I read a book a while ago called Tied In: The Business, History and Craft of Media Tie-In Writing. It was edited by Lee Goldberg, an author and screenwriter who’s written teleplays for shows such as Diagnosis: Murder, Monk, and Spenser: For Hire, and more recently has been collaborating with Janet Evanovich on the “Fox and O’Hare” mysteries. I came across it after I had read a couple of Burn Notice novels by Lee’s brother Tod and went looking for more by him.
The book is a collection of essays written by the writers of tie-in novels and novelizations. A tie-in novel is an original work that uses the characters from a movie or TV series. (The difference between a tie-in novel and fan fiction is that the creators of the movie or TV show have given their approval to the author, maybe even commissioned the writer with the task, while fan fiction is a story or novel written by a fan of the show and not intended for publication, since publishing it would be unauthorized and would get the author sued.) A novelization takes an existing screenplay or teleplay and turns it into a novel, often filling in details that weren’t a part of the original.
I’ve read a number of novelizations over the years. When the movie A Hard Day’s Night first came out, my mother wouldn’t let me go by myself to see it because it involved crossing Sheridan Road, the busiest street in the neighborhood. I had to settle for reading the novelization of it, which, after seeing the movie, I realized had nothing to do with it. Later, when I first discovered Doctor Who, I found novelizations of several episodes that had been written by Ian Marter, who had played Harry Sullivan, a character in some of the late Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and early Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) stories. I’ve also read tie-in novels for series such as The Mod Squad, The Man From UNCLE, Get Smart, and the aforementioned Burn Notice, and have seen tie-ins for Murder, She Wrote, Star Trek, Star Wars, and the various CSI: shows, and I’m certain there are plernty more.
I’ve been tempted to try novelizing a movie or TV show and to try writing a tie-in novel, which is why I bought the book in the first place. I might do it yet, but the more I consider it, the more I end up telling myself, “nahhhhh…” I sometimes think the book was written specifically to warn people off of trying it. I’m not sure. Maybe I should read it again.
One story in the book was the reason I considered writing again, which I hadn’t done since my stroke because I only have the one hand that I can use to type. It told of Walter Wager, who got his start writing tie-ins for the I Spy series. Walter, I learned, had written a number of books, and he only had one hand. That got me thinking, if he can do it, so can I…