Yvonne Navarro is the author of 19 novels and nearly a hundred short stories. Her books have included original horror, suspense and science fiction work, as well as numerous movie and television tie-in projects. She lives in southeastern Arizona with her husband Weston Ochse and two huge Great Danes, Miss Chili Lily Beast and The Goblin Monster Dog. Here she talks about her experience writing the Elektra novelization. Many thanks to Ms. Navarro for the interview.
Kuljit Mithra: How did the Elektra writing gig come about for you?
Yvonne Navarro: Elektra was sort of a "gift"-- a friend of mine was originally offered the novelization but couldn't do it because of prior commitments and deadlines. He recommended me to the editor because of my background in martial arts and writing reputation.
Mithra: How well did you know Elektra and comics in general?
Navarro: Coming into this, I admit I knew very little about Elektra other than what I saw in the Daredevil movie. If I were writing something based solely on the comics, that wouldn't have been good, but since this was a follow-up to the =movie= _Daredevil_, that wasn't so bad. I augmented what I learned from the movie by talking to friends of mine who are very into comics, getting not only their insights on Elektra's character but their recommendations for reading material. I think it turned out well-- I learned a lot and had a great time doing it.
Mithra: Were you given a full screenplay, and if so, how detailed was it? What were your initial impressions of the screenplay?
Navarro: Yes, I was given the full screenplay, although as often happens, there were scenes in it that didn't survive the final cut. I liked the screenplay and had a lot of fun working off of it. Screenplays are never very detailed-- movies are action- and dialogue-oriented; they seldom have more than a couple of words of description regarding a set, and hardly ever describe a character's expression, body language, tone of voice, etc.
Mithra: When describing the characters, did you know who was playing whom, and did you ever have to go back and change them? How about describing their powers and how they eventually were portrayed on screen?
Navarro: I have to admit here that imdb.com was a great help-- I always use it when I'm working on a movie novelization because I like to know what my characters look like, if they have any mannerisms I can portray on paper, what their personality is like. I had to go back and change a few scenes as things went along and got changed around. That's fairly common because often there will be revised versions of the script. The script I received had about six different colors in it, each color denoting a different version.
Mithra: How was it to work with Fox, when compared to other companies' properties you've worked with (Hellboy, Buffy etc.)? Is it difficult to work with other companies' characters?
Navarro: Not that different. Buffy is also Fox, but there are different people working on different projects/properties. How difficult it is depends on the luck of the draw-- sometimes the licensor's reviewers realize that the movie doesn't have to be exactly like the book, while others, sadly, believe that the book isn't supposed to differ at all. I learned the hard way with a previous project that the writer needs to be very careful about changing or expanding on dialogue, so I generally just try to avoid that at all costs. We're usually encouraged to add scenes or backstory, as long as it doesn't change any of the scenes in the movie or, of course, the ending. I also was disappointed that this particular rep (or perhaps someone else involved in this project) would not allow me to do advance promo on the book. I'd posted the Prologue and the promotional bookcover, as well as a couple of images gleaned off the Internet, on my website and I was ordered to remove them. I put them back up when the movie came out. The easiest licensor/project as far as being completely happy with what I wrote was Hellboy-- they didn't make a single revision to the book.
Mithra: Did you visit the set at all, or did you have to rely on the screenplay for most of the locales?
Navarro: Nope, no Hollywood visits for me. (So sad.) Parts of the movie were, based on what was written in the script, set in California (and, believe it or not, Bogota), but I was asked to take out any reference that might pin the book down to one place, so I did.
Mithra: Any difficult scenes to write that come to mind?
Navarro: I wouldn't say difficult, but there were a couple of scenes where the licensor's representative disagreed with me. She was interpreting the script a different way and had the idea that, as I said before, the book and the movie should match exactly. There was also a scene that had to do with Japanese culture that as written in the original script would have been blatantly wrong. I won that one, but as it came out, both these scenes were cut from the movie anyway (although they do appear in the book).
Mithra: Why do you think the producers chose to modify or cut many elements from the screenplay... mainly the villains intros, Matt Murdock and the prologue/epilogue?
Navarro: I think a lot of this has to do with time. When you're dealing with film, time is money and for whatever reason, they needed the film to be x number of minutes long and so stuff was cut (or, for all I know, never even filmed). There wasn't much in the original script about Matt Murdock-- what was in the book, memories, etc.-- I added. I know there were a lot of rumors going around on the Internet that Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) and Bullseye (Colin Farrell) were going to make cameo appearances in the Elektra movie. I knew they weren't in the script but the Confidentiality Agreement I'd signed prevented me from saying so. I did think that maybe they might have a flashback or two from Daredevil, but they didn't.
Mithra: Anything thing else that you think Elektra fans would want to know that I've missed?
Navarro: Not that I can think of, other than I think the book is really good at making folks understand Elektra's character and her mindset.
Mithra: Finally, what's next for you in terms of novels and novelizations?
Navarro: Right now I'm working on finishing up the novelization for the Ultraviolet movie starring Milla Jovovich. The movie is in post-production and was scheduled for 2005, but has been postponed until 2006. I'm looking forward to finishing it-- to be honest, I'm itching to get back to original work again, my own characters and settings, my own plots instead of someone else's ideas. I've been doing only novelizations for way too long. I have a young adult dark fantasy novel (called _The Legend of Raison and Jacket_) that I'm working on with my husband, who has been very patient in waiting for me to do my part. Fans have been asking me for some time to do a sequel to _AfterAge_ (my apocalyptic vampire novel); I started it and put the Prologue to it (called _Red City_) in the Overlook Connection's edition of _AfterAge_, so that's still waiting. I also have a fully outlined suspense novel called _Die With Me_ that I'd like to write. So many ideas, so little me! Folks can keep up to date by checking my website at www.yvonnenavarro.com.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 2005
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear
Jose Guns Alves
Black and White
Roberto De La Torre
Carmine Di Giandomenico
Tommy Lee Edwards
Elektra Hand Devil
Fall From Grace
Justin F. Gabrie
Devin K. Grayson
John Patrick Hayden
Alex Irvine & Tomm Coker
Mark Steven Johnson
Lauren Mary Kim
Ryan K. Lindsay
Vatche Mavlian &
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Suzanne H. Smart
Stephen D. Sullivan
Lee Weeks (2)
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