It's an exciting time for Blake Crouch. The author has just released Wayward, the second novel in his Wayward Pines book series. Meanwhile, the first book Pines is being adapted into a TV series for FOX, on which he serves as a writer and producer. BFTV recently conversed with Blake to discuss the writing of Wayward and the process of taking his talents from page to screen.
Book series, especially those with a supernatural element like the Wayward Pines set - which focuses on a town created to preserve humankind in the far future - can get complicated for readers, but what about their writers? While Blake was penning Wayward, did he have to refer back to Pines to keep everything in order?
"Particularly with the Wayward Pines series, I’m constantly referring back to the earlier books to make sure the way I describe characters and places stays consistent. At the moment, I’m writing the third book in the series, and I’m always flipping back through Pines and Wayward, trying to remember what I did, how I did it, et cetera," he revealed, adding, "It’s actually really annoying. I can’t wait to write a standalone again! The freedom!"
Blake's writing process is as intense as the plots he creates. "It’s pretty much a full-on obsession with hitting my daily word-count goal, which at the moment is 1,000 words a day so I can finish this book by the deadline and not be murdered by my editor," he told us. "Once/if I hit it, I feel like I have the rest of my day off to do whatever. If I don’t hit it, I feel guilty and kind of miserable. I work off of an outline which is subject to change at any moment, and I try to print out my work at the end of every day and see how it reads in tangible form."
But don't expect to see him holding it once the book is finished and in print. "I have never gone back and read a book I’ve written, just for enjoyment," Blake admitted. "I think part of it is that I’m sick to death of the book by the time I’ve written it, edited it, reviewed proofreading changes, and copyediting changes. I kind of just want it out of my life at that point. I’m pretty good about not self-critiquing after the fact, because what’s the point? You can’t unbake a cake."
We did get him to tell us what about Wayward he most enjoyed. "I’m partial to the Tobias scenes when he’s roaming out in the wilderness," he said. "There’s a simplicity, mystery, and everpresent threat of danger in those scenes that I think really came off well. Also, I just love writing about nature. I wouldn’t mind doing an entire novel on Tobias." Maybe that will be book number four.
While fans wait for the next volume, there's about to be a whole other audience exposed to these novels through the prism of the upcoming TV series. What would Blake say to folks who haven't cracked either available volume yet? "Wayward Pines is a true genre-crossing series. There are elements of sci-fi, fantasy, suspense, and horror in these books, but they contain the pacing of a thriller," he told us. "If you’ve ever driven through a quaint little town and felt like it was just a touch too perfect, these books are for you."
Here's where we tread into interesting territory. The adaptation of any book into a TV series or film isn't easy (just ask Richelle Mead, who's awaiting the film version of her Vampire Academy series). But Blake's fans should breathe easier knowing that he's a participant in the new TV series - and we don't just mean that his name is in the credits somewhere.
"I’m writing and producing. It’s a then-episode 'event' series, and I’m writing two of the episodes, including the finale, which I’m co-writing with the showrunner/creator, Chad Hodge," he explained. "It’s been a thrilling, lightning-fast journey. Chad specced the pilot script one year ago. We sold it in a competitive situation to FOX, who greenlit the series last May. The pilot shot in August, and the rest of the series shoots through early 2014.
"The translation from page to screen has been a natural fit. Ten episodes is the perfect length to tell the story contained in the first three books, and because of the way the show came together, [with] two scripts [and] a full bible first, we had the benefit of mapping out all the episodes early on, which is a huge service to the storytelling. We’re not flying by the seat of our pants. This show needed to be thought out in advance, and we were fortunate enough to have that opportunity."
How true will the series be to its source material? "The series is remarkably faithful to the books," he continued. "Of course there are some differences, but the changes are improvements, things that we’re doing in the show that I wish I’d thought of in the first two books."
Even with all the things that go into trying to get a book turned into an on-air project, there's still something undeniably cool about having your creation beamed into the homes of millions of people. We asked Blake to share with us some of the highs and surprises he's enjoyed so far in the adaptation process.
"The first thrill was reading the stunning pilot script that Chad wrote last year. Then watching our amazing cast come together - Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard, Juliette Lewis, Toby Jones," he said. "Writing the episodes has been a blast, especially knowing that the scenes I’m putting on a page will be brought to life by an insanely talented cast and crew. What's caught me by surprise is how fast it all moves in television!"
Even the fast pace and added commitment of a TV show isn't keeping him away from the printed word, though. "Right now, I’m writing the third and potentially last book in the series and the tenth and last episode in the TV series, so it’s interesting to be working on both simultaneously," Blake told us. "I have an idea for a fourth book, and if we were lucky enough to get a second season, who knows what might happen, but primarily I’m just really focused on finishing off the third book and the tenth episode as powerfully as I can."
Blake Crouch's Wayward is out now; you can pick up your copy of the book by clicking here. The TV adaptation, Wayward Pines, airs on FOX in summer 2014.