Gail Carson Levine - Author
Gail Carson Levine specializes in fairy tales -- but she retells them with her own twists. Her successful book, Ella Enchanted, a take-off on the Cinderella story, has been turned into a movie starring Anne Hathaway. Read on to find out what Gail thinks of the movie and what she loves about fairy tales.
RIF: Have you seen the Ella Enchanted movie yet? Is it how you imagined it?
Gail Carson Levine: I think the movie is a lot of fun. It’s very different from the book, but they could have been more faithful and made a worse movie. Miramax made a fun movie that has a lot of charm of its own.
RIF: Some fans of the book are worried the movie will be too different. What do you think?
GCL: I think it might be interesting for kids to think about why the moviemakers made the choices they made. There could be a lot of interesting discussions about this.
A book is an entirely different experience. You see a movie and you hear a movie and even so, a book wraps itself around you even more.
RIF: Did you get to help with the movie at all?
GCL: I had consulting rights. That means I got to comment, but my comments were strictly advisory. It was important to me how the curse of obedience was used. It can be a little tricky.
I watched the first days of shooting, which was a complete thrill. We got to see the props and that was so much fun. I’ll never watch a movie the same way again.
One of the things they did to prepare Anne Hathaway (the star of Ella Enchanted) for the role was to bring in a mime. Ella’s body would get an order before her mind caught up with it, so she reflects it physically. She’s such a fine actress.
RIF: When you were writing Ella Enchanted, did you think it'd be a good movie?
GCL: No, I didn’t have the imagination to think of everything that’s happened. What’s happened has been totally astonishing. Sometime I think I’m going to wake up and tell my husband about this wonderful dream I had.
RIF: Why do you like re-telling fairy tales?
GCL: I loved fairy tales as a kid. I’ve always been drawn to fantasy. They’re always exciting. There’s never a dull moment. I just love the embellishments and the magical stuff. It’s such fun to work with and to re-imagine your own way.
RIF: How did you come up with the languages for the strange characters in Ella Enchanted?
GCL: I loved the languages in the Lord of the Rings. I tried my hand at doing some of my own. I decided that I wanted each language to be different. The gnomic is a lot of throat sounds. And the giants aren’t the brightest creatures, but they’re very sweet. Their language has a lot of emotive sounds. I made the ogres’ language very slippery.
RIF: What advice do you have for kids who want to write?
GCL: Don't be discouraged if you don’t finish the stories. You still become better writers if you keep writing.
Writing is a weird thing because we can read, we know how to write a sentence. It’s not like a trumpet where you have to get some skill before you can even produce a sound. It’s misleading because it’s hard to make stories. It seems like it should be easy to do but it’s not. The more you write, the better you’re going again. Write and write and write. Try not to be hard on yourself.