Film vs Novel – ‘Firestarter’

Firestarter Film vs Novel by Casey Carlisle

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 07 by Casey CarlisleYou certainly get a feel for the 80’s. So many references. The novel was a nostalgic read. The film is comparatively in the style of horror movies being produced in the early 80’s as well, though it has some great special effects for its time.

As much as I loved this book – the protagonist Charlie, the paranormal ability of pyrokenesis, the antagonists in The Shop – ‘Firestarter’ felt like a long read. Normally I fly through books like this, but it took me over a week to reach the end. I was continually needing a rest as King went off in tangents and titbits of backstory for secondary characters. It brought the pacing down somewhat. But I appreciated all of that extra information – it really fleshed out the world and characters… so it was a tug-of-war for me between liking Kings writing style and getting bored with it. In the end the amazing writing and subject matter won out: you can always skim the uninteresting bits. As far as the film goes by comparison, there is no let down in the pacing, no chance to tear your eyes off the screen. The action is kept going from start to finish, with a few flashback scenes (as in the novel) for context and backstory, though with parts of the original story cut for time constraints, some things don’t make the best sense.

Some scenes were more gruesome than I expected, but upon completing the novel version of ‘Firestarter’ I kind of wanted more. More horror. More action. But I guess it would have been unrealistic with a child as the protagonist – that kind of action would have twisted her into something monstrous and broken or dead inside. The movie obviously omitted some on-screen deaths and gore to keep it in a marketable ‘M’ rating.

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleThe depiction of Charlie in the novel felt intelligent beyond her years, but still had the innocence of youth in her view of the world. It was phenomenal to read about the psychic powers growing within her, (and those of other characters.) You get a small character arc with Charlie, but because the narrative takes on many points of view and encompasses many characters, there is more going on around her. I think that was another thing slowing the pace down for me – following some of the other characters just wasn’t as interesting. The film version of Charlie, played by Drew Barrymore comes off as more of an obstinate child at times.

With all the training Charlie is meant to have up until the scene where the movie opens, this alludes that Charlie can pretty much control her powers, but the Airport scene depicts her as not being able to control her ability or not wanting to use it. Not matching the narrative of the novel at all. This scene from the film also tips The Shop off about her ability, yet in the novel it is kept in question up until well over halfway, where she uses this fact as a bargaining tool with the scientists trying to test her.

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleCharlie’s powers are meant to be effortless to use (depicted in the novel,) but the heavy breathing, sweating, use of a wind machine to dramatize Drew Barrymore’s depiction of the pyrokenesis – and how she repeats “Back off” to switch it off, make the use of her ability a little clunky and awkward for the film. Charlie never vocalised her ‘cool-down’ in the novel, and her ability was used easily – hence the training.

When Charlie was in with The Shop, they drugged her to inhibit her use of her ability, yet in the film, even though they knew of her ability, they did not use this method of control. Instead may of the scientists walked around in hilarious looking thermal suits.

Additionally, in the film with Charlie befriending Rainbird, she confides just about everything and never draws her own conclusions to his deception. Where in the novel she is much more intelligent and mistrusting. She also gets a note from her father informing her of Rainbirds true intentions, leading to her forming a plan of escape. I wish we had seen the more aware and strategic version of Charlie on the big screen. Even after the first demonstration of Charlie’s power in the film, while everyone is distracted she walks back into her room… where in the novel she takes the opportunity to find her father. Dumbing down her character was detrimental to this film. Even with all these issues in context and story Barrymore’s portrayal of Charlie is epic. A true testament to her acting chops at such a young age.

Andy (Charlie’s Dad) was the dedicated loving father, nurturing and supporting Charlie, instilling right and wrong, ‘Firestarter’ is as much his story as hers. I feel that we don’t get as much character development as we could because this is essentially a cat-and-mouse chase story, tumbling from one escape to the next.

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 04 by Casey CarlisleThe biggest difference to the written version to the one played by David Keith in the film, was how his ability was portrayed. It was meant to be mental dominance, yet somehow he manages to affect phone booths to extract coins, and change television channels without the use of a remote. Was he meant to have different abilities in the film? The dramatization of Andy using his ability felt overacted. Grabbing his head, a bloody nose. Even though thie is typical treatment for the time of its release, I wasn’t sold. In the novel he got headaches, disorientated, and exhausted. Using his ability is said to give him mirco-aneurisms, a blood nose was overkill. Leaving Charlie to take the lead in taking care of him and ensure their safety.

Another aspect explained in the novel was the ricocheting of Andy’s ability, it’s set up in the narrative, and shows a history and line of progression – in the film however we get a scene around one character seeing snakes with no context.

