Posted on 05/30/2018 at 09:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Have you heard the cliché about assuming? How it makes an a-- out of you and me?
Well, had author Zachry Wheeler dismissed some key visitors to his author booth because of an incorrect assumption, his debut novel wouldn’t be in the process of becoming a movie ... with a pretty big-name star, no less.
Let’s back up. Wheeler was working as a web applications developer when the idea for Transient, a young adult sci-fi novel set in the post-apocalyptic future, came to him.
After years of blood, sweat, tears, and beers (but not in the way you think), the final draft of Transient was published.
Since then, he’s put out two more young-adult novels, these ones more humorous, in addition to his hobby-turned-side-gig as an extra at Albuquerque Studios. (You might recognize him from Better Call Saul).
Wheeler took a few minutes from finishing the next installation in his YA humor series to describe how he went from web app developer to, essentially, screen writer.
SADYE: What was your reaction when you heard a studio wanted to adapt your work into a film?
ZACHRY: I was largely dismissive at first, but only because it blindsided me. The movie option for my novel Transient came via the 2017 Albuquerque Comic Con.
I was manning an author booth and got approached by a pair of gentlemen. They took an interest in the story and started asking a bunch of poignant questions.
I had no idea who they were, so when they discussed a potential option, I assumed they were the parents of film school students. As it turned out, they were major movie producers, one of which owned the local convention circuit.
They had been scouting the event for new ideas and took an interest in my novel. They read the book, loved it, and the option was secured a few weeks later.
It was a thrilling prospect, but I remained cautiously optimistic; options are just the first step in a long and volatile process.
My true excitement came when Voltage Pictures (The Hurt Locker, Dallas Buyers Club) approved the project for development.
SADYE: How involved have you been in the process?
ZACHRY: Much to my surprise, I have been very involved.
At one point, the head writer got called away to another project and the executive producer approached me with the latest screenplay revisions.
I got to put hands to script, which gives me a writing credit on the movie. The producer even gave me a green light to adjust the entire script for structure, tone, and pacing.
From an author's perspective, I have been very lucky in that regard.
SADYE: What has been the most surprising part so far?
ZACHRY: The casting. The producer has been kind enough to keep me in the loop, so I always have a decent understanding of where the process is.
Along the way, he mentioned the pursuit of a Game of Thrones actor for one of the lead parts, but couldn't tell me who it was until he spoke with agents. I brushed it off, assuming it was a minor character that appeared in a few episodes.
Nope, it was Sophie Turner. That's right, Sansa Stark herself.
My jaw nearly hit the floor. That was the moment when everything got real for me.
Since then, the producer has released an official LookBook with casting targets and other details, which you can view here.
SADYE: Bookworms have a reputation (sometimes deserved, sometimes not) of insisting the book was better. Are you concerned about that at all?
ZACHRY: I'm not concerned about it, to be honest. The way I look at it, a movie adaptation is a huge boost to my author profile, regardless of how well it is received.
The producer is taking the project very seriously, and the current screenplay captures the tone of the book. Whether or not that will translate into an enjoyable film is anyone's guess.
The fans have been thrilled with the LookBook, so initial rumblings are positive.
SADYE: Any other funny/poignant/awe-inspiring moments about it all so far that you’d like to share?
ZACHRY: I got invited to speak at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, New Mexico (George RR Martin's theater), about the movie adaptation of Transient.
I had attended these author events many times as a fan, but never in a million years thought that I would get invited.
What started out as a generic Q&A quickly morphed into a high-profile event with the executive producer making a panel appearance.
Steven Gould, author of the Jumper series, even volunteered to serve as host and interviewer. The event was so much fun, and it really hammered home how big a deal this is.
It was also live-streamed, which you can view here.
* * *
Know an author you'd like to see featured? Email us with a recommendation!
Categories: Author Interview