Emma Alice Johnson | Author And Zinester | Bizarro, Horror And Science Fiction | LGBTQ

Information about Emma Alice Johnson's books and zines.

Many people have told me that my books would make great movies.

This comment comes in two variations. The first is from people who have read one of my books. I love to hear the comment in this context, because it typically means that the imagery I created came to life in some way that resonated with them and they’d like to see it up on the silver screen. That is cool.

The second variation is far more disheartening. It usually plays out like this: I’m at a convention and someone stops by my table and starts flipping through one of my books. I describe it to them and their eyes light up. For a moment, I think they’re into it, they get it. But then they put the book down and say, “Sounds like a great idea for a movie,” before walking away. This is perplexing as fuck.


In either scenario, this compliment comes with the implication that having a book turned into a movie would be a step up, which makes no sense, because books are the superior art form.

Books Are Superior To Movies

It’s science, right? Reading books exercises your brain, fights off Alzheimer’s, reduces stress, helps you sleep and more. The studies are cited in this Huffington Post article, and Psychology Today ran a great piece on the specific benefits of reading fiction.

But let’s push science aside for a second and talk about what books do that movies don’t. Books are interactive. The words serve as guides for your own imagination, which does the real heavy lifting when you read. It’s your imagination that makes the author’s words come to life in your head. Furthermore, books allow you to get inside characters in a way that movies don’t. They aren’t constrained by a run time, allowing for a level of elaboration that can rarely be seen on film. There are also abstractions that cannot be accomplished within movies.

Put it this way: when was the last time a book you loved was turned into a movie and you didn’t groan and say, “The book was better”?

And I get it, reading is haaaaaaaard. You do have to put in the work and sometimes… well, a lot of times, it’s too much. I love movies too, but I acknowledge it as a more passive form of art. Still, there are things that movies can do that books can’t really do. Jump scares, everybody! Oddly enough, the movies I love the most are low budget B-movies that allow for more interaction, because they demand that you see them for what they were intended to be, rather than what the budget allowed them to be, and that creates a more active relationship, if you allow it to.

What Books Mean To Me

I went on a straight-up tirade the last time someone told me I should turn one of my books into a screenplay and have someone make it into a movie (like it’s that easy).

The bottom line is that I write because I love to write. This is my art. This is what I’ve been doing since I was a kid. Books are my end goal. They are not a stepping stone on the path to a film career. I’m not a failed filmmaker slumming in books. This is it for me. This is my thing. All of my weird little heart is in these insane books I write.

Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t like a film made of my movie, because I would, if only because I understand the reality that the “Your book would make a great movie” comment is such clear evidence of: films have a wider audience. I would like that audience. I would also like money, because books don’t make money, mainly because people walk past them en route to movies.

If I sound bitter, whatever. I’m not. I’m passionate about what I do, and I get bummed out at all the little ways in which people poop on the art form that chose me.

Of course, none of this really matters, because everyone knows that music is truly the superior art form.


One thought on “That Book Would Make A Great Movie

  1. St. Rooster Books says:

    I love this. Writing is not easy and books are not disposable nor a stepping stone to movies.

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