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The agony of seeing a novel become a film

Posted at 5:58 PM on February 6, 2008 by Euan Kerr

Charles Baxter says he'll think very carefully about whether he'll sell the movie rights to his novels in the future.

His National Book Award nominated novel "The Feast of Love" was recently released as a movie. The book sold over 200,000 copies.

The film was a flop.

Baxter says he found the process of seeing the film develop very difficult.

"It's like watching your child walk out into the street and start to play in traffic. That's what it's like" he says. "In fact, it's hard to come up with similes or metaphors because it is so difficult to describe what this experience puts you through."

"Most of the time people who are in my position either choose not to sell the rights to their book and not make the considerable amounts of money that are possible if you do sell, or you sell the rights and say 'That's it, I have to practice kind of Zen detachment about everything that happens from now on.' And essentially that's what I did," he says.

He says he realized very quickly that once he'd sold the rights, the film company wasn't going to ask for his advice. He says that while the script was better than the other adaptations he had seen of his book, there were still problems with it, and when he contacted the screenwriter to ask if he wanted any suggestions, his offer was politely refused.

And when the film finally came out what did he think?

"Well, it's ungallant to say anything critical about it, so I won't," he says. "It just wasn't quite what I had imagined."

You can hear the interview on Morning Edition tomorrow.

February 2008
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