The Writers of the Guardians: Author Kathryn Lasky

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Seeing your work turned into a movie can be an exciting and terrifying thing at the same time. Kathyrn Lasky, who wrote the 15 book Guardians of Ga’Hoole series, is now experiencing it. The first three books have been made into The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, directed by Zach Snyder. She talked about the anticipation of not even knowing if her books would be made into motion pictures, what it felt like when it happened and if she’s pleased with the end result.

This is part two of a two part series. In the first installment, we spoke to one of the screenwriters of The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole John Orloff. He talked about what it was like to write for an animated feature for the first time and the pressures of  not disappointing the original author of the material.

Michelle Castillo: What is it like seeing your work adapted into a movie?

Kathryn Lasky: It’s incredible. I mean, as I was just saying to somebody, the series I started almost more than ten years ago. So I’ve been living with these voices in my head for ten years, and just to finally see them out there is profoundly emotional for me AND their voiced by such terrific actors.

It’s almost like a reunion for me. Oh you’re here, and you’re here. It’s just an odd experience. I’ve been away from my family ever since (I finished writing.)

MC: Were you surprised it was made?

I was surprised when this was actually going to be made!

I was thrilled when we did sign the option agreemen,t because I never signed one with such a big studio. (My other option deals) were always signed by small production companies that were going to knock on big studios doors. This was the classiest option deal I had was made. But, I was very guarded: I know how few projects make it to the screen.

I met John (Orloff), and he said, “I got to tell you I really think this is going to happen. I really do.” If he says it’s going to happen, I thought it really might. And, he would never mislead me, so I got really excited then. There’s been so many stages of excitement it’s hard to describe.

MC: Did you always think that the voices should be Australian?

KL: No not necessarily, but it was very good that they did those voices because itcreated an imaginary world, and you know if these had all had Brooklyn accents or – I’m from the Midwest – Midwestern twangs, it wouldn’t have seemed so extraordinary to me.
MC: Where you shocked at how many changes they made from the original material?

KL: I was prepared that there would have to be changes because they’re squishing three books into a movie, and a book isn’t a movie. A movie is all action, and it’s happening in front of your eyes. It all has to happen on the screen in front of you. There’s no internal monologues.

I don’t think I’d be a very good screenwriter. I like writing (internal monologues), and I don’t like the action parts as much. I knew they had to do that in the movie. My main concern was they stayed truthful to the spirit of the book and the characters, and they did. You can’t stay overly attached to one scene or even one character. You can’t fit all the characters (from the book in the movie). I was mentally and psychologically prepared for these chances.


MC: What was one of the biggest changes for you?

KL: In the books Kludd (Soren’s evil brother) pushes Soren (the protagonist) out of the next, they both don’t fall out together. Somebody asked me, “Didn’t you think that was wrong?”

When I first read that (in the script), I was taken aback. Then I went back, and I read the preceding things again. They build Kludd up slowly because of the cataclysmic moment where they fall out of the nest.  You start to build his character. You start this slow disenchantment with Kludd, which is much more nuanced than if he kicked his brother out of the nest, and you see (Kludd’s) slow seduction at St. Aggies.


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