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So hey, let's talk about movie options!

Movie options is a thing that happen to writers on occasion. A studio will decide that they want the option (see? see?) to make a movie out of a book.


They pay the author a sum of money--depending on the demand, a small amount to a large amount--to hold this option open. For the next eighteen months/two years/whatever, nobody else is allowed to make a movie out of it.

Many are optioned, but few return to the sunlit lands...that is, are made into movies. Once the option expires, the author can sell it to someone else, or if the studio really wants it but has just been so busy lately, they can renew.

In the highly unlikely event that a movie is actually made, the author receives a much larger payout. This is not like a publisher, though, who has bought the book and will almost certainly publish it unless something weird happens (Out of twenty-two books sold to major houses, I have had ONE not actually get published--it's in the process of having rights revert back.) A studio optioning a movie means that the odds go from a one-in-a-million shot to a one-in-a-thousand shot. They option far more than they ever make. It is a wildly different industry.

Keep this in mind as I tell you the next bit of information, which is that Castle Hangnail was just optioned by Disney with Ellen Degeneres's production company attached to the project.

I actually show up in Hollywood Reporter and everything!

So, no, I have no creative control or veto power--I think there's a line or two about input in the contract, but I imagine it's much the input authors get on covers--and no, I don't actually want any. I don't know anything about writing movies, and I am not inclined to jiggle the hands of people who do. I have no desire to write a screenplay. I have had one phone call and a contract--they were lovely and asked questions about my vision, and I expressed the fact that I am okay with being a springboard for theirs.

No, I am not actually stressing over whether it gets made. Movie options are an unhealthy thing for authors to get invested in. Take the money and practice your inner peace.

No, I did nothing to get this (other than writing the book.) THIS IS WHY AGENTS ARE GOOD. My agent went out and pounded the pavement and had power lunches and gave copies away like they were going out of style. This is why my agent gets 15% of everything, and why I do not even begin to begrudge it.

No, I am not picturing actors. I can't. Face blindness makes this a sort of useless exercise. I know like five actors. If it isn't Vin Diesel, Sean Connery, Jeff Goldblum, Lucy Lawless or Karl Urban, you have to go "The guy who played the guy who died in Lord of the Rings" and I go "OH! Right! That guy!" (Feel free to picture them, if you want to! Go for it! I just can't help.)

No, alas, I am not fabulously wealthy--it's less than I get for a kid book sale, although it DOES NOT SUCK for not having to do any extra work! I am going to cheer over the check and then I am going to send it off to the IRS, with only a brief pause in my bank account along the way. The fabulously wealthy bit would be if they actually MADE the movie (and by fabulously wealthy, I mean I'd pay off half the mortgage. I am a fairly boring person where money is concerned.)

But yes! My first real movie option! To Disney! It's pretty bad-ass, not gonna lie.


Will you get a piece of the action if it's made and becomes a big hit?


Yes! In the one-in-a-zillion event of a blockbuster, I am not left out in the cold.

Congratulations! May it at least cover the cost of a truckload of mulch. And since it's Degeneres, it's highly unlikely it would be made with Michael Bay directing. Always a plus!

A Michael Bay Digger would be a very, very strange thing.

In any event, it's always nice to get an unexpected bonus! May it be only the first of many.

I'm trying to remember who it was who said something along the lines of, "Having a book optioned is like being handed $1000 and a puppy...and after two years they shoot the puppy."

LOL That's horrible. Also...yeah, if you got invested, totally.

The old saying used to be "Take the money and shade your eyes so you don't see what they do to your book." But actually, I love "Castle Hangnail" and despite that I think it's a good fit for Disney. If (when!) they make the movie, I intend to go see it - and I go to very few movies. Fewer than one per year.

I think Ursula's attitude is very healthy here. All art is inspired by other art to at least some extent; this movie (if it got made) would simply be so heavily-inspired by one of her particular books that they'd need to be certain of their rights if they wanted to make it. It's not the kind of thing that'd be covered under fair use. And it'd happen to have the same name, but whatever.

*cheers* and I'll be able to say I knew you when... I remember delivering unsold art you forgot to pick up or something...

Free money! Congratulations! This is great!

There are writers who have had the same work optioned repeatedly.

You + Ellen DeGeneres = head-asplody levels of awesomeness. Hope it happens!

That's pretty cool!

I'm with you on the actor thing- I'm not face-blind, but I have poor "name face" connection skills, *and* I watch few movies and almost no TV...

Congratulations! I loved reading Castle Hangnail!

Now if they can just get Ron Perlman (that guy under all the make up in the 80's Beauty and the Beast series and the Hellboy movies) to play Majordomo, I'll be pleased.

Oh, that would be SO COOL!! And Tim Curry for the slimy investor, because I have never seen him NOT play a villain. Except a few endings of Clue.

Squee and congrats!

I know you don't get any say in it, and probably have no idea about which type they're thinking anyway, but what sort of medium would you most like to see your work in? As in, traditional animation, or CG animation, or live action, or claymation, or all done in puppets a la Dark Crystal, or some other way I can't think of now? Or do you even have an opinion on that sort of thing (and aren't purposely Not Thinking About It so as to not get too invested)?

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That's how I feel about The Martian. I followed Andy Weir's webcomic back in the day, he was just another one of a couple dozen random people drawing not-especially-famous comics, and now something he's done is a frigging Ridley Scott film, WTF.