I love adapting my own novels into plays. I'd hate to be responsible for anyone else's work. I'd imagine them hovering over my shoulder, begging me, "Oh, please don't take out that! No, don't change that!"
But what works in a novel so often doesn't work in a dramatic reading, or on a stage. If it's my own work then I know I can be ruthless. I feel quite free to slash out whole chunks, and twist scenes round so they work better. I'll do away with complicated subplots, and tinker with the timing of the story.
I'll do whatever works.
Only two things must stay the same. One is the mood of the work. The Devil Walks is a gothic tale set long ago. Mostly I write realistic novels set in the present day. But suddenly I felt an urge to write a brooding and malevolent chiller-thriller with a real villain, and this was it.
The other thing I like to keep the same is all the characterisation. Daniel is still the boy he was in the book, well-meaning and determined, if horribly confused by all the mysteries surrounding him. His stiff and tragic mother remains the same. And so does Captain Severn, a man so mercurial that Daniel cannot fathom his true nature.
People who read one of my books, then the play version, often ask, "Why on earth did you cut out that bit?" (Luckily, I can usually recall the reason.) People who read the play and then the book say, "It never occurred to me that there could be so much more in the original story."
I expect that's why I am essentially a novelist, not a playwright.
- The Devil Walks
- is different from anything else Anne has written written. It's a gothic tale with a wonderful role for someone as the sinister uncle.
Heinemann Plays For 11-14
- Anne Fine has dramatized her own humorous novel for the Heinemann Plays series. The play has 12 parts: 5 male, 7 female.
- Flour Babies
- Anne Fine's humorous and moving story of one boy's attempt to come to terms with his own absent father by doing a school project on fathering.
- Step by Wicked Step
- Five children share a surprising discovery: but what do they all have in common?
- The Granny Project
- Anne Fine's story of how one family looks after their aging grandmother. The book contains a sensitive and funny playscript suitable for classwork and school production, accompanied by resources including background material and lively activities.
- The Tulip Touch
Collins Educational Plays Plus
- A stunning adaptation for schools by Anne Fine, of her much-loved children's novel. Why is Tulip always in trouble? And why does Natalie find Tulip's dangerous games so fascinating? A powerful story about troubled teenagers and their relationship to the adult world.
Your bookshop or library can order any of these books for you. Ask your librarian for a 'request card'.
(Playscript editions have also been produced of The Country Pancake, Stranger Danger?, The Angel of Nitshill Road and The Book of the Banshee, but are now out of print.)
Teachers, find out more about books for schools, and other information for teachers here.