Andrzej Sapkowski's got a new Witcher book on the way, which means he's out and about being his usual scorchingly, wonderfully honest self on the interview circuit. Most recently, he's been at Vienna Comic Con, where he chatted with Austrian gaming website Cerealkillerz about writing (don't do it), videogames (he doesn't play them), and the Netflix Witcher TV series (they didn't listen to him).
"Maybe I gave them some ideas," Sapkowski said when asked if he ever gave Netflix feedback on the show, "but they never listened to me." Emitting what I can only describe as a kind of cackle, Sapkowski repeated "they never listen," before giving an impression of a Netflix exec irritatedly asking "Who's this? It's a writer, it's nobody," and dismissing Sapkowski with an airy wave of the hand.
Well, I suppose that explains how Netflix's Witcher came to be—in the words of PCG's Robert Jones—"truncated, tonally different and simplified from the source material," but at least Sapkowski doesn't seem at all bitter about it. "It's normal, it's normal," Sapkowski assured viewers, and took the time to note that Netflix's set for the show was "tremendous." I have to imagine the royalties help things like this go down a little smoother.
So if you're wondering why Netflix's Witcher doesn't quite capture the same vibe as Sapkowski's books, there's at least one of your answers. It's a shame, if you ask me. I'd be very curious to see what a version of the show that drew more influence from Sapkowski looked like, and I can't help but remember that some of Game of Thrones' best episodes—before it all went very wrong indeed—were written by George RR Martin himself.
Not that I think Sapkowski would be very keen to sit down and write a TV show himself. The man's chief love is clearly for novel writing, and even then he sounds laudably committed to kicking back and relaxing whenever he has the opportunity. In fact, he had some advice for budding young writers: "Learn something that is worth doing. For example, repairing computers. That makes money. Forget about writing, it's [a] hard business."
Cerealkillerz also bravely asked the author, who can be a tad grouchy when it comes to the phenomenally popular Witcher games, if he ever played videogames himself. "Never," answered Sapkowski, "I have no time for this, and it's not entertainment for me. No… I never played it and I do not intend to play it." That's that, then.
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One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.