Rainbird is the quintessential antagonist from King. He manages to paint interesting and layered bad guys that still give off an aura of pure evil. It’s easy to see why so many of his novels get the film treatment. With the native American Indian background, it felt like a foreshadowing of diverse writing that we see today – even if there are colours of stereotyping and discrimination (as too in dealing with transvestism.) Villainising minority groups in the time ‘Firestarter’ was published was commonplace.

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

As for the depiction of Rainbird in the film: George C Scott is not Native American, I think I was offended by this more than any other change for the movie adaptation (thank heavens he wasn’t in blackface.) Additionally, there was no setup, no backstory to build this iconic antagonist. The film left Rainbird feeling two dimensional. The same thing happened to The Shop’s spies near Charlie’s Grandfathers cabin – no set up or backstory – there was no context to validate why they were even there. In the novel they lived at the place for months, in the film, days.

The final battle scene at the Barn has some major differences. We get all the Hollywood treatment of Charlie puffing and shooting fireballs, evaporating bullets for the film. When the horses are set free, none get shot or catch on fire like in the novel. The special effects of some of the bad guys catching on fire is a bit hilarious as they just stand still screaming. Umm, I’d be running and failing, rolling on the ground. But I did like how one guy gets blown in to a tree fully ablaze from Charlie’s psychic blast.

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 06 by Casey Carlisle

The novel shows Charlie taking out the entire compound (and people), where the film has her exhibiting much more restraint in carnage. The book suggests Charlie’s abilities extend much further than pyrokenesis, but the movie keeps her psychic power within the confines of a Firestarter.

The novel ends on Charlie contacting the ‘New York Times’ – a reputable newspaper; but the novel has her going into the offices of the ‘Rolling Stone’ because it was the only publication independent of the reach of The Shop to have her (and her Father’s) story published.

The writing of the novel is somewhat dated. The references are solidly entrenched in the 70-80’s. Technology, attitudes… it was nostalgic in a way, and also had me thanking god we’ve evolved from that place. Stephen King has a resounding writing style – descriptive and distinctly dry and masculine. Though he has a tendency to repeat things a number of times. And a perchance to long drawn-out exposition. This had me skimming a page or two. It also slowed down the pace and I was frequently putting the book down for a rest. While I enjoyed the film, it does not stand the test of time and fails to compare to the book.

I won’t comment on predictability – I’d read the book and seen the film before, plus it’s such a well-known story the plot was all but spoiled long ago. Looking forward to the film remake currently in development to see how they modernise ‘Firestarter’ and tie it into the Stephen King universe at large. It’s rumoured for a late 2019 to a 2020 release. I hope we will get to see Drew Barrymore return and possibly play the role of Victoria McGee, Charlie’s mom. Fingers crossed.

Firestarter Film vs Novel Pic 08 by Casey Carlisle

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Excerpt from ‘Embers’ (Book 2 in the Smoulder series) by Casey Carlisle

Embers BannerA small lizard ran in my direction before grinding to a halt a metre from the base of the rock where I perched before bolting in another direction. Maybe I was in his regular sunning spot? I smiled inwardly, thankful for the distraction. It was then I noticed the pattern of ants on the ground, some marching a straight line to where I sat, before shooting off in random directions. But nothing crawled inside the invisible bubble around my rock. Dread washed over me as the tiny hairs prickled along my arm. It meant one thing… one of the Hunters was close by.

Tara Oschler, the one who could compel.

My face and limbs blushed cold despite the outback heat. I prayed I was falling victim to an over-active imagination and searched for more evidence that maybe it was my ability at work in its passive state. Sadly, no flies clung to my back, and no other insects inhabited the circumference around where I sat. That would only happen if they had been compelled…

My brain sputtered to life hesitantly. Hadn’t Tara and the other Hunter run off? How could anyone find me out here? I was in the armpit of nowhere for goodness sake – they couldn’t have followed me.

I was in the middle of nowhere. Alone.

 

Oh shit.

Was Tara alone? Did I have time to make a run for the car?

As if answering my question, Tara emerged from the brush, quickly followed by man.

“That’s her. That’s the bitch that got my brother murdered.”  The pair of them shot intense hatred from their eyes. “Hey bitch. It’s payback time!”

I scrambled to my feet, balancing on the rocky protrusion, absently feeling for my phone. But my back pocket was empty. My one connection to help most likely sitting in the central console of the car.

Jumping down behind the boulder, at least gaining some cover and ground as the pair split, working their way to either side in attempt to cut off any escape route. My eyes quickly flicked to the ground in search of a branch, or rock, something to club with, or throw. Maybe I could temporarily blind one of them with a handful or dirt?

