Tuesday, February 27, 2007

And Then There Were Tie-In Writers

An interview I did with Lee Sheldon, Headwriter for a series of video games based on the works of Agatha Christie.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Kolchak: The Night Stalker Casebook

Recently I received my author’s copies of KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER CASEBOOK, a new anthology of stories featuring the character from the short-lived but iconic Seventies TV series. My story “Pirate’s Blood” is one of them, and I had a great time writing it. I recall watching the original made-for-TV movie THE NIGHT STALKER and its sequel THE NIGHT STRANGLER while I was in college. I was a regular viewer of the series, too. This was just my second experience at doing TV tie-in work (I wrote the three WALKER, TEXAS RANGER novels some years ago), and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I hope I did a good job of capturing Kolchak’s unique voice. The anthology also features stories by Robert J. Randisi, Gary Phillips, Rick Hautala, Christopher Golden, P.N. Elrod, and numerous other writers, and it looks like a fine collection, as was the first volume of Kolchak stories published by Moonstone Books KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER CHRONICLES. If you’re a fan of the TV show or of good mystery/horror yarns in general, I don’t think you can go wrong with either of these books.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Free Books!

Would you like to receive the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers' newsletter? We're going to have an on-going contest: Each month we're going to give away a free tie-in novel to two lucky winners drawn randomly from among our newsletter subscribers. To sign up, click here.

Proofs as Proof

Novelist John Connolly just got the page proofs for his new book THE UNQUIET:

It's always interesting to receive the proofs, as it's the first time that I get to see the book as it will look to the public, i.e. typeset, and no longer simply my manuscript. At that point, a transformation occurs in the way I view it. It is not just something that I rustled up on my computer. It's a book, and I judge it in a different way. I notice elements that perhaps I did not recognise before. I become more conscious of themes running through it, and I become aware, for want of a better word, of the 'feel' of the book.

I know exactly how he feels. I just finished going through the proofs for DIAGNOSIS MURDER: THE LAST WORD and I felt as if I was reading someone else's book. It didn't seem to have any connection to the "file" I emailed to my editor months ago. I was reading it fresh and I was surprised by some of obvious themes that ran that ran through the book...themes I wasn't even consciously aware of as I was writing it.

When I read the proofs, I find myself seeing the prose, the characters, and the plot differently than I did in the midst of working on the book. But most of all, reading THE LAST WORD, I was aware of a pace and rythmn to the story that I definitely didn't feel while I was writing it in bits and pieces, at different times and in different places (L.A., Germany, Palm Springs... and at my desk, on airplanes, in hotel rooms, in waiting rooms, in my car, etc.)

The term "proofs" has a double-meaning to me. Holding the proofs, I have evidence to convince myself that what I wrote is actually a book...it's the first time the story feels like a book to me instead of work.

Monday, February 19, 2007

One of These Kids Doesn't Belong Here...

As of right now, the books submitted for consideration in the Tie-In Writers Awards for the Category of GENERAL FICTION/BEST NOVEL (original) are:

CSI: SNAKE EYES by Max Allan Collins
CSI NY: BLOOD ON THE SUN by Stuart Kaminsky

Whenever I see the above list, I am tempted to regress to Sesame Street age (it's not that hard, I have three small children, at any given point in any given day, someone is screaming that they want to watch it) and hum, "One of these kids doesn't belong here/One of these kids isn't the same."

The kid in question would be me. Alina Adams, author of "Oakdale Confidential." Because, while all of the other titles are tie-ins to shows that feature stand-alone episodes with beginnings, middles and ends, mine came from the soap opera, "As The World Turns," a genre where a story actually coming to an end would mean, well, the end.

In that respect, all of the stories featured in the other tie-in novels could have conceivably happened in between the characters' other adventures. My characters have no in-betweens. They're on five days a week (sure, maybe my story could have been squeezed in on that rare weekend off, but it's kind of doubtful).

In addition, even the longest running show on the list, "Gunsmoke," only ran twenty years. "As The World Turns" celebrated fifty years on the air last April. (Hence, my use of the word "only" prior to "twenty years.") Even if the writers had been so motivated, they would have had "only twenty years," at most, of history to summarize. I had fifty. And some of my under 25 year old characters have already been married three times. Not to mention come back from the dead once or twice.

Finally, all of the other books carry bylines of real people. Even "Murder, She Wrote" is credited to Jessica Fletcher (not a real person) and Donald Bain (presumably a real person -- we've never met). Mine is credited to Katie Peretti (not a real person) WITH Alina Adams (I like to think I'm real but, as stated below, I have three children, so altered states of sleep deprived reality are not out of the question).

So, one of these kids isn't the same... But I'm still thrilled to have been allowed to join in the fun.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Beauty is in the Eye of the Tie-In Writer

When I write my non-tie-in books (currently a Figure Skating mystery series for Berkley), I may base my characters' appearances on real-life people, but, if I do it right, nobody should know exactly who is based on whom.

However, when I wrote "Oakdale Confidential," the tie-in novel to the soap opera, "As The World Turns," all of my lead characters were pre-defined. And they were played by real-life people, whom I actually even knew and saw on a regular basis.

This caused a bit of a dilemma when I had to describe the characters (actors) in the book. Especially when I had to do it in the less than flattering terms that the story dictated.

One character accused another of being a "dandelion bit of fluff dumb blond." Another accused a grandmother of dressing like a tacky, wannabe teen-ager.

In a novel where the characters aren't (openly) based on real people, this wouldn't be much of a problem. In a tie-in, however, I worried: What if the actors thought this was me criticizing their appearance, instead of one character ragging on another?

Fortunately, no Daytime Emmy nominee ever called to complain, or threatened me in a dark and stormy studio.

But, as they say in Russian (my first language): It's not evening yet.