This thing happened recently, and I’m going to share it with you.
We put up the UK book trailer for Night School Fracture a few months ago, as you know.
Most people liked it. Readers from the UK and Spain, also France, said essentially “That’s exactly how I see the characters.”
There was a lot of enthusiasm, in particular, for the two new male actors.
Now, obviously, when casting you make some compromises. Carter’s hair should be straight and dark, not wavy. And his skin should be fair. And Sylvain should have darker skin and hair. That is how they’re described in the original UK books.
But each actor perfectly captured the ESSENCE of the characters. Campbell, who played Carter, brooded for England. Louis, who played Sylvain, became a pampered prince, all cheekbones and attitude.
I was sure we’d really got it right when, on Twitter, some readers guessed which actor was playing Sylvain or Carter via a photo that showed them only FROM BEHIND. (I had so much respect for those readers, by the way. Amazing.)
We always portray Allie as having red hair, even though she hasn’t since Book 2 because it’s kind of her calling card.
I mean, we all remember and love the Allie from book one, with her dyed, metallic red hair and clear, grey eyes…
Or do we?
Don’t be too sure
After the trailer went up on YouTube readers from other nations chimed in. And they were less impressed.
“Horrible,” one wrote.
“Um, which is which?” asked another
“I really don’t like the actors. :-(” wrote a third.
These disconsolate comments went on for some time.
Then, finally, this appeared: “They are completely different from those I had imagined. Sylvain is not even blonde.”
That one stopped me in my tracks.
What publisher had done this to my half-Moroccan Sylvain? In the UK/US/French editions he has wavy dark hair and tawny skin and blue, blue eyes.
It’s a publishing thing
Here’s the deal. When books are translated, publishers can and do take liberties with character descriptions (and much, much more but we’ll focus on the descriptions for now).
Maybe, for example, in your country, blondes are considered more attractive than brunettes. There it’s possible someone at a local publishing house decided to make Sylvain blonde.
If red-heads are considered unattractive where you live, in your edition Allie may NEVER have dyed her hair.
Not all publishers do this. Many will loyally translate what an author has written. But others adapt the description to something that makes sense locally.
You tell me
The thing is, I don’t really know if this is what happened. Night School is published in 22 languages and I can stumble through only three of those. I don’t even have copies of most of the international editions.
(Publishers are busy. They forget to send them. *Tragic face*)
Today, someone asked me on Twitter how I view the characters. But I want to turn that question around. I helped to cast the UK book trailers. So those give you a good idea of how I see Allie, Carter and Sylvain.
But the question I have is: How do YOU see them?
In your country, and in your mind, is Rachel half-Indian? Is Sylvain half-Moroccan? Is Carter brunette or blonde? What does Allie look like? What about Zoe or Jo?
Let’s talk about characters
Fill me in. Write a comment telling me how you see them.
You can also post photos on my Facebook page – or links to photos – of actors who you think look like the Night School characters.
If you do that, later I can do another post putting those photos here on my blog. And then we can all have a big old discussion about how wrong we all are. 🙂