From page to screen
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
October 29, 2022
Sometimes we read a book that we can see so clearly in our mind's eye, it seems to be showing up on a big screen in our head as the story pans out. Sometimes we meet and enjoy characters so much that we want to see those characters over and over again and we don't want to let them go. They have become our friends. Sometimes the imagination of the writer is so unique or so big and all encompassing, that we yearn to see it fleshed out in real life. The closest we experience this is when a book is chosen to be made into a television series or movie. The life of Harry Potter was given to us piece by piece, sometimes waiting years to get the next book installment. Then suddenly we were waiting for the movies, too, when Harry, Hermione and Ron came to life before our eyes. Oh the satisfaction!
British author Ann Cleeves is best known for her Shetland Island books and her series with Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope set in Northumberland, England. There are 10 books in the Vera series starting with "The Crow Trap" and the most recently published "The Rising Tide." The Shetland series featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez working from the Shetland Islands, a subarctic northernmost region of the United Kingdom, starts with "Raven Black" followed by a total of eight books. Both television series can be found on Britbox, and they along with the books are truly entertaining, the scenery stunning and the cultures described unique. It is fun to explore new places as the mysteries unfold, in beautiful and stark lands.
A most unique setting is found in the book "Wool" by Hugh Howie, to be seen as a movie on Apple TV in March 2023. There is still time to read this dystopian tale and imagine the confines of the silo, meet the characters and get a feeling for this new world created out of cataclysmic catastrophe, before it unfolds on screen in front of your real eyes. It is hopeful that further books in Howie's series will also be filmed, including "Shift" and the "Sand" series, the newest being "Across the Sands" published this October.
I would be remiss not including the beloved Baby-Sitters Club series, written by Ann M. Martin. There are 213 Baby-Sitters Club books in all, including novels, super specials, mysteries and featured books of individual characters. Aiming for the 9-12 year old readers, they have been enjoyed by a wider audience, especially as the characters grew older and after the debut of the feature film in 1995. A Netflix series in 2020 brought the club members new screen exposure and two seasons were shown into 2022. Even though the series was canceled before season three, the books remain a staple in libraries and bookstores to new generations of readers.
I feel great satisfaction when the books I read are chosen to be made into a series or movie for the big screen. I then feel like I have made quality selections, because I am not the only one who sees a specific work as special and worthy of a bigger audience. It was even more surprising and delightful when I found one of my favorite series being made into books after the mysteries had played on television for years. I had watched Jessica Fletcher in "Murder She Wrote" from its conception, looking forward to the mysteries to be solved and enjoying Jessica as she solved them. From 1984 to 1992 we traveled the world while Angela Lansbury kept her character fresh and fun. In 1989 her first book was published titled "Gin and Daggers." There are 56 books in all, the latest "Death on the Emerald Isle" to be published in 2023. Lansbury passed away this month, just before her 97th birthday. Oh how I wished I could have thanked her personally for the wonderful journey back then and continuing now in reruns and the many, many books in between.
And I wish I could thank Robbie Coltrane for being our Hagrid in the Harry Potter series as well. I don't know about the rest of you. But when book characters come alive on the screen, played by real life actors, I am not tricked into thinking those actors are their characters. But somehow, I feel comfort knowing that those actors live on and breathe on, and in some way that gives continuing life to their screen versions. Perhaps it is the hope of seeing them return to the character and give us more. But when the actor passes, there is a finite loss. That possibility of seeing them more is gone and is as ending as death itself. And I grieve. Bless you Angela and Robbie, our Jessica and Hagrid, for giving us the magic of your talents and the ability to believe your characters really lived. I will miss you both.
*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.