Ep23 Literary Adaptation Words To That Effect

Ep 23: Adaptation (How does a book become a film?)

Ep23 Literary Adaptation Words To That Effect

Literary Adaptation

The book is always better than the film.

Or so they say.

But there are obviously quite a few problems with this, as there tends to be with any sweeping generalisation. For some, the book is always better than the film, because books are just better than films, which is something I would mostly agree with. Fiction creates and draws us into a world entirely inside our own imagination. At its best, fiction is far more immersive and engaging than a film can ever be.


But, of course, there are plenty of truly fantastic films adapted from utterly mediocre books. And yet it’s not a competition, even if it can sometimes seem that way. Literature and film are two completely different forms of creative expression, two wholly different ways of telling a story.

But the reason they tend to get placed in opposition so often is precisely because of this. They are two different ways of telling a story, two different ways to reach an audience and, ultimately, two different ways to make money from the same story.

Film producers love literary adaptation. They are constantly looking to fiction for great stories or, better yet, for stories with built-in fan bases. And it’s not one-way traffic. Successful films and TV shows are routinely repackaged as novelizations or extended with the further fictional adventures of popular characters.

Book to screen…and screen to book

So, how exactly does a book become a film, or a TV show? What makes for a great literary adaptation, and how do you go about it? How many times have you read a great novel and thought, how has this author’s work never been adapted?

And what about the other way around. Novelizations and book spin-offs? Where do they fit into all this?

This week, I answer all these questions, and more, in a conversation about literary adaptation with authors Paul FitzSimons and author Carmel Harrington.


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Paul FitzSimons

Literary Adaptation (Words To That Effect) paul-fitzsimons-burning-matches Paul FitzSimons is a writer, film producer and script consultant. His debut novel ‘Burning Matches’ is on sale now from Amazon and these other stores.

His debut feature film ‘The Gift’, starring Alan Devine, Una Kavanagh and Dawn Bradfield, was released in Irish cinemas in April 2017 and is available on Amazon Prime. You can watch the trailer here.

Paul also runs screenwriting courses. Listeners to WTTE can get a discount to get the full course for $25.00 (down from $100).  Just use the discount code: WTTE25



Carmel Harrington

Literary Adaptation Words To That Effect (cold feet)Carmel Harrington is an award-winning author from Co. Wexford. Her latest books are Sunday Times Bestseller and Irish Book Award Shortlisted Popular Fiction Book of the Year The Woman at 72 Derry Lane (Harper Collins) and the UK Top 20 Bestseller, Cold Feet The Lost Years (Hodder & Stoughton), an official ITV novel based on the popular TV show Cold Feet.

Her seventh novel, A Thousand Roads Home will be published 18th October 2018.

More details and her full bio are on her website here



Music this week was by the wonderful musician Paddy Mulcahy. All his work can be found on his website here

Track Listings:

Tape Sketches: Tarantella

The Words She Said: Brother Walks In

The Words She Said: On A Hill In Swinford

Nowhere To Be: one song for dance


Works Mentioned

Chuck Palahniuk: Fight Club

Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl

Paula Hawkins: Girl on a Train

JoJo Moyes: Me Before You

Charles Dickens: Great Expectations


Looking for more contemporary literature?

This episode is on crime writing and domestic noir

Or, how about this one on the cultural history of book clubs ?


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