For author Terry Brooks, it’s been a long road to seeing his Shannara fantasy books brought to life. But 38 years after the original book hit shelves, MTV is debuting a series based on the magical realm.
Ahead of the San Diego Comic-Con, EW spoke with Brooks about Shannara finally coming to TV screens, and what fans of the books can expect from the new series.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did this project came about?
TERRY BROOKS: The Shannara canon has been under option, on and off, for years, always with the idea that it would be a movie. About 10 years ago, I had this guy come up to me at a signing. He said, “I’d really like to represent you.” I said, “Fine. Go ahead and do something. Then report back.” So he did. This is Dan Farah. He basically put all of the pieces together over the years, particularly in the last couple of years with MTV and before that with Sonar Entertainment and with Al and Miles as writers. It’s going to be a TV show.
EW: Was it always going to be a TV show in your mind?
TB: This is something I always thought was a good idea because I think it needs more space. You’re talking about a 600-page-plus book. You really need a lot of space to sprawl all over and make it come in under three hours when you’re doing that.
EW: Did any of the other iterations come close to production?
TB: Lots of promises. Many people said how much they love those books, but it never got launched in any direction that mattered.
EW: What was behind the decision to start with your second book in the series?
TB: I’ve always thought Elfstones was the right choice. It’s the second book in the series. It’s probably the single most popular book. It’s the one I hear about most of the time, when readers are talking about the different books. The demographic is real strong. It’s good strong female characters, strong male characters. It’s got a love story. It just felt to me from the beginning that this was the one that should be the starting point. Luckily, everyone agreed with me, so that went along just fine.
EW: Were you able to visit the set at all?
TB: My wife and I were over there for about a week in February of this year. It gave us a chance to see how overwhelming huge this project was. I expecting a handheld camera, a couple of grips and a few trucks. When I saw how massive the project was, I thought, “Well, MTV is serious about this.” They really want to do something with this. That was very encouraging.
EW: What was it like seeing these characters you created come to life?
TB: I think you always have the fear that somehow it will be terrible. It was not. It was wonderful. It was great watching them. I watched them shoot several scenes … repeatedly. I think the adaptation is working out just as well as I could have hoped it would. You try not to get your expectations up too high, but I have to say, I’m pretty hopeful about this whole thing. I think it’s really good.
EW: Is the series a straight adaptation of Elfstones, similar to how Game of Thrones is adapted?
TB: Don’t mention Game of Thrones to me. We were saying, “We don’t want to go that route.” That’s not what the Shannara books are. They’re a family-oriented fantasy and always have been. That’s been one of the strong selling points. Anyone from 10 years of age up that has the reading skills can read these books. We’ve always talked about it as a family drama that anyone can watch. I thought of it as a straight adaptation. I told Al and Miles early on, “I know you’re going to have to make changes. Just hold the bones of the story together.”
EW: Was there ever any concern that this was an odd fit for MTV?
TB: This is the question that virtually every reader is asking. “MTV? Have you lost your mind?” I kind of like the idea of being first with something. I appreciated the strong pitch that MTV made for this and how willing they were to get behind it and support it, and that’s really what I was looking for, more than anything else. A commitment to the project. That was very persuasive to me, deciding that MTV was the right place for it. MTV is known for reinventing itself.