Adaptations that Work, and the Work of Adaptations

Suzy and I just finished watching The Hunger Games on Netflix, and it got me to thinking about adapting work from one form to another, and when things make the transition successfully, and when they don’t, and what the purpose of an adaptation is, and all that jazz.

Of course, “All that Jazz” is from the musical Chicago, which is a brilliant movie, which was based on a play, which was based on a non-musical play, which was based on the real-life criminals that a 1920s reporter encountered in her work. Sorry, my Theatre degree is showing.

For some of us, the adaptation is the Holy Grail (not Monty Python’s Holy Grail, or Spamalot, to mention a couple of other adaptations), and for some of us one type of adaptation or another is just another piece of the puzzle. Obviously, a major motion picture adaptation means a huge […]

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Anxious about the Hobbit.

In a couple of weeks the new Hobbit movie will open worldwide, and I have to say, I’m anxious. It’s not the kind of thrilled anticipation I felt over the release of the first Lord of the Rings movie (the making of which I had monitored closely for months). That was sheer excitement, this is something closer to simple worry, with a little skeptical bafflement thrown in.

Let me begin with two disclaimers before the goblin hordes start pelting me with angry e-comments:

1. I loved the LOTR movies; I thought they were wonderful imaginings of the novel and remember emerging from the first one ready to line back up to watch it all over again. I was speechless, and felt the kind of deep satisfaction I rarely feel after movies, the kind that makes you want to immerse yourself in the world of the film and live in it. […]

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When art imitates art.

As many of you know, earlier this year I published a novel based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, co-authored with David Hewson. The story was originally released as an audiobook voiced by Alan Cumming and saw print in May. On Friday, November 2nd, David and I will be participating in an event at UNC Charlotte which will feature a staged reading of portions of the book followed by a conversation about collaboration and adaptation. It’s free and open to the public, so if you are in town, you should come by.

What this means is that I am currently taking portions of what was once a play but became a novel and turning it back into something like a play, only a very different one. I’m not sure of the format of the event itself yet, but a staged reading is a kind of halfway house, a hybrid of narrative and […]

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Writing Location: The Macbeth Project

Today it’s my pleasure to introduce my friend and co-writer of the Macbeth, A Novel, audio book which comes out from Audible on Tuesday of next week. David Hewson is the award winning and bestselling author of 16 books, and is best known for his Nic Costa detective series set in present day Rome., the most recent of which, Fallen Angel, is currently getting rave reviews in minor local papers like the New York Times and Washington Post. He has a special gift for today’s topic which we is evident in ourShakespeare adaptation, an extract of which you can hear for free here.

Please welcome, David Hewson.


Real estate agents in England (and perhaps elsewhere) have a saying. The value of a property is down to three things. Location, location and location. Books are more complex than houses, but they share a little of that quality too. As a […]

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Making thrillers out of classics: adapting Shakespeare’s Macbeth

This morning I announced on my website that at the end of the month Audible will releasing a novelization of Shakespeare’s Macbeth written by me and David Hewson, and performed for audio by the inestimable Alan Cumming. Macbeth, A Novel, has proved itself an exciting project for lots of reasons and in my next few posts I want to single out features of the process for discussion from the writer’s perspective.

I want to start with the question that will already be in some people’s minds: why do this at all?

Shakespeare is generally recognized to be the word smith par excellence, a master story teller, the king of character, and a bastion of both the theatre and education. Surely, wading into those particular waters is just asking for trouble?

As a Shakespeare professor, no one feels these things more than I do. I love Shakespeare’s words and am deeply […]

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