International best-selling author Gayle Forman speaks exclusively to Hypable about the If I Stay movie, her new upcoming Just One Year, and the recent controversy she kicked up at the Reading Matters YA conference. The Reading Matters conference was held in Melbourne, Australia, and Forman attended as a guest author along with Libba Bray, Morris Gleitzman, and many others.
‘If I Stay’ movie
The If I Stay movie has been in the news lately, as rumours circulate about who the film’s leading lady could be. While no official casting announcement has been made, Forman recently hinted that the rumours surrounding Kick-Ass star Chloe Moretz could be on the money.
As to the film itself, Forman says of director RJ Cutler (The September Issue, Nashville), “When I heard his vision, I just thought yes, he is the right one.” The screenplay was written by Shauna Cross (Whip It), and Forman assures us that “it retains the absolute essence of the book.”
Given her positive appraisal of Cross’ screenplay, it is perhaps unsurprising that Forman is quick to dismiss any notions that she planned to pull a Stephen Chbosky, and write the screenplay herself. “I don’t know that I would ever want to write a screenplay, but I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to write the screenplay for If I Stay,” she says, citing the complex structure and the very personal nature of the book.
While she was in Melbourne for the Reading Matters conference, Forman met with If I Stay fan and musician Katie Hardyman. Hardyman contacted Forman following the release of If I Stay, seeking her permission to write a song based on it. Now the song has been recorded, and released on an album. Listen below if you have read the book:
Just One Year is Forman’s upcoming novel, and is a companion to Just One Day, which was published earlier this year. The novels overlap as they tell the story of Allyson and Willem from their separate points of view.
Forman found this to be “a real challenge, because I had to figure out the bulk of Willem’s story and his character as I was writing Just One Day,” which is told from Allyson’s perspective.
And while fans may be desperately holding their breath for another If I Stay novel, or hoping that Just One Day will become a trilogy, it seems that they will have no such luck.
While Forman is “deeply flattered” by fan requests for more books, she explains that regarding If I Stay, “I have left the characters where I think they need to be, they don’t need me anymore.”
Reading Matters: Gender in YA controversy
As we reported earlier this week, Forman caused some controversy at the Reading Matters conference in Melbourne when she questioned how popular the Harry Potter series would habe been if it had been focused on a female protagonist.
Speaking to Hypable, Forman clarifies. “Imagine if Harry was Harriet. I just wonder, would boy readers have gone to it in such droves? And would she have been encouraged to use her own name? I just think decisions would be made differently.”
One of the main criticisms of Forman’s Potter analysis has been built around the Hunger Games example. “There are exceptions,” Forman agrees, “but look at how Hunger Games was packaged. It was very specifically packaged in a gender-neutral way.”
A panel discussing the nature of gender divides in Young Adult fiction is what sparked the initial controversy. Like many of the authors speaking at Reading Matters, Forman does not claim to have the answers. Instead, what she encourages is the conversation. “I just think we need to start looking at what barriers we put up for boys’ and girls’ reading, right across the experience.”