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'Wayward Pines' TV boss Chad Hodge invites novel's author to compare notes

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Liane Hentscher/Fox

You’ve just seen the fourth episode of Wayward Pines. Which probably means you’ve seen the first three. And if you’re reading this, you want to know more. Is it fair to say we’ve lured you in? I don’t want to make any assumptions. But if any of the above is true, thank you.

That’s kind of how it works in the town of Wayward, too, huh? They lure you in.

Eventually, you settle down.

You make friends. A family. You find a good job.

Maybe Ethan Burke is actually doing exactly what “they” want him to be doing. Settling in with his family. Going out for burgers at the Biergarten. Becoming the sheriff. But in the end, he can’t accept this. He’s our hero. He climbs out. And then there’s a flash of a super creepy person/thing/creature/WTF watching him from behind a tree.

I won’t tell you what it is. You’ll find out next week. But if you’ve read the books by Blake Crouch, you know. And if you’ve read the books, you’ve probably noticed that these past two episodes have veered somewhat from Blake’s story. If I had strictly followed the plot of the first book (Pines), we would have arrived at “the truth” in episode 3.

I wanted to delay that reveal. Not for the sake of delaying it, but in order to dive further into our characters. To get more invested in the town before we find out what it really is. In the book, Ethan doesn’t find his wife and son in Wayward until after he’s found out the truth. And he learns they’ve been living in the town for five years. I changed the setup so Ethan’s family is experiencing the same thing and they’re as terrified as he is. Ethan has to protect them. I knew this could lay the groundwork for at least two new episodes’ worth of story.

You might be thinking… You just went and changed the story from the books?! What did Blake Crouch have to say about that?

Blake and I didn’t know each other before this project started. The first book was sent to me by producer Donald De Line a few months before it was published. I had a couple short phone conversations with Blake before I wrote the pilot script, but we didn’t talk much. Looking back, I think Blake and I both unconsciously assumed that the relationship between author and adapter had to be distant and scarce. An author doesn’t like when the adapter changes something. An adapter can’t stand how precious the author is. Right?

Three years later, I can tell you that nothing could have been further from the truth. Blake and I collaborated on the series in such an imaginative and invigorating way. But I don’t want to speak for Blake. So I’m sharing this file with him now so he can add to it himself (which is exactly how we work even when we’re in front of each other). Let’s see what he says.

BC: What’s up, Chad?!

CH: Blake! Be honest. Was it weird to let me adapt Pines?

BC: Yes, it was weird. It’s a scary, exhilarating thing to have your work adapted by someone else. There are so many ways it can go wrong or be a poor example of the underlying story. I was warned early on that I should be prepared for a “standoffish” relationship with you.

CH: Really? I have that reputation?! Or just like a standoffish relationship with anyone adapting your work?

BC: They said you especially :) I kid. They just said everyone is always freaked out by the writer of the source material, so I should be cool. Make no sudden movements.

CH: To be honest, I did think you would freak me out, but only because the content of the books made me think you would be a creepy motherf—er who never left his house.

BC: Good thing you didn’t read my first novel! The truth is, we hit it off immediately, so the wariness never really had a chance to set in. First time we spoke, I knew you understood this world, and then you delivered such an astonishing pilot script, I thought we actually might have a shot at getting this show made.

CH: I’m blushing. Thank you. But when I had to lay out the entire series, I had about a million questions for you. I memorized your phone number very quickly.

BC: Ha! In terms of our collaboration, I had just finished the second book, Wayward, as you were writing the show bible, which lays out the major beats for the 10 episodes. Most of our conversations weren’t so much about plotting, but how the town of Wayward Pines actually worked. Without getting into spoiler territory (and the audience will know SO MUCH MORE after next week’s huge reveal episode, “The Truth”), Wayward Pines is quite a unique place. There was a TON of thought that went into figuring out exactly how it ran on a day-to-day basis, both in the show and the books.

CH: And you co-wrote next week’s episode! The big reveal. I have to say, as much as I liked collaborating with you, I wasn’t sure you’d be able to adapt your own material into a television script. You did an unbelievable job. I can’t wait for people to see it.

BC: Me too!

CH: A question I often get is whether you’re okay with the differences between the series and your books.

BC: I get several emails a day from readers asking me that question, some version of “After episode 2, the show seems to head in a markedly different direction from the books. Are you okay with that?” And my answer is “Absolutely.” In fact, I love that the show does some things differently, introduces new characters, and follows new storylines. A 100 percent faithful adaptation of my books would’ve been boring, not only to me, but I would think to fans of the books. The show is always faithful to the spirit and tone of the story. The milestones and major characters are extraordinarily faithful. But I look at the differences between the books and the show as actually enriching and broadening the collective universe of Wayward Pines, which I see as a huge story told through books, audiobooks, and television. For those who’ve read the books, surprises await in the show. And fans of the show, when they (hopefully) pick up the books, will have plenty of new territory to discover.

CH: Absolutely. But I think we can agree that the mythology of this world, both in the books and the series, is the same.

BC: For sure. And if anyone has ever guessed the mystery of what Wayward Pines is (without reading the books or being told) I’ve never met them.

CH: Neither have I. I certainly couldn’t guess it. Before I got to the end of the first book I thought, There’s no way this creepy mother—er has an explanation for all this insanity.

Find us both on Twitter @chad_hodge @blakecrouch1