Utah writer Shannon Hale will be on hand to take questions from the audience at two special screenings of her film "Austenland" this weekend at the Broadway Centre Cinemas.

The film, co-written by Hale and Utah director Jerusha Hess and based on Hale's 2007 novel of the same name, debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and follows Jane Hayes (Keri Russell), a passionate fan of Jane Austen who travels to England for an immersive Regency-era experience.

Hale will participate in two post-screening Q&As at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. She will also give brief remarks and an introduction to the 9:10 screenings on those days. More information can be found at the Salt Lake Film Society website and tickets can be purchased in advance here. The Friday 7 p.m. screening has already sold out.

But before she shares her film with Utah audiences, Hale chatted with The Deseret News about seeing her story come to life and the "wonderful weirdness" of Austen fans.

Deseret News: "Austenland," the book, was first published in 2007. When did the movie begin coming together?

Todd Williamson/Invision for Sony

Shannon Hale: In 2007, (Twilight author and Austenland producer) Stephanie Meyer, who is a writer friend, we were talking about what fun it would be to make it into a movie. “We’ll just rent a camcorder and go to England and rent a house and make the movie and ha ha ha, it will never happen.”

Then two years later, I met Jerusha Hess who I didn’t know was a fellow Utahn and she’d read some of my books and we went to lunch and I gave her 'Austenland.' She called me 24 hours later and said “let’s make this into a movie.”

The next day Stephanie called me and said, “I know we used to joke about it, but I really do think 'Austenland' would be a great movie,” and I said, “It’s so funny because Jerusha Hess just called me and wanted to make it into a movie.”

That was 2009 and we got together, the three of us, and started making plans and Jerusha and I started writing the screenplay together and then we shot it in 2011.

>> Executive Producer Stephenie Meyer, Director Jerusha Hess and writer Shannon Hale are seen at Sony Pictures Classics "Austenland" Los Angeles Premiere, on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013 in Los Angeles.

Giles Keyte

DN: It debuted at Sundance where it was acquired by Sony Pictures Worldwide. What was that experience like?

>> A scene from "Austenland," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Danny Moloshok/Invision

SH: It was amazing. I’ve published a dozen books or so and I get fan mail and I get word back from people that they love the book, which is lovely, but I’m never there in the room experiencing it when someone reads one of my books. It was amazing to be in the theater, to be in this room with 1,500 people and to hear them laughing at the lines that I wrote, laughing at the story that I wrote. Everybody is laughing in the theater and I’m just crying because it was really moving for me to hear their reactions.

It was surreal, and overwhelming and one of the most gratifying experiences of my career.

>> From left to right, Sundance Festival Director John Cooper, writer Stephanie Meyer, novelist and screenwriter Shannon Hale, Ricky Whittle, JJ Feild, Keri Russell, director Jerusha Hess, Bret McKenzie, Jane Seymour, and James Callis pose together at the premiere of "Austenland" during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 in Park City, Utah.

Giles Keyte

DN: It has a very impressive cast (including Russell, Jane Seymour, Jennifer Coolidge and Bret McKenzie) what was it like watching those actors bring your characters to life?

>> A scene from "Austenland," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

SH: That was probably my favorite part of the entire experience. I was on set for the filming in England and it was amazing how often the scene was playing out in front of my eyes exactly as I had imagined it. I felt like I was in 'Austenland.'

>> JJ Feild as Mr. Henry Nobley, Bret McKenzie as Martin and Keri Russell as Jane Hayes in "Austenland."

Victoria Will/Invision/AP Images

DN: I think Jane Seymour breaking the fourth wall while holding a lamb is one of the best film intros I’ve ever seen.

>> Jane Seymour from the film "Austenland," poses for a portrait during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at the Fender Music Lodge, on Friday, Jan. 19, 2013 in Park City, Utah.

SH: I love it, yeah. It's so funny because the film was so collaborative. I feel like reading is collaborative but it’s just the author and the reader collaborating to make a story together.

But with a film, it’s so many people that are involved. For example that opening scene, I wrote the words that (Seymour) said and Jerusha directed her to speak and you let the camera shots change which makes it funnier and Jerusha worked with the production designer who decided to populate the estate with all those taxidermied animals, which is just bizarre.

