'Warm Bodies': From short story to movie

By Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comJanuary 24, 2013 

Isaac Marion is a Washington native. He was born in Mount Vernon and lives in Seattle. Marion self-published three novels before his breakthrough Warm Bodies. His book is now a movie, and it opens nationwide Feb. 1.

I loved the movie and am just about done reading the book. I connected with Marion, and we talked about the book and the movie.

Gary Wolcott: What's it like to write something and then have someone make it into a movie? What was in your head is now alive.

Isaac Marion: It's a positive feeling to have a production like that built around a story I created. It's just incredible and almost impossible to describe. It is very interesting to be on a set and to sit next to the people made up to look like my characters. It's hard to explain that feeling. I can't think of anything in life similar to that. People you imagined or made up coming to life is really a one-of-a-kind feeling.

GW: How did the movie turn out?

IM: The movie captures the spirit of the book pretty well. An adaptation can be different. They put their spin on it in slight variations and tone and minor changes to the plot. I really enjoyed it. It was a lot more faithful to the book than it needed to be and a lot more faithful to the book than they were required to make it.

GW: The movie is a little lighter in tone than your book.

IM: There is humor in the book, but it skews a little more toward drama. In the movie, the humor is more toward comedy. It's hard to explain to someone that it's a zombie love story with satire and jokes, but it's also a sincere, emotional story. It's a hard thing to combine. I think the way they did it is pretty good.

GW: Are you the main character, the zombie R?

IM: R is the most similar to me. He's not me exactly, but it's a part of me. Maybe an earlier version of me when I was a bit more troubled and lost in life. At the time I was writing it, I was maybe in a very bleak state. There's some of me in there.

GW: Where did you come up with the idea?

IM: It happened in stages. The basic concept of a thinking zombie started out as a short story that I wrote a long time ago. It had a zombie talking about life in the apocalypse. I started imagining, what would this creature think about if they had thoughts? What would it be like to be that thing? I enjoy writing from the perspective of nonfeeling beings or inanimate objects. It offers a way to look at the normal parts of life, the everyday experience from a different perspective. From that story, I expanded it into something bigger.

GW: How did Warm Bodies become a movie?

IM: I had the short story posted on my website. A talent scout looking for undiscovered people with potential hooked me up with a freelance editor who worked with me on editing an expansion I'd done on the story. She then hooked me up with a literary agent who sent it out into the world. As the literary agent was shopping for publishers, the producer was pitching it to studios.

GW: What's in the works now?

IM: I'm doing another book to conclude the Warm Bodies story and to kind of wrap it up. It's not a series. Just a conclusion. I'm going to start writing it soon. There's a prequel coming out at the end of the month. It's the interlude between Warm Bodies and the future sequel, and sets up the sequel and foreshadows what's going to happen and is a bridge between the two.

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