| 11.2°C Belfast

Little Fires Everywhere author on adapting her best-selling book for TV

Celeste Ng worked alongside series stars Reese Witherspoon and Kerri Washington.

Close

Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon star in the Amazon thriller Little Fires Everywhere (Erin Simkin/Hulu/PA)

Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon star in the Amazon thriller Little Fires Everywhere (Erin Simkin/Hulu/PA)

Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon star in the Amazon thriller Little Fires Everywhere (Erin Simkin/Hulu/PA)

Little Fires Everywhere author Celeste Ng has revealed why she decided against writing the TV adaption of her best-selling book and explained her role as akin to a “tuning fork”.

The acclaimed 2017 novel has been turned into an equally lauded series starring Hollywood actresses Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, both avowed fans of Ng’s work.

Like the book, the TV adaption is set in the late 1990s in the quiet Ohio town of Shaker Heights, where the author grew up.

Close

Little Fires Everywhere — “The Spark” Episode 101 — The picture-perfect lives of the Richardson family are upended by the mysterious arrival of artist Mia Warren, and her daughter, Pearl, in Shaker Heights, OH, an idyllic town founded on the utopian principals of harmony and order. Egged on by her guilty conscious, do-gooder Elena rents to the mother-daughter duo and encourages her younger son Moody to befriend Pearl, irrevocably intertwining the fates of the two families. Elena (Reese Witherspoon), shown. (Photo by: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

Little Fires Everywhere — “The Spark” Episode 101 — The picture-perfect lives of the Richardson family are upended by the mysterious arrival of artist Mia Warren, and her daughter, Pearl, in Shaker Heights, OH, an idyllic town founded on the utopian principals of harmony and order. Egged on by her guilty conscious, do-gooder Elena rents to the mother-daughter duo and encourages her younger son Moody to befriend Pearl, irrevocably intertwining the fates of the two families. Elena (Reese Witherspoon), shown. (Photo by: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

Hulu

Little Fires Everywhere — “The Spark” Episode 101 — The picture-perfect lives of the Richardson family are upended by the mysterious arrival of artist Mia Warren, and her daughter, Pearl, in Shaker Heights, OH, an idyllic town founded on the utopian principals of harmony and order. Egged on by her guilty conscious, do-gooder Elena rents to the mother-daughter duo and encourages her younger son Moody to befriend Pearl, irrevocably intertwining the fates of the two families. Elena (Reese Witherspoon), shown. (Photo by: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

It begins with the home of Witherspoon’s character burning down in a suspected arson, one of several small fires sparking a story exploring class, race and privilege.

While authors often take charge of adapting their books for the small screen – including Sally Rooney, who co-wrote the screenplay for Normal People – Ng decided against being so hands-on and compared the adaption to a cover song.

She said: “I didn’t want to be the screenwriter myself, because I think I would be the wrong person to adapt my own work. I can’t see it in another way. But they brought on people who I think were all looking at the project in the same way.

“And so I got to be sort of their tuning fork. They’d think about what they wanted to do. And they’d come to me and say, ‘here’s our idea – what do you think about that?’ and kind of see if it was, if not the same note, then harmonising with what I wanted to do in the book, and pretty much it always was.”

NG added: “I’ve been comparing it to a cover song. You want to hear familiar melodies and the same words, but you also do want the new band’s take on it or else why don’t you just listen to the old one?

“And so I came in really with the attitude of, you know, there are going to be some changes because this is screen, it has to be somewhat different.”

Little Fires Everywhere is on Amazon Prime Video now.

PA