The design of the whole office is so funny. You can’t tell, but there’s so much detail in every set. In that room, Jane Seymour actually brought some Jane Seymour dolls that had been made who knows when, maybe during Dr. Quinn, and the art department refitted them into little bonnets and regency dresses.

>> JJ Feild as Mr. Henry Nobley and Georgia King as Lady Amelia Heartwright in "Austenland."

DN: I think it’s fair to say there’s a few Jane Hayes in Utah. Were you ever worried some Austen fans might feel made fun of?

>> This undated publicity photo provided by the Sundance Institute shows Keri Russell, left, and JJ Feild, in a scene from the film, "Austenland."

Giles Keyte

SH: Yeah, I was worried that it could be misunderstood that way. But because I’m an Austen fan and Stephanie is an Austen fan and Jerusha is an Austen fan, it felt like it was coming from an honest place.

I find the same thing with the Hess’s movies. I think people misunderstand and think that Nacho Libre, for example, is mocking Mexicans or that Napolean Dynamite is mocking rural Idaho culture. But if you know the Hesses and if you love the films, the interpretation is very different. It’s a celebration of the wonderful weirdness that you can find in different places and there’s no disrespect at all. It’s the exact opposite, it’s why aren’t we celebrating these people, why aren’t these people getting front and center in films?

>> The cast of "Austenland" includes Jennifer Coolidge, left, James Callis, Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Georgia King and Ricky Whittle.

DN: You’re a prolific author so you’re no stranger to book reviews, but this is your first screenwriting credit. Have you been reading the reviews of the film?

>> Keri Russell as Jane Hayes in "Austenland."

SH: My husband made me stop, but I had read a number of them. It’s always hard to hear negative reviews and it’s always hard when you’ve worked on something and people don’t like it.

The ones that just don’t like it, it’s not their cup of tea, never bother me because you can’t do something that’s going to be right for everybody. But the ones that really just missed the boat, and tried to attribute some malicious intent or thoughtlessness on our part, those were the ones that really just bug me because I want to defend myself and say ‘no, no, you’re totally misunderstanding. No, that’s not it at all.’

I feel like there's been enough out there though of people that did get it and did appreciate it that there's a balance. The New York Times is never going to love us. Comedies are hard because humor is so individual. Either it's funny to you or it's not and I can respect that because there's a lot of comedy movies that I just do not think are funny.

But also theres a lot of disrespect for anything that is perceived as being feminine. Romances, romantic comedies especially, are seen as feminine and they're always going to get less respect than a drama or an action movie.

It would horrible if everybody slammed it. The New York Times just could not hate it enough, but USA Today had a lovely piece, Village Voice had a lovely piece, Salon had a lovely piece, so it is really gratifying that there are some people that said, "yeah, we get it." And then the fan reaction has been huge.

>> Keri Russell as Jane Hayes in "Austenland."

DN: The movie opened last weekend in select markets and is making its way across the country. Is it nerve-wracking as more and more people get exposure to the film?

>> This undated publicity photo provided by the Sundance Institute shows Keri Russell, left, and Bret McKenzie, in a scene from the film, "Austenland,"

Todd Williamson/Invision for Sony

SH: It is. You want to just see how it does and get it out all at once, but everything has been very slow with this movie starting at Sundance and seeing if it’s going to be purchased and inching forward to a limited release and then a platform release. There’s still a lot of question marks. When you have an independent movie they want to test the waters in different markets to see how it does. Hopefully if it does really well where it’s being released then it will be released even wider and wider.

>> Executive Producer Stephenie Meyer, Writer Shannon Hale, Director Jerusha Hess and Bret McKenzie are seen at Sony Pictures Classics "Austenland" Los Angeles Premiere, on Thursday, August, 8, 2013 in Los Angeles.

DN: What’s next for you?

>> Bret McKenzie as Martin and Keri Russell as Jane Hayes in "Austenland."

Todd Williamson/Invision for Sony

SH: I’ve got so much stuff going on. I have 6 books coming out in the next year, which is insane, I usually have a book a year.

I would love to do another 'Austenland' book. I would love to do another screenplay with Jerusha but I’ve just been so busy and she’s been so busy.

I’ve got a book coming out in October called Ever After High. I’ve got a science fiction young-adult superhero novel coming out in April called Dangerous and then several more after that. I’m writing, I’ve got four little kids so I’m being a mom and writing and hopefully we’ll do another screenplay soon.