It’s no secret that we are big book lovers here at Justine and we couldn’t be more thrilled about the fact that one of our personal favorite supernatural love stories, Beautiful Creatures, will make its debut on the big screen on February 14! The book-turned-film, which is the first of four in The Caster Chronicles series, centers around a small-town Southern boy named Ethan Wate (played by Alden Ehrenreich) whose world is turned upside down when he falls for mysterious new girl Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert) who, it turns out, belongs to a supernatural race of people called casters. The film’s young stars are joined onscreen by big names like Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons, Emmy Rossum and Emma Thompson. With a star-studded cast like that, it’s no surprise that the books’ authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl are thrilled to see their caster-world come to life. In our exclusive interview with the writers, Justine got a glimpse behind the scenes at what it was like from their perspective and we can only sum it up in one word — “magical.”
Margaret & Kami
What was your reaction when you first realized that Beautiful Creatures was going to be a movie?
Margaret: It all happened really quickly! We knew that Richard LaGravenese would be writing and directing so it was kind of this dream from the start. But I guess I’m a little cynical because I live in Los Angeles and I never really thought it would actually happen!
Were you nervous about the transition from book to film?
Kami: No, we were excited that someone like Richard was doing it because he’s an Oscar-winning writer and obviously knows what he’s doing. I always tell fans that I’m not going into the movie expecting to see every single thing that’s in the book — it’s more an opportunity to see someone else’s reinterpretation of this universe. I think Richard really captured the romance and the relationships, which are really the most important things because they are the heart of the book.
What exactly is a caster for those who might not be familiar with the term?
Margaret: Caster is short for “spellcaster” and there are many different kinds of casters with different abilities. Some can control the elements, like Lena, some can see your dreams and thoughts, some can read time.
Kami: I always say that casters are kind of like a combination between witches and the X-Men.
How did you react when you first found out which actors would be portraying your characters in the film?
Margaret: Well, like I said, I didn’t really believe it was actually going to happen! So when my brother called me up and said that he heard Viola Davis was in talks for the role of Amma, I didn’t believe him at first! Then when that really happened, and then next came Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons, it was just crazy. None of it seemed real; it was, like, too good to be true!
Kami: I had always pictured Jeremy Irons in my head as Macon when we were writing the book. So when I first heard that he was cast in the film, I thought someone was playing a joke on me! But really we were very happy with all of the casting choices. Alden (Ehrenreich) really is just this good guy, just like Ethan.
Margaret: Both Alden and Alice (Englert) are so like their characters in real life. Ethan Wate is really the heart and soul of this story and Alden has that good heart just like Ethan. Then Alice is just this free spirit — she is really cool and just has this Lena quality about her.
If you were a caster in real life, which kind would you be?
Kami: I would be a catalyst because I have a little bit of that dark side in me. I think it would be fun to wreak a little havoc!
Margaret: Well, I’m a bit closer to a Marian than anyone else in the book but she’s not really a caster. I’m just more of a historian and love going to places and learning about what happened. So I guess I’m much more boring, I’m not destroying anything!
What was it like when you got to go to New Orleans and visit the set?
Margaret: It was really super crazy! I guess as a writer, you constantly get the question, “Are you worried about the differences that will be made in order to translate it to screen?” I was actually more overwhelmed by the things that were the same. So much thought was put into creating this universe and the director and designers were so respectful of every detail. It was clear to us that they were working on something great!
Kami: Yes, the attention to detail was really incredible from everything from the costume design to the sets. When we first walked into Ethan’s bedroom, every single thing from the books on the shelves to the map on his wall was was just really accurate from the book.
What is your reaction when people say that Beautiful Creatures is the next Twilight?
Kami: Well, first of all, I loved Twilight! We have a lot of Twilight readers who love our books as well. But I do think the stories are very different — the adult characters in our story are much more pivotal to the plot. I guess you could say it’s a little more like Harry Potter in that way, without the wizards or the magical school.
Margaret: The truth is Twilight did this amazing thing — it didn’t just get people into the movie theatre, it got them into the bookstores! So Kami and I are forever indebted to Twilight because those fans are really a big reason that our book is popular.
After releasing the fourth (and final) book in the series last October, were you sad to see it come to an end?
Kami: It was very bittersweet. On one hand Margie and I knew this felt like the natural end and we knew where this story was going. But, at the same time, we’ve been writing these characters for five years, so we’ve become really attached to them and seeing it end was really sad. We could have made it go on and on but it didn’t feel natural to have that many books and this was the end of this particular story.
Margaret: It was horrible and wonderful all at the same time. It was very emotional and I think we all cried at some point! But it would have been way worse if the movie hadn’t been happening, so we’re grateful for that.
Can you give fans an idea of what to expect from the solo books that you’ll both be releasing this year?
Margaret: I’m very excited about my new book Icons (coming out in May). It’s a super emotional story about four teenagers in the future. It’s kind of a weird little story but I really love it!
Kami: My new book Unbreakable comes out in October. It’s about a girl who finds out her family is from a secret society that is tasked with protecting the world from a demon. It’s a paranormal romance with a bit of The Da Vinci Code mixed into it.