Realising I hadn’t said anything, I prayed there were words to buy me some time… but what could I say? It wasn’t me? You’ve got the wrong girl? Are you off your meds?

When I took a step in the direction of the car, they both stopped, crouching.

“You’re the one we can’t get to. But that’s okay there are other methods of taking down prey.” The man sneered.

“Andrew’s got pretty good aim. But don’t worry, we’re not going to kill you straight away. We have other plans for you.” The light glinted off a knife balanced in Andrew’s fingers.

What was with the storybook villain act? Seriously, who said things like that? Crouching and gnashing teeth at me was SO WRONG. This had to be a joke.

“You better back off. I’m not defenceless. Or did you forget what I did to you before?” I watched their eyes meet in consternation, yet they did not stop their slow progression to intercept any path back to my Volkswagon. “I’m not alone.”

That froze them in their tracks. It was like I could read a struggle playing out over their expressions, like they were being forced to do this. Grief makes you do some strange things. And this was just another symptom. I took the opportunity of their uncertainty. With nothing in reach. Nowhere to run to without getting tackled, and most probably stabbed. I did the only move I had left. I let the fear and stress wave through me, harnessing it with whatever mental pull from that involuntary place inside me. I hoped I was able to knock them out like before. Then I’d run like Hell itself was opening up under my feet!

But it felt vastly different this time. Almost like I had bile burning and gurgling up from inside me. Great, I was going to puke them into submission.

But just before I was about to double over and spill my guts, the air distorted around us. A gust of hot wind shot outwards. Grass caught fire. A pop and sizzle as the ends of Tara’s hair dissolved. Andrew’s pant leg turned black under an orange flame.

They screamed.

I must have been in shock. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened? Had I just set them on fire?

Smoulder series blurb

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Progress on the Smoulder Series:

For those of you who follow my blogs regularly and know about my works in progress, you are aware I like to create my own book covers while I’m writing. An inspirational/motivational tool to cheer me on. Given that I’m half way through writing the series, I wanted to design some covers that tie the books together, and designed a new set. Check out my handiwork below:

 

The Smoulder series

 

New covers:

Smoulder #1- Smoulder Series by Casey Carlisle sml Smoulder #2 - Embers by Casey Carlisle sml Smoulder #3 - Wildfire by Casey Carlisle sml Smoulder #4 - Firestorm by Casey Carlisle sml

Old Covers:

Smoulder by Casey Carlisle sml Embers by Casey Carlisle sml Wildfire by Casey Carlisle sml Firestorm by Casey Carlisle sml

 

Do you create your own covers for works in progress? Does it help you stay motivated too?

I’d love to see some of your creations…

Indigenous characters in popular Australian YA Fiction – do we represent? … by Casey Carlisle

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                The silence of our stolen generation echoes in our YA literature…

I’m not trying to be political, or clever, but growing up in Alice Springs, NT, aboriginals were my classmates, my friends, my neighbours… and it was only natural to include our native Australians as characters in my novels. I didn’t think twice about it. So when I did a little research recently on YA novels, particularly the Australian market – not only for interest’s sake, but a little market research – it upset me to find very little representation of not only Indigenous writers, but also Aboriginal characters within popular YA publications.

When tackling the global market and the most recent prolific titles for the YA industry, the only title that stood out depicting indigenous characters, was Twilight’s Jacob Black. Australian Authors didn’t even make the top ten on the list. When actively looking for cross-cultural content, you can find it. But you have to be looking, it’s not on best seller lists, shown in billboards, being made into movies (as is the current craze). Is it that we aren’t tooting our own horn enough? Going that extra mile to market Australian talent overseas? Staying true to the ‘Australian Brand’ in our writing?

Then I thought about my favourite movies and television shows produced in Australia and struggled to find any which had an Aboriginal character as a part of the main cast. Suddenly I felt very disappointed in our Entertainment Industry.

With a secondary character in the ongoing series ‘Smoulder’ and a half-cast protagonist for ‘The Understudy,’ Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are in the forefront of my cast it was never my aim to be culturally diverse. And it was a surprise in recent feedback on drafts, with beta readers praising the inclusion of characters of colour, which had me responding, “It really shouldn’t warrant comment. These types of characters should be mainstream in Australian content. Their representation wasn’t on purpose, I write drawing from my experiences.”

