My novel THE LAST WORD is coming out next week... it's the eighth and final book in my tie-in series based on DIAGNOSIS MURDER, a show I also wrote and produced. Reviews are starting to come in and some fans/critics are surprised and a bit shocked by what I wrote. Some have called it "too dark."
I don't think it's any darker than THE PAST TENSE (#5) or THE DOUBLE LIFE (#7)...the other books in what I like to think of as an "unofficial" trilogy. It was certainly my intent with THE LAST WORD -- as well as PAST TENSE and DOUBLE LIFE -- to explore, as deeply as I could, Dr. Mark Sloan and to make him more than just a one-dimensional TV character, a "doctor who solves crimes." Over those three books, and to a lesser degree in THE SHOOTING SCRIPT (#3), I was intentionally confronting/deconstructing the ridiculous conceits of the series in a backwards attempt to make the implausible, underlying concept more believable and, by extension, the characters more real. I know that sounds pretentious, but I like to think that's what made these books read more like novels than simply knock-offs of a TV show...and why I was lucky enough to enjoy so much critical praise for them.
If I ever decide to do more DM books, the resolution of THE LAST WORD opens the door to go in a new direction which...after being involved in four seasons of DM as a writer/producer and as the author of eight books...I am ready to do. I think I have taken this particular format and these relationships about as far as they can go.
I'm curious to know what you think. Is THE LAST WORD a fitting end for the series? Or did I go too far?
An author I know was recently taken to task by a disgruntled fan because a character in a tie-in novel mentioned visiting the Grand Canyon when, in a recent episode, the same character said he'd never been there. My author friend was surprised that a fan would care about such an insignificant detail. I agree with my friend...especially if you are writing book based on an on-going TV series. It's virtually impossible for the books and the series to not contradict each other over little details. Publishing can't keep up with production...in the time it takes for my finished MONK manuscript to reach the stands, an entire new season of MONK has been written and shot. I have no control over the content of the episodes that are conceived, written and produced after I have written my book. Which is why I added the following disclaimer to my Monk books:
"While I try to stay true to the continuity of the TV series, it's not always possible, given the long lead time between when my books are written and when they are published. During that period, new episodes may air that contradict details or situations referred to in my books. If you come across any such continuity mismatches, your understanding is appreciated."
Bottom line, it's fiction. We are sharing characters in two very different mediums. The fans have to understand that these are characters in a fictional world...and relax.