TV Shows I’m Addicted To

Jordan Dane

I have my DVR set up with countless shows I record. My husband also knows my interest in the strange and peculiar NOVA Science shows or historical documentaries. As a writer, anything can stir your imagination and you never know what small tidbit can fuel a book or series. I once did a whole proposal after seeing a science show on venomous snakes.

Here are a couple of my fav TV shows adapted from books:

Hannibal – OMG! I am giddy for Thursday nights now because of this show. This is an adaptation of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, but it is a prequel where FBI BAU profiler, Agent Will Graham, is brought in to consult with his old boss, Jack Crawford, and hunt serial killers. We meet the infamous Hannibal Lecter in the wild, before he gets caught. Will is good at his job, depicted as closer to Asperger’s & sociopaths, and can visualize himself as the killer. This puts him in need of therapy, as you can imagine, but his boss picks Hannibal Lecter as his psychiatrist. This is graphic stuff, but the tongue in cheek dark humor is over the top and the psychological trauma worsens in Will, as we see him falling apart and under the care of Lecter. It’s mesmerizing to watch. Hugh Dancy is yummy as Will Graham and Mads Mikkelson as Hannibal redefines the role, big shoes to fill after Anthony Hopkins.

This show is beautifully shot and the acting is amazing, but the reinvention of the Red Dragon book, in such a creative way, has me coming back every week. I went back to read the book and got even more out of the show. 

Justified – This show’s season has ended, but it gets better each year. Writer Elmore Leonard is the guy behind this show and the writing is superb. The characterizations and the dialogue are worth every minute of your time to watch this show. One of my favorite things to do is tweet my fav lines as the show is one. Many of my writer friends do this. Marshal Raylan Givens and criminal childhood friend Boyd Crowder are two characters to watch. The season that just ended was my favorite (and that’s saying something). Pure Rayland and Boyd.

Cable Shows I Have Recently Become Addicted to:

The Borgias – Jeremy Irons is damned sexy as a Pope. And his son, Cesare Borgia, has me spellbound…especially when he’s naked. Family scandal and treachery in enticing scenes.

Game of Thrones –I hadn’t watched this show until I recently caught up in a marathon of recordings, but I got totally hooked. Some of the recent storylines left me so sad though and it reminded me how emotional our stories have to be to grip readers.

What are some of your favorite guilty pleasure TV shows…and why do you like them? Do you get something from them that helps your writing? Are you addicted to any of the shows I watch?

Bookstore Shtick

By John Gilstrap

I consider myself to be an extrovert, yet I confess that bookstore appearances are a source of stress for me. Don’t get me wrong—I love meeting booksellers and fans (and future fans), and the signings themselves are great fun; but the rest of the show concerns me. I worry that I’m going to bore people.

Let’s be honest: not all author appearances are created equal. Nonfiction authors have the advantage of being able to lecture about their topic, but those of us who write about made-up stuff don’t really have that luxury. Somehow, we need to make ourselves interesting to people who know us more for the figments of our imagination than for ourselves. Along those lines, I had occasion to share an afternoon with Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon), a famous recluse. When I asked him why he never gives interviews and why he never does bookstore appearances, he told me that as a thriller writer, his reclusiveness made him more mysterious and helped to sell books.

Could this be true? I hope the answer is no, but who am I to judge? Maybe it’s not even relevant, because one way or another, I want to meet people. But what’s the best way to do that when you’re also trying to sell books?

The most obvious option would be to read from my book, but I rarely do. Why would people want to hear me read what they’re later going to read for themselves? I’d rather tell them the stories behind the stories. If pressed, of course, I’ll be happy to read, but rather than reading directly from the book, I’ll probably read a section of a special edited-down version of my novel, created specifically to be performed to an audience. Any and all Big-7 cuss words will be eliminated from the read-aloud version, and the scene will be one that really rocks. There won’t be a lot of dialogue because I’m not a very good actor, and I suck at characterizing the voices. Out of respect for everyone’s time, I keep the readings to a maximum of five minutes.

In addition to content, I worry about the length of the show. Since bookstores rarely put out comfortable chairs at these things, I’m concerned that the audience’s butts will go numb even more quickly than their minds. I shoot for twenty minutes total shtick, followed by maybe ten minutes of questions and then the signing. Left to my own devices, I’d go on and on and on; but out of respect for the audience, I think they should be able to hear me say my piece, say a few one-on-one words with me at the signing table and be on their way home within an hour.

What about you? What do you expect of authors at book signings? Are readings important? Is there a perfect format that I and my colleagues should be shooting for? For you writers out there, what has worked for you and what has bombed?