Pretty Little Liars is going to be a series premiering on ABC family next week. And if you didn't know, it is based on the popular book series by Sara Shepard. I was lucky enough to be one of the bloggers that received a little e-mail containing a Q&A with Ms. Shepard. So here it is (not in its entirety) ...
I was wondering how much influence did you have in the casting process?
I did not have input into the casting process. That was all done on the other side of the country, so I didn’t know who they were going to cast, but when they did cast the girls I was very excited to see who they chose to be Ali, who they chose to be Aria, and Spencer and all of the rest. They don’t necessarily look like the girls that I described in the books but I think that’s okay because they really embody each of the characters and they do a great job playing. Spencer is a great Spencer; Emily is a great Emily; they might not look precisely like the dolls on the cover but they’re great representations of the girls.
How does it feel as an author to have your book come to life on screen?
It’s pretty crazy. I’ve seen the pilot, that’s the only – I know they’re shooting more episodes but the pilot is the only one that I’ve seen and it is really, really close to the first book; so many little details like Aria’s pet pig Petunia makes an appearance which is in the book which is based on something in my life. Aria comes back from Iceland.Moderator:
All of the scenes are what I wrote so it was really – I just kind of kept giggling the whole time that I saw it because it was surreal, but really amazing. I almost couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing that this thing that I thought of is now on TV. It’s pretty great.
I just wanted to know if right now you have any sort of end game for the books. There are sort of a lot of ends so far but what – will there always be an A, et cetera. I know you can’t tell me all of that but –
No, no. The final book Wanted comes out the same day that the show is premiering and it is the conclusion to the series so A will be revealed and a lot of the mysteries will be solved. It is left – it’s left a little creepy and open-ended, but there is an end to the series. I wanted, and I am very happy that my publishers agreed, that we sort of wanted to go out kind of on a high note and not just drag things out and make everything make sense. Yes, the thrilling conclusion which is coming out June 8th and it will be really fun that readers who have hung on from the very beginning will be able to read the very last book and then go right into watching it on TV. I’m very excited for that.Moderator:
From a writer’s standpoint, what’s more dangerous: a pretty girl with secrets or an average-looking girl who knows your secrets?
Hm…I always think it’s the girl that knows the secret, personally. Well, it depends on what she does with it. In Pretty Little Liars there is a somewhat average looking girl who knows some secrets who – I don’t want to give too much away, but she definitely uses them in ways that aren’t great. I would say knowing someone else’s secret is always a little scarier, at least in Pretty Little Liars world.Moderator:
Are you involved in the screenplay writing or do you oversee that process?
No, I am not involved in the screenplay writing. Some of the people that I’ve worked with developing Pretty Little Liars, they are very involved so I feel comfortable that it’s not going to go in this like kind of crazy direction that I wouldn’t be happy with because some of these editors and producers I’ve known for a long time.Moderator:
I did get to read the screenplay pretty early on and I was pretty happy with it. I think it had been through a lot of revisions by then but it was pretty true to the pilot so for me it was like, well, this is just like the book, so of course I’m happy with it. I am not a screenwriter so I did not have a part in that but I think Marlene King, who is the main screenwriter, I think she’s done a great job.
Hi. I know that a lot of authors think about what if their books became a movie, but in the aspect of having a series how do you think this will work better for TV since it is like you have a lot of books in the series instead of having just movies?
I think it will work really well for a series because there is just so much material. I think – every author wants their book to be a movie and they think about it and I’m guilty of that, too. There is so much going on in the mystery and the back story of all this, it’s so deep that I think it’s perfect for TV because there is a chance to develop all of that. You really wouldn’t have that opportunity in a 90 minute movie unless they did sequel after sequel which would be pretty ridiculous. I think it’s great for TV.Moderator:
Which pretty little liar are you most like do you think?
I am most like Aria. I mean I think I’m like all of them. When I wrote them, there is a little bit of me in all of them. As far as what I was like in high school, I didn’t have an affair with a teacher, but Aria is kind of artsy. She’s not really interested in being popular and she just wants to be herself. I think at least the last couple of years I high school I was a lot like that.Moderator:
I identified with her with how all she really wants is just to get out of this little town and the people are all the same. They’re just so perfect and she – that drives a lot of her story and that’s kind of why she falls for someone older and interesting and not like a lacrosse player.
I was very much like that so she is very close to my heart, but all of them really are. I have—I share things with all of them and I think that’s what helped me write about them because I could easily identify with where they were coming from.
I’m sure you’re asked this all the time, but I want to know what was the inspiration for the Pretty Little Liars book series, particularly like the mystery elements and those kinds of things?
I am asked that a lot. It’s always kind of a hard question to answer because in some ways I’m not – it didn’t come together in like a day. I knew that I wanted to write a mystery series and I had some great editors that I was working with and we sort of kicked around ideas and we sort of thought up well, what happens – text messaging – this is five years ago and text messaging was sort of becoming bigger and bigger and what happens if some girls start getting weird texts? Then for the piece of like, oh maybe it was the lost friend. Then I started to develop what this friend could be like and the secrets that she would have on them. It all kind of came together pretty slowly. I did think about the characters a lot right away and their secrets and things like that. As far as what the series has become I mean, I don’t think I knew from the start that it would be such a mystery with such a back story and so much tragedy. I love what it’s become because I love writing about mysteries; I love reading them. I also love the part in Pretty Little Liars about sort of the perfect town that’s turned inside out by this kind of stuff. There is a lot in the books about how the media just hounds the girls and how everybody is talking about them and I loved writing about that and that’s just right up my alley. It was sort of a long process of thinking it out, but I’m happy with the series as a whole.This was a great Q&A that was hosted. Thanks to Meg for e-mailing me and stay tuned for more PLL posts. Now, I hope everyone gets to watch Pretty Little Liars when it debuts on ABC Family on June 8th at 8/7 central.
***Now go and grab your fave cup of tea or because it's Deb Caletti's month here, grab her fave: coffee (or whatever beverage you prefer) and HAPPY readings***