By Danica Davidson
Fantasy books are big business, but only a few, like Game of Thrones, get made into TV shows. Now Fox has picked up the rights to The Magicians, a real-world fantasy story by novelist Lev Grossman. Grossman, who also recently published The Magician King, the sequel to The Magicians, told MTV Geek about the project and some of what we can expect.
MTV Geek: What is The Magicians about?
Lev Grossman: The Magicians is a book about what it's like to do magic in the real world, not in a fantasy world. The characters in The Magicians don't have archenemies to fight, or helpful sidekicks, or father-figures who guide them through their educations. They live in our world, the one that includes sex and alcohol and life and all the other complicated problems we know and love.
Geek: How did it get picked to be a TV show?
Grossman: That was a long process. After the book came out – that was two years ago – a lot of people were interested in developing it into a TV show. And I talked to all of them. That took a while. It took two years to find the right people, the ones who really got the book and wanted to do it justice on screen.
Geek: What do you hope they'll do with it?
Grossman: I hope they'll do it right. The core of The Magicians is this idea that you can tell a fantasy story – a story about somebody discovering they have powers they never knew they have, or finding their way into a secret hidden world – but tell it realistically, the way it would really happen. If they can do that, they'll have it right. And I know they can do it.
Geek: Any idea what we can expect?
Grossman: Yes. But I'm not allowed to say yet.
Geek: When will it start to air?
Grossman: If all goes absolutely smoothly, it will air next fall. And as we know, everything always goes absolutely smoothly.
Geek: Do you have any thoughts on actors you'd like hired?
Grossman: To be honest, what I would really like is to see this done with unknowns. I want people who don't look like actors – I don't want them all coiffed and glossed and airbrushed. I want them to look like people you know.
Geek: Will you be involved with writing, producing, or anything else in regards to the show?
Grossman: Right now I'm just hovering – they call it being a creative consultant. I'm consulting as hard as I can.
Geek: Do you watch any fantasy shows based on books, like Game of Thrones? Do you think the show The Magicians might take some inspiration from them?
Grossman: As a book, The Magicians definitely took a lot of inspiration from the Game of Thrones books (technically they're called A Song of Ice and Fire). I felt like I was trying to do for C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling what George R. R. Martin did for Tolkien. But I love Martin's books so much that I haven't watched the show. I'm waiting.
Otherwise there just isn't a lot of fantasy on TV, which is weird when you consider how big the audience is. I think that's one reason Fox optioned the book: there was nothing like it on TV. When I think of things on TV that would inspire The Magicians onscreen, I think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Sopranos. Smart, fun, thrilling takes on genres that you thought had already had all the fun beaten out of them. And the people who are making The Magicians are the same people that made Buffy, namely Fox. So that's not bad.
Geek: Will it stick with the story you've written, or go off in different directions?
Grossman: I could tell you, but a mighty curse would descend on us both.