So I guess this is my social commentary on the sad fact that the only exposure overseas readers get of Australians and our indigenous brothers and sisters is of stereotyped characters like Paul Hogan, Steve Irwin and the nameless shadows clad in a loin cloth, propped on one leg with a spear. I really hope that more modern, Australian content starts to appear. Characters artfully written in YA novels with intricate and intelligent storylines to challenge preconceived ideas of the developmental rift between our two cultures. This topic leaves me itchy and uncomfortable because there is so much more that could be said, and so much more light needs to be spread over this topic. But I want to refrain from getting on my soapbox and concentrate on staying true to my voice. I guess I have to be one of those instruments of change – keep writing, continue to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander characters in my novels. And hope that others will start to do the same and show Australia for the truly unique country it is.

 

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Excerpt from ‘Smoulder’ by Casey Carlisle

Image            When we entered the Lab, Matthew wiggled his fingers at me in a goodbye gesture and took his seat in the front row.

“Miss Taylor!” Mrs Noble exclaimed happily. “I have the last spot just for you.”

She pointed across the room to the second-last bench towards the back, where an empty stool waited for me.

I recognised Theodore immediately. Raven black hair falling in strands across one eye. He hadn’t noticed me yet, busily flipping through a text book.

As I walked down the aisle to the empty seat a tingling sensation filled my head. I reached the desk and started to pull out the stool when he looked up. Expecting another dazzling smile I inhaled deeply to calm myself. Instead, his eyes widened in recognition and his forehead crinkled, an expression more worried than pleased to see me. I tried to hide the confusion from showing on my face – hadn’t he just smiled at me during lunch? It was understandable that he would change his mind now he could see me up close.

“Hi.” I quietly chirped, moving to sit down.

My face felt hot again, no doubt tinged with red. Not hitting the seat squarely, glancing painfully off the side, I stumbled and caught my head on the edge of the bench, tripping into the aisle. Great first impression.

“Are you alright?” Theodore bent down steadying me with his hands, both of us squatting between the rows of benches.

I was thankful that he had been the solitary witness to my ungracefulness.

“I’m sure I’ll live.” I pushed back my hair and met his eyes.

They were even more stunning up close, the lightest pale blue around the black centre, to a deep violet rimming the circumference. His irises did that reflective thing you see in photographs for a second. A little twinkle. I was suddenly aware of his hands on my shoulders and my breathing accelerated. Theodore’s hands were hot, maybe I made him nervous too?

“Here let me help you.” He stood, steadying me by grabbing an elbow.

“Is she okay?” I heard Mrs Noble ask over my shoulder.

My head momentarily dipped and I clumsily stepped into Theodore’s chest. Wow – he was more muscly than I had thought. His arms shot around me before I fell again. Boy he smelled good! I attempted to shake off the dizziness and felt Theodore stiffen. Was he preparing for me to topple again?

The sound of breaking glass exploded through the room followed by alarmed screams. I felt sharp pain on my left forearm. Looking up, I discovered that the beakers on the shelves above our bench had exploded, shards of glass littering the floor and the bench. My eyes shifted to focus on a glittering at Theodore’s shoulder, and the thick pointed wedges embedded there.

“Oh my goodness!” Mrs Noble fussed, signalling for the class to settle. “How did that happen?”

“You’re hurt.” Theodore’s husky voice breathed in my ear.

I knew it was my arm without looking, it stung and a warm stickiness dribbled towards my elbow.

“Mrs Noble, she’s bleeding.” Everyone wide eyed and excited, but Theodore’s voice was calm, as if unaffected by the event.

“Dear girl.” She stepped over splintered glass and inspected my arm.

Theodore’s hands left my skin, followed by the distinct tinkle of a few pieces of falling glass.

“Should I take her to the nurse?” Matthew suddenly appeared at the teachers side.

“Yes, that would be a great help.” Matthew wrapped an unnecessary arm around my waist and walked me up the aisle towards the door.

I turned to look at Theodore, knowing he’d been cut too, but something about the look on his face made me stop. Matthew tugged on me harder and got me out of the door.

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Character Profile – Riley Taylor from the novel ‘Smoulder’ by Casey Carlisle.

A big-city girl trapped in the outback!

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She’s clumsy, headstrong, independent, and the quiet girl who sits at your lunch table and barely says a word. You think she’s pretty , but she feels awkward and out of place…

If you have been reading the excerpts from ‘Smoulder,’ on my blog, you have an insight into Riley with her reaction to first witnessing Teddy’s pyrokinesis; and her attempt in discovering if she also has a latent ability (and coming up empty in a comical tone). So in this blog I thought it would be fun to learn about the girl herself – what makes her tick. Plus see how I pictured Riley with some of actors I had in mind when creating the character…

I didn’t want the protagonist to be weak or reactive to what goes on around her, although it was essential she possess a certain amount of naivety and passivity in dealing with her peers. Although she would carry a strong sense of self and need the security of family to ground her – because in all other aspects of her life she would not have a clue about what she wants. From this ideal Riley Taylor emerged.

