Judy Blume on the film adaptation of her novel Tiger Eyes

First aired on Q (13/8/13)

With popular novels like Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, Deenie and Iggie's House to her credit, author Judy Blume is well known for stories about childhood and adolescence that are both classic and controversial. She has covered sensitive subjects like religion, divorce, sexuality and death -- and over the decades since she first started writing, in 1969, her books have sometimes faced bans. Now the film adaptation of one of her early novels, Tiger Eyes, which she worked on with her son, Lawrence Blume, has hit movie screens. It's the story of Davey, a 17-year-old girl struggling to come to terms with her father's murder and her family's move to New Mexico.


Tiger Eyes is the first of her books to be made into a feature film. Seeing the finished product didn't come as a surprise to her since she was heavily involved in the project, she told Q in a recent interview. "I worked on it. Larry and I worked on the screenplay together, and we cast it together and I was on the set every day." The only surprise for her came from watching others' reaction to it. "It's a very emotional story. I don't want to say it's uplifting because that's so blah. But it's difficult and it's emotional, and people get emotional over watching it."

Her son directed the film, and Blume acknowledged that it was sometimes difficult to work together so closely. "You know it's going to be difficult, you're not always going to agree," she said, admitting that they had "one disagreement on the set." But they moved on. "Ask me about all the good stuff instead of the one bad thing." She laughed. "I'm a grown-up. I know who's king on the set, and it's not the writer."

When given the opportunity to film one of her books, Blume said she and her son both saw Tiger Eyes as the obvious choice. "It's the most visual of all of my books, and it's the one that spoke to Larry from the day that he read it."

It was only when she saw the film that Blume realized how much of her own life was in the story. Like her protagonist Davey, Blume was close to her father, and lost him at a young age, "the way Davey loses her father suddenly, although my father was not murdered, he died suddenly of a heart attack, and I was with him."

Teen fiction and children's books are popular in Hollywood, with the box office success of the Harry Potter series leading the way. When asked why her books haven't attracted any interest, despite being perennial bestsellers, Blume said that in fact she has been approached in the past. "I could have made deals. But I didn't, and I don't know, maybe I'm glad that I didn't."

Recently, Blume got involved in a campaign opposing the banning of The Perks of Being a Wallflower in a suburban Chicago school district. "The young people involved felt very strongly about having the book on the shelves of their school library," she said. "I just happened to be in Chicago with Tiger Eyes, and they waited around until after the screening to talk to me." They asked her to do a film clip in support of their campaign, and she obliged. "And they were successful in keeping the book in the school library."

Blume emphasized that it's important that young readers get involved when books are banned. "That means so, so much," she said. "I always tell them, if you love a book, if you care about a book, it's up to you to speak out, to make the adults who want to take this book away from you understand why it's so important."

Blume said she had advised people not to bring their children to see Tiger Eyes unless they were at least 12. But she was told of children who were only nine or 10 who got something out of the film. She related the story of one 10-year-old whose reaction to the story was "If Davey can get through what she had to get through, then I think she can get through anything in life."

Last year, Blume wrote a blog about her experience with breast cancer. "I wanted to tell the story myself. I didn't want the media to get a hold of it and put a spin on it," she explained, adding that she dislikes the tendency to use terms like "battling," and other war terms for cancer. "That's not what it is. You're dealing with it, you're coping, you do what you have to do. You get through it in any way that you can get through it. But I was never battling anything. I was just doing what needed to be done."

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