Monday, September 22, 2014

That moment...

I think I'm turning into a skeptic as a reader. I find it harder and harder to find a book that grabs me. Walking into the library or a bookshop can be daunting, because how do you choose a book - just one book? I wonder if it's my work in publishing, and as an editor, that has made me so analytical of the finished product, but whatever it is, there is one moment which makes it gratifying. It's that moment when you know, regardless of what it is that sparks it, that this is the book for you.

I remember a friend giving me a copy of The Hunger Games to read. I'd heard a lot of build up about the movie, and of course I'd already seen merchandising showing Jennifer Lawrence playing the lead. Having already seen Jennifer in The Burning Plain and Winter's Bone, and X-Men was a 'coming soon' feature, Jennifer was already a personal favourite, so I knew I had to see this movie, and naturally I like to read the book before I see the movie. Sometimes it's the other way around, but not very often. I think once you've seen the movie, the book becomes somewhat less of an enigma, because the characters have already been brought to life before your eyes.

I'll admit, the thought of a book in which kids kill each other kind of turned my stomach, right up until the games began. Even then, Katniss was written in such a way that you just couldn't imagine her killing anyone. Until the point... (look away if you haven't read the book or seen the movie, I'm about to spoil it)... the point when Katniss finds out that Peeta has joined an alliance. For me, it was a light bulb moment and I knew I was hooked. It was all on! Katniss had been betrayed and it was only right that she should fight to win.

There's a Gerard Butler movie I remember that does almost the same thing. For the first half of the movie, you're rooting for Gerard's character. He basically gets talked into pleading guilty for a lesser charge to something he didn't do, and he goes to jail for it. He plots to seek revenge on those who did him wrong, which seems fair to begin with. So, as the viewer, you're with him. But when he kills a young member of the attorney's team, someone who inadvertently got caught up in the plot, suddenly your loyalties switch sides. Well, mine did, anyway. I'm not sure if that's what the writer intended, but certainly by the end of the movie the 'baddies' have become the 'goodies'. It's very cleverly done in my opinion.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to witness someone being 'hooked' by one of my books. It happened right before my eyes. Her expression kind of glazed over while she was reading and she became oblivious to everything else. She'd been successfully transported from real world to my fictional world. For a writer, that's pure magic. It makes the whole process worthwhile.

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