1. First off, what are your thoughts about the coronavirus pandemic, and how are you dealing with it?
I have some context: I lived through the SARS panic in Beijing, and that was actually scarier as the disease was more lethal. I am lucky in that I have a script job right now, I don't have to change my life that much.
2. What drew you to adapt Jacqueline Wilson’s novel “Four Children and It”?
I really enjoyed the mix of whimsical fantasy and gritty reality. It seemed to offer an opportunity to write a fairy tale for modern times.
3. What research did you do while writing Four kids and It?
I just read the book a few times.
4. Was there anything you find particularly challenging while writing Four kids and It?
It's challenging trying to write for kids and adults at the same time. Films aimed at kids have to be super smart now, as parents have to be engaged as well.
5. What is your favorite line from Four Kids and It?
When Smash tugs the Psammead out of the sand Ros says 'Shall I hit it?' And the creature responds, 'No, hit her!' It's the first time the creature speaks, and it's a great ??!!! moment.
6. How do you make the translation from novelist to screenwriter?
Good question. I'd say they are 75 percent the same as both formats are all about story and character. But novels have the luxury of choosing to go into character's thoughts and interior lives. The novels I write tend to be quite screenwritery, in that they are mostly action and dialogue. Basically, screenplays are lean and terse, novels are talky and effusive.
7. Were you ever on set for the making of Four kids and It? If so, could you tell me what scene you were present at?
I went to the set for a day, and watched them shoot a scene in the cottage. Sets are boring, they just do the same thing over and over again. I only went as it was a free trip to Ireland. I spent the rest of the time wandering around Dublin.
8. Were you able to meet any of the cast members (Paula Patton, Russell Brand, Michael Caine, Matthew Goode, etc.)? If so, could you express your experience with that person/s?
No. I don't involve myself with any of the hard craft of getting the thing on screen and I don't socialise with film people. I've met very few actors in my life.
9. How has studying art influence the way you write? Or has it?
I like to try and think in visual terms, which I guess comes from my art background- for example, what object could I use to symbolise that conflict? How can I create an image that would express this character's goals or dilemmas? What will look cool? Where can I stage this scene that will have maximum effect? And so on. Films are all about the visuals. I would love to write a movie with no dialogue one day.
10. What book (or movie) had the most influence in your life?
For book, I think I would say Money by Martin Amis or For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway. For film I would say Reservoir Dogs or Dawn of the Dead - these aren't my favourites now, they are just great works I came across in my formative years that inspired me.
11. What is your writing habit when you write your novels?
Tote a laptop around, spend a few hours in a coffee shop, walk for an hour, then more coffee, then repeat all day, every day. What I really like to do is go to eastern Europe, and stay somewhere for a week or two and do the same.
12. Which of your novels would you like to see made into a feature film and why?
Bad Traffic, about a Chinese cop who comes to the UK to find his missing daughter. People are trying to make it now, so there is hope.
13. If a self-published author is seeking a screenwriter, how would one get you or any experience screenwriter to read his or her story to see if it would make a compelling movie?
Screenwriters have stories of their own, they won't bother reading it. Send it to producers and directors as they are always looking for compelling stories.
14. which novel/novella/short story have you read that you would like to see a film adaptation (besides yours, of course)?
I want to see more films made from 2000AD comic characters. That's such a deep well of amazing stories, as good as Marvel, I don't know why it hasn't been plumbed.
15. What do you love most about the town you live in?
I live in Brixton and I love all the variety and contrasts of the area.
16. What was the last movie you watched in the theaters before the coronavirus pandemic ?
Four Kids and It. Sky did a screening. I was happy I could take my daughter to see it.
17. What TV show have you binge-watched during this pandemic? Or you currently writing as well?
Better Call Saul
18. Last question, what makes you laugh no matter what?
Monty Python sketches. As a guidebook writer, I used to do lots of very long bus and train trips, and I would keep myself amused by running through sketches in my head. Some hours in and I'd be giggling quietly. My fellow travellers probably thought I was mad.
Greatly appreciate Mr. Simon Lewis for his time to answer those questions. I hope you find the time to watch Four Kids and It when it releases on DVD and all streaming services on Tuesday, June 30th. You can pre-order it right now. It's a great family movie to watch with your children. Thank you for stopping by her to read this intriguing interview. Inform or share this interview with someone you know as well. Take care of yourself and have a great day.