Is it just me, or are there some seriously great book-to-primetime TV series out there right now? And if you’ve been watching, wow. Nail-biting season finales, right? The Starz series Outlander follows very closely the popular Diana Gabaldon series of books. HBO’s Game of Thrones is one of my personal favorites. And then of course many of us remember the True Blood/Southern Vampire Series series and books. I haven’t seen or read The Leftovers. Should I?
The problem with book-to-tv or book-to-movie is that faithful readers sometimes become disenchanted when a book character doesn’t match up to preconceived notions. Or when a show’s writers veer from the book’s storyline. Like probably every author since mankind stopped using papryus and parchment, I was a reader before I began writing. I had my favorites, of course–those beloved books from which I began modeling my own writing, those authors whose skill I long to someday achieve but likely never will. I recall being so grateful when the second (or third or fourth or eighth) book in series fell in line with my view of the plot and character fates. Perhaps even more clearly, I recall being heartbroken and furious at unexpected deaths and betrayals. Readers invest in books. It’s why we write them. We want our characters to be as beloved and/or as feared by our audience as we love and hate them ourselves.
The latest installment of a popular urban fantasy series I read faithfully feature an awful lot of one and two star reviews. Why? Readers felt the main character fell short of their expectations. That she lost her gall somewhere along the way. As I round the final stretch of the second book in my own series, my thoughts are more sympathetic toward the author. That’s a hard pill to swallow. How many times have I thrown a book down disgustedly and thought, “Ugh. What was that author thinking?”
Now I’m the author. If anyone besides my mother reads my books, and if any of those one or two people form any affection for my characters, I want to nurture that budding love. I shudder to think that I would ever disappoint a reader the way I’ve been disappointed. I shudder. Then I wrap the fleece blanket back around my legs and keep writing. An author must sometimes make hard choices. At the end of the day, we’re the ones who close our laptops and lie our heads on battered pillows before contemplating dialogue for sleepless hours on end. We must write what our minds produce. Lord knows you can’t please everyone all the time anyway.
Now that I have typed a mile on those other authors’ keypads, I’m a fairer reader as an author. I hope I’ll be more thoughtful in the future and try not to throw someone’s book baby across the room after reading the last chapter. I’ll try. Nobody’s perfect. Certainly not authors. Certainly not me.
Jen Crane’s life is too real for nonfiction. She writes romantic fantasy to take readers from the stress of their everyday lives for a little while.