Holes — Q&a with Louis Sachar and Andrew Davis, Author/Screenwriter and Director Why did you both choose to make Holes into a movie, and what were your biggest challenges? Andrew Davis



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Holes — Q&A With Louis Sachar and Andrew Davis, Author/Screenwriter and Director




Why did you both choose to make Holes into a movie, and what were your biggest challenges?
Andrew Davis: Like everybody who has read the book, we all loved it. The producer of the movie gave it to me, and I just got so excited reading it. My children loved it, and I just said this would be a good thing for me to do, a very different kind of movie. So, as a filmmaker I got to do the story of the Old Western town, Latvia, and the present story of the camp. It was a real challenge in that sense. And, I loved the fact that it had magic and mystery and all kinds of humor going on between the boys. But, the most important thing about it was that it was this great heartfelt story that was intelligent and didn't talk down to kids. It had something for everybody.

Louis Sachar: The hardest thing for me in writing a screenplay was learning to tell a story in pictures and not words. And, trying to understand what I wrote on the page, what that was going to look like on screen.

How much did your written story (or script) change from first copy to final copy?
Louis Sachar: I did five drafts for the novel, and since I was still making up the story as I wrote it, there were a lot of changes from the first draft to the last. The first draft is hardly even recognizable. It was different for the movie since I had already made up the story. That didn't change much. It was mainly just trying to figure out how to present it on the screen. That still took at least four drafts, with changes still being made on the day of shooting.

Louis, how did you go about getting your first book published? Andy, how did you become a director?

Louis Sachar: I wrote the book first, I didn't worry about getting published. I spent about a year writing Sideways Stories of a Wayside School, and then I made ten photocopies and sent it out to ten different publishers. And publishers take four to six months to get back to you so you could end up waiting years for a response. And one of them wanted it. I got a list of those publishers from the library in a book called Writer's Market.

Andrew Davis: My family is made up of actors and they were involved in theaters all their life. I studied journalism, which was writing and covering political events. And then I became a photographer, so writing and theater and photography and music, these are all skills and rhythms that have to do with being a director. I think the most important thing is the writing. Anybody who can write a story and express themselves they can make a movie out of it, a book out of it, or a play out of it. And I would suggest that anyone who wants to become a film director should learn all those skills that are involved in it, but writing is the real important part of it.

Where did you get the nicknames of all the characters? If you had to go to Camp Green Lake what nickname would you want?
Louis Sachar: I made up the names because I like the way they sounded, and because I thought they were funny. Nobody gets to pick his own nickname, not even me. It's up to the other boys in D-tent.

Were there any ideas in your first drafts that you couldn't keep in because of how they fit in with the story?

Louis Sachar: My initial idea was that the Warden would be the granddaughter of Kissin' Kate Barlow. I hadn't yet figured out who Kate Barlow was at that point. Possibly Kissin' Kate used poison lipstick, which was how the Warden got the idea for poison nail polish. That was before I created the Sam and Kate story. Once that story was created, I found I liked Kate too much for her to be related to the Warden, so I made the Warden related to Trout Walker instead.

How did you come up with the idea for the mountain, God's Thumb?
Louis Sachar: I wanted it to be a somewhat recognizable shape, so that when Stanley saw it he'd think it might be the same place his grandfather "found refuge." The idea for a thumb came from a rock formation near Boulder, Colorado. But I also wanted there to be some doubt about whether it was real, or whether his grandfather had some sort of religious or spiritual experience out in the desert, so I named it "God's Thumb."

Of all the things they could have eaten, why did you pick onions?
Louis Sachar: There are many myths about the healing properties of onions. I find something magical about them. And the layers of an onion, was symbolic of the many layers of this story. The story revealed itself as the layers were peeled away. And finally, I liked the fact that the idea of surviving by eating nothing but raw onions would make you smell really bad.

How do you deal with "writer's block"?

Louis Sachar: I just try to write something. Anything! Since I know I'm going to rewrite my books at least five times anyway, I don't worry if what I write isn't very good. If there is one idea, or one sentence worth keeping, then I've accomplished something. I'll fix the rest of it when I do the next draft. By then, I hope I'll have a better idea of what I want to write.


Sometimes when we go to the computer to write a composition we end up deleting it because we run out of ideas. How do you get the ideas for your books? Do you have any advice on how we can become better writers?
Louis Sachar: Yeah, I'm a lot like you, when I sit down to write, I think what am I going to write about, I don't have any ideas. But, I find the best ideas come while I'm writing. I may start with something and as I'm writing that leads to another idea, and then to another idea and that's the idea I get excited about. And then I go back and throw out those first two ideas, and I start with that new idea.
Andrew Davis: I think that trying to work from your life, from your own personal experience, things that you've been moved by emotionally, things that you're passionate about, those are good subjects to write from. Also, your fantasies. If you've read other books that have inspired you, emulate people.

Which character in Holes do you relate to best?
Louis Sachar: When you're writing you have to put yourself into the minds of every one of your characters and you have to put yourself in his or her shoes. But, I'd say that Stanley is probably the one I was most in tune with.
Andrew Davis: I think I was most interested in Mr. Sir because he was the big threat to the boys, he was the person who was going to push the story forward because the Warden doesn't show up until half way into the book and because of the way Jon Voigt made that character with that voice!

Louis, how do you feel as an author when other people read your work?

Louis Sachar: It always feels kind of special when I see someone reading my book on an airplane or something, but it's really hard for me to think in terms ... It's hard for me to think that thousands or millions of people are reading the book. It's beyond my comprehension and I usually just like to think that there are a few people out there reading my books.





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