MTV’s “The Shannara Chronicles” will be different from the books it is based on, and author Terry Brooks has accepted that. The sci-fi/fantasy drama debuts on MTV Tuesday, and fans who read the books will notice some immediate changes. It still follows a trio of heroes – elf-human hybrid Wil (Austin Butler), elvin princess Amberle (Poppy Drake), and human rover Eretria (Ivana Baquera) – as they try to stop a demon army from destroying their world. However, fans of the first book in the series, 1982’s “The Elfstones of Shannara,” will notice some differences. But Brooks, who is an executive producer on the show, told International Business Times that he completely supports and even encourages changes to his work.
International Business Times: So are you excited to see your book come to life?
Terry Brooks: No, I don’t care. [Laughs] Yeah, of course I’m excited. I’m ecstatic about it. I’m mostly excited and ecstatic about it because it looks so good. Because the MTV people have put so much into this on their end and the acting is good. The scripts are great. I felt like I’ve had a role in the whole process and involved in writing the episodes. Not so much writing the episodes as editing and revising and working with the writers who did do the work. I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. I did not write the episodes. So all of that has made it a real special experience that I didn’t necessarily think was going to happen.
IBT: Were you nervous about signing over the rights?
Brooks: Oh, I’m always nervous about giving up everything – anything at all. I think writers feel like they get kicked to the bottom of the ladder a lot of the time. It’s not so much that way in the publishing world. There, the writer’s a little more high up in the echelon of things. But you always worry that when you let go of something, with people who don’t work in your medium, that somehow they’re going to wreck it. I think that’s a common theme among the writers that I know. But in this case, I felt like, right from the beginning I felt I had good rapport with the writers, the showrunners and that gave me a lot of confidence that it was going to go in the right direction.
IBT: So have they made a lot of changes to the original storyline?
Brooks: Well, yes, they have. Not a lot. They have made some changes. I worked with George Lucas on ["Star Wars: Episode I"] “The Phantom Menace.” So I did the book adaptation and he taught me a lot about adaptations and about giving. When he told me, “Why don’t you write some new stuff? Why don’t you make some changes? Don’t do the same thing.” And I thought, “Wow, that’s an enlightened view.” And I asked him about changing the dialogue cause the script was all done, and he said, “Nah, I don’t care. Go ahead, change it.” He said, “Keep the heart of the story intact.”
And that’s what I told [executive producers] Al [Gough] and Miles [Millar]. They told me, “Oh, we’re not going to change anything.” I said, “Yes you are. You go ahead.” I said, “You just keep the story at large intact. Don’t wreck the heart of the story, and you won’t hear a word out of me. I expect you to make changes.” It’s a different medium. It has to be adapted and in adaptations, changes have to be made. We don’t have an interior monologue 'cause it puts people to sleep. You know, we have to have things through dialogue and visuals. So you necessarily have to have some changes but they were good ones.
IBT: Can you tease what any of those changes are?
Brooks: Well, they started it differently. You’ll see that in the first episode. They decided that the choosing by the Tree of the Chosen was too boring. They are essentially right for a film. It has to be more movement. So the idea of the tree dipping its branch and touching them on the shoulder, each one, you know, how boring is that? While reading it is okay because you can do more with it, but visually, no. So they devised this race and the race determines who gets picked for the Chosen, and it's a test of strength and determination and so forth. I thought that was very clever, but they really did a lot of small things all along the way where they found better ways to present it cinematically than I had written it in the book for an adaptation. So that's the sort of thing that they did.
Watch a trailer for “The Shannara Chronicles” below:
IBT: What was your favorite thing to see come to life from the books?
Brooks: I don't think any one thing stands out. I think the scale of it is hugely impressive. This is a big, sweeping "Lord of the Rings"-type production, which I was not expecting. When I went on set, I was expecting 30 people walking around with a camera instead of 600. … This was just like a major filming experience. They translated that so well on the final episodes that you get to see, you get to experience, the size of everything, and of course, it's that kind of story that requires that.
“The Shannara Chronicles” premieres on MTV Tuesday at 10 p.m. EST.