Guest Post: Doret Canton on Books Being Television Shows

Due to boring circumstances beyond my control, I will not be online much in February. Fortunately I’ve been able to line up a number of stellar guests to fill in for me. Most are writers, but I also thought it would be fun to get some publishing types to explain what it is they do, teach you some more about the industry, and answer your questions, as well as one or two bloggers.

Doret Canton loves sport as much as I do. In fact, I interviewed her about that very subject right here on this blog and she said many smart and sensible things. (Except about American Football not being boring.) The reviews on her blog are amongst my favourite online reviews. Do check them out.

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Doret Canton is a bookseller who likes many of her customers. The others she runs and hides from. After working at a bookstore for so long, she has turned avoiding would be problem customers into an art form. She updates her blog TheHappyNappyBookseller regularly.

If This Book Was A Television Show

I loved Dia Reeves’ debut YA novel Bleeding Violet. It was beautifully strange. Check out this great review by The Book Smugglers. Seventeen year old Hanna heads to her mom’s hometown of Portero, Texas after knocking her aunt out cold. Portero, like Hanna, is far from normal. Before arriving in Portero Hanna only speaks to her dead father, now she can see him as well. Everything that happened in Portero was so out there I loved it. Halfway through Bleeding Violet, I couldn’t help but think—if this was a television show it would get cancelled. It would go something like this:

    Week 1: Watched by a few people with nothing better to do.
    Week 2: Only half return.
    Week 3: Some convince a few friends to check out the weirdness that happens in Portero. More people tune in
    Week 4-8: Word is spreading about this strange show. Friends are getting together to watch.
    Week 9: A made for TV movie airs.
    Week 10: The show is bumped again. Some fans begin to worry
    Week 11: – A rerun. Many aren’t exicted about this but at least its back.
    Week 12: Another rerun.
    Week 13: Another reun. By now the smart fans are catching on. They know the network is merely screwing with them by showing reruns.
    Six Months Later: The incomplete complete box set (with never seen before episodes) is available.

So many great, not-the-same-as-everything-else shows get cancelled. I still miss Arrested Development, Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me

Thankfully Bleeding Violet is a book and not a television show. Though once this idea was in my head I started thinking about how other novels would fair. Zetta Elliott’s wonderful YA novel A Wish After Midnight would be passed over by all networks, large and small. They would totally miss its great miniseries potential. Many of my co-workers read YA. Like me, one enjoys Maureen Johnson’s novels. I asked her, If Suite Scarlett and its follow up, Scarlett Fever, (which was so worth the wait) were a television show how would it do? If the show stuck to the book, my co-worker gave it two seasons. Sadly, that sounded about right. That’s why we have TV on DVD, and, better yet, books.

Since this guest post might be read by people in Oz I shall end with a question. I loved Melina Marchetta’s newest novel Finnikin of the Rock. The year is young but I already know it’s a top read of 2010. If Finnikin of the Rock was an Aussie TV show how would it do?


  1. MissAttitude on #

    I actually think Bleeding Violet could do quite well, a la Supernatural. I just started watching that show and it’s pretty good, creepy but good and from what I’ve heard of BV, it’s excellent and weird.

    Hmm again I think Suite Scarlett could go far also, especially if all the teens that read the book, tune in. I think we do want more than Gossip Girl and 90210 so if TV starts having shows like site scarlett and Bleeding Violet, we will watch.

    I do agree that AWAM might not do very well =/ I actually think Liar could work as a TV show (except they would probably have to give it a more definite ending). And I would love to see an It Chicks series/movie as the POC version of Gossip Girl, etc.

    And let’s have more sports-orineted shows like Make It or break It (I don’t actually watch that but I’ve heard it’s decent)

  2. Allison on #

    Another excellent, out-there show that was prematurely cancelled: Pushing Daisies. I was SO sad when it ended. It’s unfortunate that the quirky shows don’t do well. Thank goodness books don’t work like TV shows; how awful would it be if a BOOK got cancelled after people had already read the first half?

  3. Ronni on #

    I don’t know how well Finnikin of the Rock would work as a TV show, but Marchetta’s other books have been successfully adapted. Her first novel, Looking for Alibrandi (written in the late 80s/early 90s I think) was made into a film in the early 2000s, and it’s actually pretty good. It was not an entirely faithful adaptation (for a start, it was updated to be more in keeping with the later time period), but, to be honest, faithful adaptations of books usually aren’t the best adaptations.

  4. Ali on #

    *sigh* too true. This post makes me think of Robert Moore’s JJ Abrams line – where all shows that are above the JJ Abrams line (Mad Men, Pushing Daisies, Dollhouse, etc) are too smart and/or unconventional to succeed on broadcast television, and all shows that are below it (Grey’s Anatomy, CSI etc) are more likely to succeed. It is called the JJ Abrams line because Lost is ON the line. Also, I like your time line, because it is spot on and it reads like the exact story of what happened to Firefly. We could call it the Bleeding Violet line?

    Incidentally, I think Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods books could make a good TV series. I think networks could be convinced to show them because they have a)vampires and b)rich, beautiful people. They also have enough twists and turns to get interesting quickly and oh yeah, they are really good. 🙂

  5. Margie Gelbwasser on #

    I second the Pushing Daisies love. It seems every time a show comes on that does something a little different, it gets axed (e.g. Tru Calling, Reunion, Pushing Daisies). The timeline is terrific too and so true. Good thing books allow more time for a fan base that TV.

  6. susan on #

    Smart books like smart television gets canceled. Anything that requires more than a few brain cells usually doesn’t do well among the masses.

    That’s why I prefer indie films, British TV (that’s always copied in watered-down fashion in the US) and the lesser known, but brilliant, work of smart POC writers.

    That’s your point isn’t it: YA that isn’t cookie-cutter cute and fuzzy often remains under the radar?

    Enjoyed your post, Doret.

  7. Doret on #

    I think Bleeding Violet is too creepy beautiful to survive on TV.

    I think A Wish After Midnight would make a very sweet made for TV cable miniseries.

    I love Johnson’s Scarlett series. I just don’t see a show based off the books lasting if it stayed true to the storyline. Plus I doubt it would. I can’t see a network creating a younger sister, that’s a cancer survivor and mean.

    In the TV verison Scarlett’s younger sister would probably still be a cancer survivor but she would most likely be nice and likeable. And that’s just wrong.

    I remember Pushing Daises, someone turned me onto it right before it was cancelled.

    I do hope to see Looking for Albrandi one day.

    I haven’t read any of the Blue Blood books but – Rich Vampires. I think would have some network staying power.

  8. edi on #

    Doret, you read too much for me to keep up with you!! Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girls… I’m not sure which came first book or series? I do think a lot of YA in the US is getting put on the screen (big and little) thus changing the writer’s market: publishers are looking for scripts rather than books. Do you see this trend as changing the writer’s market?

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