BY BRENT HARTINGER
There’s definitely something about having your book turned into a movie.
My friends have all known for years that I make my living as a writer of fiction. But sometimes I think that even they didn’t really take me seriously until the movie deal was announced—especially when the film ended up starring well-known actors like Scott Bakula and Ana Gasteyer.
Then again, the movie experience was enormously validating even for me. The book in question, Geography Club, was first published back in 2003, at a time when people didn’t want to talk about gay teens very much. As a result, it had taken ten years to find a publisher. And while the people at HarperCollins liked it a lot, no one had any big expectations for it at all.
It ended up being a big hit anyway, and then there I was nine years later, on a film set in Los Angeles in a football stadium with a thousand extras. I looked around at all those people—two football teams! a marching band! opposing cheerleaders!—and I thought, “All this for my little book? Now I know how it felt for the Pharaohs to watch them build the pyramids!”
The process of having your book turned into a movie is just as exciting as you’d think—with premieres, and casting announcements, and the aforementioned set visit. And that doesn’t even touch on a wider readership for my books than I’ve ever had before.
But the experience is also more mundane and frustrating than you’d think. The book was first optioned in May of 2003, just weeks after it was released. Who knew it would take so long to get financing, and go through so many different producers along the way?
And now that the movie’s out, everyone has a very definite opinion about it—and everyone assumes I had some control over the finished product (which I didn’t, at all).
All that said, the whole process has still been one of the most interesting of my life. (I have a couple of other film projects in the works now, so I’m hoping I get to go through it all again very soon!)
A lot of writing gurus will tell you that no one will take you seriously as a writer until you take yourself seriously, and that’s definitely true as far as it goes.
But there’s something to be said for external validation too. And take it from me: having your book turned into a movie is just about as validating as it gets.
BRENT HARTINGER is the author of a number of novels, mostly for and about teens, including Geography Club (HarperCollins, 2003) and three sequels: The Order of the Poison Oak (HarperCollins, 2005); Double Feature: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies (HarperCollins, 2007); and The Elephant of Surprise (Buddha Kitty Books, 2013).
His other books include The Last Chance Texaco (HarperCollins, 2004); Grand & Humble (HarperCollins, January 2006); Project Sweet Life (HarperCollins, 2008); and Shadow Walkers (Flux Books, 2011).
Geography Club is currently available for rent or purchase in all video platforms, and available on DVD. Visit the author at brenthartinger.com.