By Ann Byle
The DVD edition of Beverly Lewis’ “The Shunning” released this week. The Hallmark Channel Original Movie premiered on April 16 starring Danielle Panabaker and Sherry Stringfield. This is what Lewis had to say about the film, the second made from one of her books (the first was “Saving Sarah Cain”). “The Shunning,” published in 1997, is Lewis’ first adult novel and loosely based on her grandmother’s story.
Dove: How much did you get to participate in making the movie?
Beverly: Quite a bit. I approved of the script, gave ideas for authenticity for the wardrobe, and other things.
Dove: Did you connect with executive producers Brian Bird and Michael Landon, Jr.?
Beverly: I appreciate them because of their hearts; they are committed Christians and they definitely have a mission and a vision. Michael and Brian were very interested in all of my novels; they wanted to start with something that juxtaposed the rural Amish with the city—I’m talking about “Saving Sarah Cain” now. With “The Shunning” they wanted to juxtapose the pull of a young Amish girl toward the world and what she would do with that. The clash of the cultures is very fascinating for modern Englishers. There is conflict everywhere, which viewers love, plus a strong spiritual theme.
Dove: What do you think of the movie?
Beverly: The movie certainly gives life and breath to a character that is so dearly loved by millions of readers, and now millions of viewers. They have been pleading for the DVD to come out. What I’ve seen and heard is that Hollywood changes books around quite a bit for the film. But I remember talking to Brian, and he said, “Your book reads like the script that we want.” They really did follow it very closely. I’m pleased, and I think my readers are pleased too.
Dove: What were your feelings when you first saw the movie?
Beverly: My husband and I watched the uncut version and there were a number of times I had tears. It was so poignant and so filled with passion and angst. Michael captured not only the essence of the story but also the innuendo. It was tenderly, beautifully done. I’ve now seen it four or five times. Every time I see it I see new things. I see layers, little nuances that are touching and interesting.
Dove: What feedback have you gotten from viewers?
Beverly: So many people said that when the movie first came out, they immediately wanted to know when it would air again. They didn’t want to watch it twice, but three or four times. On my Facebook page, people are saying they want to own the DVD so they can watch it over and over.
Dove: How does the Dove Foundation endorsement help the movie?
Beverly: I’m so pleased the Dove Foundation is endorsing the movie. People trust the Dove Foundation and my readers trust me. The movie is wholesome, it’s family. I’ve heard from nine-year-old girls and 80-year-old men, the whole gamut. Families watch it together, teenage girls love it. The Dove Foundation endorsement is fabulous. What’s not to love about that?
Dove: What are you working on now?
Beverly: My book “The Mercy” came out Sept. 6. It’s Book 3, the last in the Rose Trilogy. And I just started writing the first book in a new series called Home to Hickory Hollow. Hickory Hollow is the setting for “The Shunning.” This book comes out in April 2012. I planned the Hickory Hollow connection because I had some story ideas I wanted to explore. Beloved characters make cameos and are involved in subplots
Dove: What about a sequel to Hallmark’s “The Shunning?”
Beverly: They are hoping to do a sequel. My fans are screaming for the sequel, so there is a lot of talk going on between Hallmark and Michael Landon, which I think is going to be positive. Hallmark is definitely listening strongly to the pleas.
Ann Byle is a freelance journalist with hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles to her credit. She is also coauthor of “Soul Surfer Devotions” with surfer Bethany Hamilton and “The Edge of Redemption” with hip-hop pastor Troy Evans.