Laini Taylor opens up about the Daughter of Smoke and Bone movie, her advice for new writers, and what Hogwarts houses her characters would be sorted into.
We sat down with Taylor during her recent visit to Australia to promote Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the third book in her trilogy, which was released earlier this year. As we had already spoken to Taylor about the final book, we used this opportunity to ask her about some different topics.
Hypable: Can you give us an update on the Daughter of Smoke and Bone movie? There are some new screenwriters attached, who did The Fault in Our Stars?
Laini Taylor: They did a draft, and I have just done another draft after theirs, which the studio has now. So fingers crossed. There’s been difficulties, it’s just really different. It’s interesting for me, having had the opportunity to re-conceive the story, to tell the same story in a different way. There’s so many layers that are too complex exposition to try and put in a movie. If a version of this screenplay does get made, I feel like it’ll still feel like the same story, but there will obviously be a lot of differences, just things that you can’t fit into an hour and a half movie.
Hypable: Can you talk about any of those changes in particular?
LT: No, I better not. I’m not sure what will happen with the script or where it will go from here. It’s just simplification I guess. I don’t think it would feel very different – it was fun, it was fun to do it. I think if I had tried to do it two years ago it would have been harder. The more I see the process of adaptation, the more I’m able to see the film as its own thing, and what to take from the book to create something new, versus trying to jam the whole book into the film.
Hypable: Thinking more as an author than a screenwriter then, what is the one thing a film would have to do for you to be happy with it?
LT: I don’t know, it’s all so new to me. I know it will be visually beautiful. I just hope that the emotional arc will be preserved, that’s the main thing. You can take a lot of liberties with the story as long as that core emotional arc is intact.
Hypable: You were attached to executive produce, is that still happening?
LT: Yes. Well, I don’t know what that really means.
Hypable: It seems to depend on the person.
Hypable: Is there anything in particular that you are interested in being involved with?
LT: I don’t know. As far as the story, that is something I have something to contribute to, but when they get into the real film making, casting, and all of that, I won’t be heavily involved in that. That will be up to the director and the producer and the studio.
Hypable: And there’s a trend for YA authors to make a cameo in their films. Can we expect one from you?
LT: Yeah, I did see Veronica Roth in Divergent.
Hypable: And Cassandra Clare did one..
LT: Did she?
Hypable: Yeah, in one of the party scenes.
LT: Oh, I didn’t catch her!
Hypable: And there was a Twilight one as well.
LT: I certainly wouldn’t be against it. Somebody had mentioned at one point that Clementine, my daughter, could be a baby chimaera, and she is really keen on that idea so I would rather have her do a cameo than me.
Hypable: The third book in the trilogy left the world open for there to be more story. Is that something you are thinking about?
LT: Yeah, you know, I knew when I set out to write Dreams of Gods and Monsters where I wanted to take Karou and Akiva, and how I wanted to leave them. But as far as what would be going on in the overall story, I knew I wanted it to be bigger than just Jael, and I didn’t know exactly what that would be. But it all came about in the course of writing the book, and it ended up leaving a big open door for more story.
I certainly can see writing that book, but I’m not sure when. It would need to grow in my mind for a little while. And there’s a lot of other little stories and side stories, there’s a million stories that could be told in that world and I imagine I will go back to it at some point.
Hypable: So you need some time away?
LT: I do need time away. But my next couple of books will definitely – at least two, probably three books – will be unrelated. But it’s possible.
Hypable: You mentioned the emotional arc of the story, and what I liked so much about Daughter of Smoke and Bone was this idea of Romeo and Juliet and the “what if”. Are there any other similar stories you have your eye on?
LT: Yes. But I can’t say what they are! My husband [illustrator Jim Di Bartolo] and I are working – well, I wrote an issue of a comic book that’s an adaptation of a story that we both really like. It would be an ongoing comic book series and he’s sort of playing with the art in the midst of doing other projects that he is working on. Hopefully we’ll get to do that.
And even after that, most of the adaptations I have in my mind would be for comic books, which would be really fun for me to do that on the side. So yes, I have a few things. One is another Shakespeare, but I won’t say which, and the other is unrelated to Shakespeare.
Hypable: That’s keeping it broad. In terms of a graphic novel for this series, would you consider doing that together? Is that a little too close to home?
LT: I would love if there was a graphic novel, or a comic, or a manga adaptation, but I don’t think Jim would do it. He is more interested in doing original properties, but I would love it if we could freeze time and he could do it. I do hope that happens, it would be really fun.