Open For Interpretation



With the glorious release of the WILD CARD audiobook (read by the spectacular Mandy Nelson) now being a thing (did you know? it's a thing!), I've been thinking a lot about interpretation. Mandy did a wonderful job producing the book and bringing life to my characters. At the same time, listening to her delivery, pacing and style was jarring for me. Simultaneously, it came across my feed that some readers were casting various actors in the roles of Flynn, Cat, Loki and the others from the Etudes in C# series. This was also jarring because wait, seriously that guy?!  

So why don't we talk a bit about interpretation?

Hearing someone else read my words was, in a word, fucking surreal! I've had these people in my head since 2010. And when I write, I have a veritable movie going on in my head. I see the whole thing with soundtrack and voices and actors and emotional delivery and and and. But I also have the motivations for each character in my head. The whole act of writing is this weird form of delayed telepathy. I'm trying to put what's in my head into the head of someone I either don't know, or won't see at the time you're experiencing this stuff. Because it's a book and not a video or audio play or live performance, I can't be certain you will hear the same Marius that has been talking to me for 6 years. I can't guarantee that you would say the lines of dialogue in the same way. I can't even control what actor you would want to play a character. 

What I can control is anything on the page. I can describe a scene to the hilt, richly portraying the setting, the colors, the sounds. I can put dialogue tags, or "wrylies", into the text, but at the end of the day, that is a guide. I can't include links that say, "He said it like Jack Sparrow in this scene." 

And that's part of the fun, I think. Whenever we open a book, we're looking at someone else's thoughts through our own filters. The author provides clues and suggestions, but once the words enter my head, they are colored by my experiences, expectations, imagination. My interpretation. 

This is why I've often said that no two people ever read the same book. Little differences in delivery matter. And my imagined vision of Marius is probably different than yours. Funny thing: someone told me recently that he would cast Chris Hemsworth as Flynn. 

I jerked at that, not only because I have Hemsworth cast for someone else, but because that's so far off from MY Flynn. But it's no less valid! And I think that's amazing. I think it's awesome when you develop a strong mental image of my character that is different than mine: it means that it has connected to you in some what that is personal. You don't have a generic template, you have a specific idea. And that's awesome. 

And that's also why I'm not as quick to publicly disclose my dream cast. I like for you to have the option to create your own, without my opinion. I also don't want to make you feel like you're wrong. (Even though you could be way off from my way of thinking.) 

There comes a point when you're writing that you have to realize 2 things:
1) Someone somewhere will read your work while taking a shit. 
2) Once the book is out, it's no longer solely yours. Your control over it has ended. 

And getting a real-world experience with the latter was quite jarring, but also educational. 

So feel free to share with me here in the comments...

What is your headcanon? Who are your dream cast actors? And not just for my books. Are there stories you've read where you have a strong desire to see a very specific actor play a role? Tell me. 

(If you really want to know who I'd cast where, or see some of my inspirations, check out my Pinterest account. I have boards for all of my published works, writing prompts and more.)

PS: Welcome to the new website! Some things may not work (specifically, blog links that direct to other posts. The import from Wordpress was wonky. So bear with me, please. I don't think I can go through 8 years of blog posts to fix them all.) but the important stuff does. Like the new store where you can buy digital copies of my work.