Monday, January 12, 2015

Writer's Dream or Nightmare? On Taking the Story from the Page to the Screen

By now those of you who read cozies (especially food related ones) are aware that author Joanne Fluke's "Hannah Swensen" series is coming to the small screen sometime this spring. "Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder" is going to be made into a Hallmark television movie with Alison Sweeney playing the role of Hannah.


I'm fairly certain that Joanne's initial reaction was a crazy little happy dance. And I'm certain that it doesn't matter if it's small screen or big screen, knowing that someone wants to take your story, your characters and put them out there as living and breathing characters living the story is a thrill that perhaps many authors dream of. If you're not familiar with Alison Sweeney, here is a picture of who will be playing Hannah Swensen:



If you're at all familiar with the books, it's quite probable that you took one look at Ms. Sweeney and said, "She's supposed to by Hannah??" Even the author, Joanne Fluke, said, "With curly red hair and a few extra pounds, I think she'll make a great Hannah!"

What does an author really feel when the character they've created and lived with for so long is suddenly transformed by a movie or TV producer or director's vision into someone he or she doesn't recognize? I think this question has been asked ever since Agatha Christie saw Margaret Rutherford cast as Miss Marple ("To me, she's always looked like a bloodhound.") And I have to admit, I never could see Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot (maybe because, in my head, I heard him as Prince John in Disney's "Robin Hood"?)


You see what I mean?

Of course, the excitement of having your book brought to the screen, big or small, can eclipse the concern over whether or not your characters will look or sound the same way to see and hear them in your head. And let's be honest: how often have we, as readers, pictured a character in our minds only to discover that the author's vision was very different from ours?

I could tell you what actors I would cast as the characters in my Black Horse Campground mystery series, but I can almost guarantee you would disagree with me! Everyone envisions characters differently, and in a way, it's almost a disappointment to see a character you love looking like someone totally different than what you imagined. To me, that will always be the benefit of a book over a movie; the reader can make the characters their own as well as the author's and truly feel a part of the story.

I'm going to give Hallmark and Alison Sweeney the benefit of the doubt and probably see "Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder" (if only to engage in a lot of "wouldn't it be great if...?" dreaming!) but I still see the actress better cast as Hannah's sister, Andrea. Maybe she could dye her hair red for the role, though I don't see her putting on extra pounds... and let's see if she can bake!



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