittedly though, Hill is right about the difficulties of cramming Jorah’s hypothetical back-turn on Daenerys in an already dense finale.
Image via Hello Magazine
Ser Jorah actor Iain Glen agreed that it was better that his character did not live to see the tragic fall of his Queen, or the results of her massacre…
“There’s a sweetness in that because Jorah will never know what she did,” Glen says. “That’s probably best. It’s a blessing for him that he never found out what happened to her.”
Since Glen will be playing Batman on Titans, the Dark Knight line, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” seems pretty relevant, and appropriate.