Romantic fantasy “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” based on a best-selling novel and starring Eric Bana, has grossed $60 million since its August launch, but one person who won’t be paying to see it is its author, Audrey Niffenegger.
“Once I signed away the rights I had just had to let go,” Niffenegger told The Associated Press during an interview in the London area of Highgate, the setting for new novel “Her Fearful Symmetry,” which was published this week.
“The advice of everyone who ever had this experience or been near was to just let go. Once you sign on the dotted line, you have no control. … I decided it would probably be best if I just did that.”
The movie stars “Hulk” actor Bana as Henry DeTamble — born with a genetic disorder that causes him to time-travel unpredictably — and Rachel McAdams as his much-suffering artist wife Clare Abshire.
Niffenegger said she was occasionally sent a copy of the script when Gus van Sant was being touted as director — it was eventually directed by Robert Schwentke — and she imagined “The Pianist” star Adrien Brody along with Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”).
She said, however, she originally wrote Henry’s character with Austrian artist Egon Schiele, who died in 1918 at the age of 28, in mind,
The book — which Niffenegger says she set out to write as “a beautiful love story with a nihilistic center” — has enjoyed a cult following, sold millions of copies and again tops the New York Times fiction list six years after its release.
Although billed by a divided audience as either romance or science fiction, Niffenegger said her original version was much darker as she never intended Henry and Claire to conceive a child.
“I realized that I was writing something so dark that no one would want to read it; even I didn’t want to read it,” she said.
“But once I decided they would have a daughter it brought a better balance of light and dark into the book.”
“Her Fearful Symmetry,” Niffenegger’s second novel, is a ghost story in which Highgate — in particular its Victorian cemetery — plays an integral part.
She is presently working on a third novel: Set in Chicago, it’s about a 9-year-old girl with hypertrychosis — excessive body hair — and has the working title “The Chinchilla Girl in Exile.”