Riley’s journey and growth throughout ‘Smoulder’ will force her to question these ideals and either evolve or fade into obscurity. Which she will always find challenging because she is at her core, an introvert.

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Physically, she has clear pale skin and a vibrant mass of curly red hair, Riley is of above average height and slender, but athletic. Actors Skyler Samuels or Kate Mara most closely resemble how I pictured her. A keen hiker and love for gardens gets her outdoors frequently, even though they are in essence, solo activities. If she is put in the spotlight, particularly in front of a crowd, Riley’s nervousness accumulates to the point she becomes clumsy and uncoordinated.

Having lost her father when she was young, Riley tends to escape in to the worlds in her novels, the romantic notions of good triumphing over evil and destined love make her feel safe. Feeling out of place in Alice Springs and the desert heat, wanting to return to the anonymity of a lush Adelaide, adds to her need to retreat into a make believe world where everyone is happy.

Loving Botany, she has developed a detached way of viewing the world through scientific observation at times, and is torn between the two juxtaposing notions of Literature and Botany for a possible career. Although either profession would accommodate her penchant for dressing comfortably, rejecting feminine stereotypes of high heels, dresses and make-up.Image

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She has two very different reactions to the Tavish cousins, Teddy and Tom – where usually she would spurn the interests of the opposite sex – these men stir something all too new. Riley finds Teddy mysterious (and tortured), confident, excessively handsome. He’s mature, standing out from all the other boys at the college, and is protective of her when she is unable to protect herself, leaving her feeling cherished. He makes her feel inadequate which is something she has never been made to experience. Teddy epitomizes the kind of man she dreams about but could never have.

Tom, altogether different, is genuinely happy, does things for others without reward or recognition, she feels safe and comfortable around him. Discovering he is always misjudged – Riley comes to his defense and feels like his champion. Tom is first boy to make her out laugh loud and hard. He values her opinions and independence, qualities she has only had with her Mother, and leave her feeling unique and important. He makes her want to be a better person.

Both boys challenge her with introspection and bring qualities to the surface she never knew she possessed.

I hope you find Riley as someone you can relate to, and want to find out how she deals in being confronted with the secretive and supernatural Tavish Clan, the dangers coming to Alice Springs, and the dramas of High School in the upcoming novels included the Smoulder Series.

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Here’s another excerpt from ‘Smoulder’ by Casey Carlisle

Also, check out another of the ‘Craptastic Covers’ for this novel…

Image            When I finally heard the lunch bell, I raced to the cafeteria. Bernie and Rebekah were quietly involved in a passionate discussion, careful to keep their voices quiet so no-one would hear, head’s ducked low and close together. None of Teddy’s group were lounging in their regular secluded spot away from everyone else. Instantly, I ached to see him, watch a smile broaden across his face. Find some comfort in his cautious eyes. This would not do!

None of the other group had come to the lunch table yet, and to distract myself, I decided to put a little notion to the test.

I concentrated on a blonde girl two tables over, recognising her from my Biology class. I think her name was Jane. Focusing my will power to listen in, hear her thoughts…

Nothing!

Trying a different tack, I quietened my mind, opening it up to whatever was floating about in the ether. Waiting for something to pop in, reveal someone’s inner thoughts…

Still nothing. So mind reading was out.

Next theory. I stared at a screwed up wrapper on the table next to me, imagining it moving of it’s own accord off the table, falling to the floor. Nothing else existed, darkness crept around the edges of my vision until only a circle of light existed around the crinkled plastic wrapper. No sound, not even my own breathing could be perceived.

Move! I thought.

Then suddenly it did.

“Is this yours?” Matthew had picked up the discarded rubbish I’d been staring at and held it out to me. “You look like you want it pretty badly.”

“Huh?” I blinked at him, the world around me flooding back into focus.

“At first I thought you were going to get up and thump Jane, although I don’t know why you would, she’s a nice girl. Then you turned your anger towards this innocent screwed up piece of plastic. So either you’re starving, angry or constipated. Nonetheless your expression is extremely unpleasant.”

“I was just thinking.”

“Of what? Me?” Matthew sat leaning forward with a silly grin.

“No.”

“You forgot to turn off the gas?”

“Matt!” I warned.

“You’re in a mood tody. It’s not one of those lady things is it?”

If I had the power to compel anyone, it would have worked now. Every cell in my body was wishing Matthew would stop talking and leave. Even Bernie and Rebekah had stopped their intense whispering to stare at me.

“You know what? I think I’ll eat lunch somewhere else.”

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.