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The Book Was Better (but not always) – My Reaction to Good Omens Casting

Who’s excited for Good Omens to come to Amazon as a series next year?

Personally, I am psyched, because Good Omens is my favorite standalone novel and I have been waiting for this adaptation for years. I know some people aren’t keen on the recent casting, but I am eager to see what can be done with a story that remains my go-to indulgence when I just want to reread something amazing and familiar.

But I couldn’t help also being reminded of KrimsonRogue (a guy after my own heart with that name) and his YouTube channel “The Book Was Better.” As someone who graduated with a BA in “Creative Writing for Text and Screen,” analyzing adaptations in fiction, I have a deep love for this conversation, as there are times…when the book isn’t better.

Take Fight Club, one of my favorite movies of all time. I love the book as well…but the movie is better, and the author himself will be the first to say it. The ending is better, the flow is better. But that is a rare occurrence.

What about Game of Thrones? Is the written series A Song of Ice and Fire better than the TV series? When both are good, I think the answer is somewhere in between, because the mediums are so different. The book series can often give us more background, more details, more insight into what characters are thinking, but the visual version lets us see it and engage with the characters in a different way.

Is there a reason Game of Thrones is even more popular now because it has a TV version that reaches a broader audience? Maybe just that: reaching a broader audience. I didn’t even know about Twilight until the first movie came out. Harry Potter was popular enough before, but the movies pushed it over the edge into stardom.

As an author, I dream of the day when one of my stories might be adapted to the small or silver screen, though as a consumer of books and movies, having seen how awful some adaptation can be, it also makes me wary.

One of my favorite young adult book series is The Dark is Rising, and when that finally got a movie, The Seeker, an adaptation of the title book, The Dark is Rising, which is technically the second book in the series, it was terrible, barely a shadow of what the book really is.

Still, I dream of seeing a story of mine played out by actors, told to a broader audience. The hope, of course, is that I’d be hands-on enough to have influence over casting and the direction the adaptation went. In my opinion, the best adaptations are the ones that involve the author.

Since Neil Gaiman is going to be heavily involved in the new Good Omens series, I’m optimistic, even though he has stated that things might play out differently than fans expect, since everyone has their own ideas of how these characters should be portrayed outside of the text. What I appreciate is comments he’s made recently.

In what is likely one of the most reasonable plea for tolerance from fans, Gaiman said that your “headcanon,” that is, the images in your head that you personally treasure, are as valid as anything you will see on screen.

As Gaiman said, “[N]obody is ever going to take them away from you.”

In other words, if you don't like Tennant and Sheen, you are personally welcome to picture Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans. Or Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. Your imagination is as important as his.

I think that is a marvelous sentiment. I remain excited for this adaptation and look forward to how it unfolds. One of the original authors is seeing his vision come to light the way he wants it, and that makes me genuinely happy.

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