Harry Potter film-makers option Hampstead author's beast books
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A Hampstead author's books about a carnivorous beast have won a major movie deal with the makers of the Harry Potter films.
Warner Bros acquired Jack Meggitt-Phillips' The Beast and the Bethany series, whose darkly comic world was partly inspired by the streets of NW3. Attached to the project is David Heyman, who produced both the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies.
And the 28-year-old has just released the second novel in the trilogy, The Revenge of the Beast, which follows a carnivorous beast, his reclusive 512-year-old host, and a rebellious prankster orphan, who refuses to be eaten.
The author told Ham&High: “The fact the producers of Harry Potter had read the book at all, I was thrilled. My first reaction was one of sheer disbelief.
"People usually see the film and say the book is better, but in this case they'll see the film and say the film was better than the book."
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With its tall buildings and cobbled streets, the world of Ebenezer Tweezer, Bethany, and the Beast, is loosely based on Hampstead where Meggitt-Phillips moved three years ago.
“It's such a beautiful place, the neighbourhood has this old-worldly feel. I imagine Ebenezer’s 15 story house is in some alternative parallel world of Hampstead where the neighbourhood is just as pretty, but there are carnivorous beasts roaming about the place."
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And the character of Ebenezer, who dedicates his life to feeding the beast in his attic in return for a potion that keeps him young and beautiful, was self-inspired.
“Ebenezer loves exotic teas, fabulous dressing gowns and bubble baths that go on for hours and that’s very much drawn from my interests”, said Meggitt-Phillips. But as an “insufferable goody-two shoes” he had to look further afield to his younger, more mischievous relatives as inspiration for Bethany.
The magical story has been compared to Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket, but threaded through it is a very real theme of friendship.
“It’s all driven by this incredibly unlikely friendship between the world’s most selfish man, Ebenezer, and the worst house guest imaginable, Bethany. I hope children take a message of friendship from the book, and if it inspired even one child to think more about others, I’ll be singing for joy."
The beast's only weak spot is trumpets and the author offers a tip on the precautions to take to avoid being eaten.
“If you are a child of Hampstead or Highgate, then carry a trumpet around with you at all times, and don’t be too badly behaved, or Ebenezer or the beast may come knocking”, he warned.
Bethany And The Beast is published by Farshore/Harper Collins