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Industry Update – Adapting Bitten: From Book to Television

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Bitten was the focus of a panel discussion at the 2013 Canadian International Television Festival, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. I had the opportunity to ask executive producers Daegan Fryklind and J.B. Sugar about the show. The Bitten panel included castmembers Greg Bryk, Joel Keller, Michael Xavier, Paulino Nunes, and Steve Lund, and was hosted by InnerSPACE‘s Ajay Fry and Morgan Hoffman.

Cameron Archer: This one would be for Daegan and J.B. Sugar. How closely did you work with Kelley Armstrong in adapting the [Women of the Otherworld] book series to this show?

J.B. Sugar: Kelley was involved in the early stages a lot more heavily, when Daegan delivered her first couple drafts of the first and second episode scripts, as well as the show bible. I think the best news for us, as creatives adapting her work, was to have her kind of give us her blessing and say “Daegan really got the world, and the voices, and the characters”…I  think that was an amazing blessing to get, and let us move forward with confidence. (whispers to Daegan Fryklind) Expand.

Daegan Fryklind: And then Kelley did come to set, also, and met the writing team, and took a tour of Stonehaven, and our standing sets, and loved it. As J.B. said, to get her stamp of approval was really an honour. She was extremely busy during our production season with her newest novel, and touring a lot, so…

Steve Lund: (attempts a menacing tone) Omens. Check it out.

Fryklind: …but would throw us a lot of good feedback on Twitter, which was great.

Sugar: Random House Canada’s about to re-release Bitten in a new edition, and there’s a nice little burst on the cover, giving some props out to the show, saying “coming to Space”.

Morgan Hoffman (InnerSPACE): Cool!…[Women of the Otherworld is] such a beloved book series, and there’s numerous books within it. What would you say were the biggest challenges in adapting [the series] to a TV show?

Sugar: I’m sure Daegan has the right answer…Bitten the first season of the show follows closely to the plotline of Bitten the novel. The Otherworld series kind of jumps in time, and goes into backstory. I think the challenge was to take this wealth of mythology, and backstory, and character that needed to be crafted into a narrative that would work for the medium of TV. That’s something that Daegan and our writing team just did so brilliantly, so I’ll let her expand on that.

Fryklind: The novel itself also stays very closely to Elena [Michaels]’ P.O.V. – that’s internal monologue. In adapting the novel to a series, I had to really blow out character arcs for (refers to male cast attending CITF panel) each of these fellows, so that they had their own storylines, and so that when we were coming away from Elena to other storylines, we had B-plots and C-plots. We sorta blow out the world, blow out their valley, and create characters there, and Toronto, and Philip [Madden]’s world, and his family, and just give everyone their own throughline, and their own want and need throughout the first season.

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