Why After Author Anna Todd Doesn’t Like Rereading The Series Almost A Decade Later

Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin in After
(Image credit: Voltage Pictures )

Anna Todd’s After franchise got its start in 2013 with the worldwide Wattpad community, as the author was a reader of fanfiction on the writer’s platform herself. Within the past decade of Todd’s whirlwind career, After has been published into a bestselling series of novels, adapted to movies starring Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin and, more recently, into a steamy graphic novel. Over the years, it seems as though the author’s opinions on the phenomenon have changed, especially considering her recent words about re-reading her work. 

When CinemaBlend spoke to Anna Todd about adapting After into a graphic novel, which just reached book shelves earlier this month, she spoke about her views on Tessa and Hardin’s relationship these days and how retelling the story in different mediums has allowed her to deepen the stories she first told in her early twenties. In Todd's words: 

I think people, especially people on the internet sometimes forget that we all have so many parts. And if Hardin and Tessa were real people, specifically Hardin, not to discount Tessa's trauma from her father, but Hardin specifically, I can really, really relate to his hard childhood. Sometimes I think people forget that humans are the product of their environment for the most part. And you don't know until you know, so I'm excited to kind of give that backstory to Hardin [further]. It was in the books, but I feel like it's just different. First of all, in a film visually and in the graphic novel to see why he is the way he is instead of just like, 'Oh, he's just a bad boy'. No, he's literally a traumatized teenager and he makes really bad choices.

Especially with the movies, Anna Todd’s After series has had the opportunity to build out Hardin and Tessa’s motivations. And yes, she’s aware they are not picture-perfect or always healthy. She also said this about working on After: The Graphic Novel

A lot has kind of changed in the way I view the story. I think, especially because it's been eight or however many years. Like eight years ago writing something and the content I was consuming, we were reading just a little bit differently. When I was rereading After for the graphic novel, I'm not a fan of rereading my own work. Some authors love doing it, but it’s the worst thing in the world for me, because I just want to change everything. Even if it's like stuff that people love, I'm still just like, 'Yeah, but it could be better.' And it was like my first series.

As you can imagine, Anna Todd has improved as a writer, and yet After is being regularly consumed by audiences. Todd doesn’t love re-reading her original series, just like we might not like seeing what outfits we wore eight years ago or the first drafts of projects before gaining more experience. Todd continued: 

Like for some reason Hardin always gets the like, 'Hardin is so awful,' but for some reason Tessa is always innocent, which she's definitely not. So we tried to kind of keep the balance in the graphic novels and somewhat in the film of her not being this perfect character because she's not. We've tried to bring out more in the graphic novels specifically and going forward, especially in the script for the next one, just to keep the balance in the relationship. And then there's some stuff that I'm just like, 'Ooh, we're not doing that in 2022. Not happening’. And no shame, readers can read whatever they want. Writers can write whatever they want, but there's just certain things that I'm not comfortable with that I wrote myself. So I'm like, yeah, we're gonna change that.

Anna Todd is not the same person she was who wrote the original After books, and she knows it. That being said, she still places a lot of love and care in forwarding the Afterverse with her first graphic novel, now available on Amazon. The author plans to adapt Tessa and Hardin’s love story in book form as the movie series is set to conclude later this year. 

During CinemaBlend’s interview with Todd, the author also got honest about not being part of the franchise’s planned sequel and prequel. Castille Landon’s upcoming After spinoffs are reportedly in the works, but that's where Todd gets “off the train,” per her words.   

The next After movie is After We Happy, which follows Tessa and Hardin’s cliffhanger last appearance in After We Fell. After We Happy is set to be among 2022’s upcoming movies, coming out this September 7. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.