Every Wednesday I recommend a book for people to read, mostly fiction but sometimes I'll recommend a book that might be helpful for both published and aspiring authors. This time I'm going to do both. Alina Adams, a New York Times bestselling and award winning novelist, has written several romances and, more recently, several media tie-in novels. She is currently one of the most successful authors in the world media tie-in books, a genre that is currently extremely popular although many of us (including myself) know very little about the inner workings of that area of publishing. For those who are interested in what tie-in publishing is all about or think you might want to enter that area of the publishing field the new e-book, Tied In: The Business, History and Craft of Media Tie-In Writing should have most of the answers you seek. Adams contributed to that book so rather than review it myself or review her soap opera tie-in novels (which are incredibly fun and should appeal to all romance readers regardless of whether or not they watch soaps) I have asked her for an interview so that she can describe what she does and what her books are all about in her own words. So without further ado here's the interview. Enjoy!
Tell me a little about the tie-in soap opera books you wrote, Oakdale Confidential, The Man From Oakdale and Jonathan’s Story.
"Oakdale Confidential" was tied-in to the soap opera, "As The World Turns" 50th anniversary of broadcasting in 2006. It spent several weeks on the NY Times best-seller list and was featured on the show itself. "Jonathan's Story" was a tie-in to "Guiding Light," and told the story of several characters' exploits while they were off the canvas, so that you had to read the book to figure out their deep, dark (is there any other kind on soaps?) secret when they returned. "The Man From Oakdale" also tied into "As The World Turns" and just won a Scribe Award for Best Tie-In Fiction at Comic-Con 2010 in San Diego.
Congratulations on the Scribe Award! How did all this start? What gave you the idea to write soap-opera tie-in books?
Soap fans are the most loyal fans in the world. Sometimes, five days a week isn't enough for them. They want to know everything about their favorite characters, and some things are just impossible to cover on-screen. That's where the books come in. Watching is one thing, but now you get to be privy to their innermost thoughts, too!
Was it difficult writing for characters that were created by someone else and who existed in a different forum? Was there any concern that you would write something that could interfere with a plot twist on the actual soap down the line?
The books were very much a joint venture. I worked with the shows' producers and headwriters to make sure that what I wrote in the book worked exactly with what they were putting on the air. As for writing characters created by someone else, it was a unique challenge, but a fun one! These characters all come with so much (in some cases decades' worth) of history, which means they could do almost anything... except when they couldn't.
Did you write the books exclusively for the fans of the shows or do you think non-viewers would find the books appealing as well?
The goal from the start was to write books that non-viewers could enjoy. The titles are all stand-alone, albeit they are also packed with in-jokes for fans in the know. (How's that for having it both ways?)
Before you were writing tie-in books you were a bestselling romance novelist. The genre is frequently dismissed by critics but others claim there is no better launching ground for a career in publishing than romance and many of the most successful authors in the world have chosen that as their primary genre. What are your feelings on the subject? Do you recommend others start their careers in romance?
You should write in the genre you love. If you love romance novels, then by all means, write romance. If you don't, however - don't. Readers are smart, they can smell insincerity. Don't try to fake enthusiasm for angsty, teen vampires if you do not truly love angsty teen vampires - despite the fact that they are seriously selling right now. Anything you write, do it with genuine passion. Otherwise, it becomes... work.
You’re currently writing stories online for ANOTHER WORLD characters. Can you tell me a little bit about this project and what inspired it?
"Another World Today" (http://www.AnotherWorldToday.com), the officially sanctioned continuation to NBC's soap, "Another World" and Mindy Lewis' Twitter (http://twitter.com/MelindaSueLewis), the on-going story of "Guiding Light," are Soap-Opera 3.0. First there was radio, then there was television, and now, the Internet. Both are ways to get your serial drama fix in a new way. Mindy's Twitter is a daily family saga told 140 characters at a time, while "Another World Today" is updated twice a week and features narrative text as well as video clips.
Okay, I’m having a hard time conveying my own saga in 140 character tweets. I’m rather impressed that you can pull that off for a fictional character. So who is your target readership for these stories and tweets?
I have two target audiences, soap fans, of course, especially those who still miss "Another World" and "Guiding Light" since they were taken off the air. But also romance readers who may never have given soaps a try because it either didn't work with their schedules or because the concept didn't appeal to them. Now that the soaps are in on-line text and video form, I hope fans of romantic family sagas will check us out and see what they've been missing (you can read us on your computer, your phone, etc...). After all, when you really get involved with a story, you hate for it to end. This way, it never has to.
Do you have any recommendations for those who are interested in writing their own tie-in novel? How would someone even approach a venture like that? Would they start by writing several chapters? Or just a proposal and outline to be presented to the people whose approval you need?
The Tie In Writers Association has just published an e-book, "Tied In: The Business, History and Craft of Media Tie-In Writing" covering all aspects of the business. (I have a chapter dealing specifically with soap tie-in writing called, "Doing It Daily.") It can be purchased via the "Another World Today" site: http://www.anotherworldtoday.com/aw_today.html. Just as a general overview, you don't want to write a proposal for a tie-in book. What you do want to do is take your previously published work and make sure that it gets in front of the editor hiring writers for a given project, with a letter explaining why you would be a perfect fit to write this particular tie in. Just being a fan of a show or movie isn't enough, it's good to explain why your style would mesh with theirs - having your own voice is great for publishing original work, but for tie-ins, you want to show that you can sublimate it to the larger vision. Do not pitch story ideas until asked. You get into all sorts of thorny legal issues that way. And remember, most of all, if you aren't having fun writing... you aren't doing it right. (And there are way, way, way many easier ways to make a living.)
Yeah, I can’t really think of any publishing job that is suited for those who want to get rich quick. Thank you so much for explaining a genre that has, up to his point, been a complete mystery to me.
And again, for my author blog-readers who are interested in getting into the tie-in field I really do recommend you check out Tied In. I’m pretty sure it’s the only book out there that explains how to approach such a venture. And if you're a romance reader check out Alina's novels and online reads! . I haven't watched a soap opera in years and yet I've thoroughly enjoyed them!
Bestselling Author of:The Sophie Katz Mystery Series
So Much For My Happy Ending
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