Mystery novel ‘Magpie Murders’ is a literary work which enjoys a massive following for its story within a story format and an author serving as its key character, whose murder sets the domino effect of an ever spiraling mystery, an art that only a few authors have mastered.
The novel’s screen adaptation of the same has been getting positive response from all over but, what has the journey of the story been like?
IANS recently spoke with Anthony Horowitz (CBE), the author of ‘Magpie Murders’ about the inception of idea, changes that were required to adapt his novel for the screen and working in the collaborative medium of films and series.
Interestingly, the idea of the ‘Magpie Murders’ didn’t find a ground in Anthony’s subconscious because he wasn’t confident about the pulling it off.
The novelist said, “I didn’t think about the idea of ‘Magpie Murders’ a lot for a very long time. The reason being I wasn’t sure that I was a good enough writer to actually pull this off. I had to wait to mature as a writer and become better particularly as an adult writer after publishing children’s books for a long time.”
But all this changed for the good when he sat down to pen the novel.
“Finally, I wrote it around 2015 and the book came up pretty much as I expected,” Horowitz recalled. “I knew it was going to be complicated but for a consumer it shouldn’t be complicated to read or comprehend. So, the book came up and it was a big hit. I realized that I did manage to break through in the world of adult writing.”
As the work for the novel’s screen adaptation began, his life changed forever. Horowitz said: “As we made it for the television this was more of a case of almost going back to the beginning because I very quickly realized that the book would not adapt to the screen because the lead character wouldn’t appear for 300 pages which is to say for 3 episodes and we couldn’t do that.”
He added: “More than that I had a story which was set around 1955 and I had a story set in 2022 and they were separate. However, on TV I had to somehow find a way to intertwine them so they would live side by side. It was a very tough writing process”, he adds.
For Horowitz, “It helps being married to the producer” (His wife Jill Green serves as the executive producer on the series). He adds, “I mean I am very close to whatever happens everyday and I am always there in case anybody needs me regarding anything even if it’s an actor who asks questions about the character that they are playing or in case of any help required with the production.”
He added: “Moreover it was a very respectful relationship on both sides where I was contributing and I always felt that my opinions were asked on various occasions.”
And how does he view the medium of OTT or web series with regards to the screen adaptation of novels?
Horowitz’s answer came in two part. He first said: “I think there are two different things in play here. I would like to see more of my novels adapted as I have been doing as much work in cinema and television as much I have done for my novel.”
And he concluded by saying: “I always think from the perspective of a camera whenever I write. The first shot of my book can also be translated into the first shot of a cinema or a show. In terms of actual writing these are such different jobs and I think there are some writers who know how to master both but not many can do that.”