I wrote a book.

I’m not sure how many screenplays I’ve written. At least 30. Maybe 50.

I have ten produced credits, so that means a lot of unmade movies. As much as I love screenwriting, it’s like being the architect for a bunch of buildings that may never get built. Screenplays are transitional documents, plans for making the “real” thing.

Novels, however, are the real things. Even if they’re later adapated into movies or TV shows, the books themselves are finished works. They’re permanent in a way screenplays could never be.

So in between other projects, I decided to write one. And now it’s getting published.

Here’s the key bit from the press release:

Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, has signed a 3-book deal for a new middle grade series by award-winning screenwriter John August, who counts Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Go among his credits.

In the first book in the series, Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire, set to be published in early 2018, readers are introduced to Arlo Finch, a young boy who joins a mountain scouting troop and discovers that his fellow campers are not just training in outdoor survival—they are also learning to harness the wild magic that lies deep within the forest. Through treacherous adventures and close calls, Arlo is awakened to his unique destiny and the foundations of the Rangers’ Vow: loyalty, bravery, kindness, and truth.

As a screenwriter who frequently gets sent these kinds of books to adapt, it’s been fascinating to see the other side of the business. I’m asking a ton of questions. I’ll be sharing what I learn here and elsewhere.

Since middle grade fiction readers are not the core demo of this site, I’ve also set up a Tumblr at arlofin.ch that’s just about the book — and is more kid-and-parent friendly.

If you’re curious about the behind-the-scenes of writing and producing the series, I’ll be starting a sporadic newsletter with updates and sneak peeks along the way. More details soon.

Huge thanks to Jodi Reamer, my agent at Writers House, and my editor Connie Hsu for making this happen. It’s going to be a busy couple of years, but I’m looking forward to the journey ahead.

Duly Noted: Let’s Talk about Episode 259

Scriptnotes: Ep. DN 1

Matt Selman (EP of The Simpsons) sits down with Scriptnotes favorites Aline Brosh McKenna and Rawson Marshall Thurber to discuss what went down in the season finale.


You can download the episode here.

The Exit Interview

Scriptnotes: Ep. 259

In the season finale of Scriptnotes, John and Craig reveal big changes to the podcast.

After five years, a much-loved supporting character is leaving the show. We look back at his time with us, what he learned and what he’ll take with him to his new screenwriting adventures.

Meanwhile, one of the hosts is leaving Los Angeles entirely. We discuss what’s taking him to a different time zone and the impact it will have on the show.

Finally, a fresh voice joins the podcast, bringing an international flavor and a name worthy of NPR.

If all these changes sound scary, please be assured we’ll be back next week with the start of a new season.


You can download the episode here.

Generic Trigger Warning

Scriptnotes: Ep. 258

John and Craig take a look at three new entries in the Three Page Challenge, with scripts tackling kidnapping, dystopia and parkour hackers. We look at both how the writing works on the page, and what the writers seem to be trying to say.

We also answer listener questions about the increased visibility of characters with disabilities on screen, and the differences between the two WGAs.


You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 7-18-16: The transcript of this episode can be found here

Running the length of Malawi

Malawi MapIn 2007, Ryan Reynolds and I visited Malawi, a land-locked country in southern Africa, where we helped out with a group that runs day centers for thousands of orphans.

Since then, I’ve kept up with the organization, helping to build a secondary school and medical clinic.

Marathoner Brendan Rendall is currently running the length of the country to raise money to build a new wing for the secondary school, which is bursting at the seams. The block will include two science labs, an art room and a general classroom.

Brendan is running 650 miles. That’s 25 marathons back-to-back.

You can follow his progress on this map1 and see photos from the run on Facebook with the hashtag #runmalawi.

The school and related programs are run by Friends of Mulanje Orphans, which is one of the best charities I’ve ever enountered. Over the years, it has supported a generation of kids who are now helping run the program.

I’d urge you check out their great work and donate to Brendan’s campaign.

  1. If you zoom in on the map, you can find Mulanje south-east of Blantyre.

Flaws are features

Scriptnotes: Ep. 257

Craig and John look at unforgettable villains, screenwriter billions, and a parallel world with two Nathan Fillions. (The last part is not true.)

We also dig into more about magical dad transformation comedies and why there isn’t a female equivalent.


You can download the episode here.

UPDATE 7-8-16: The transcript of this episode can be found here.