Friday, November 30, 2012


The moment General Hospital's Molly announced that she'd written a novel (off-screen), savvy fans knew what was coming.  Can you say tie-in, boys and girls?  I knew you could!

Love in Maine, described in publisher Hyperion's catalog as "Who knew one of Port Charles’s most demure residents had a romance novel in the drawer? This page-turning new book, penned by one of General Hospital's best loved characters, will give fans new stories to follow and characters to love... Featuring all new content with stories and characters fans haven't seen on the series, this emotion-packed love story will bring readers even deeper into the world of their favorite soap."

And therein lies my problem with the project.  New stories to follow and characters to love... All new content with stories and characters fans haven't seen on the series....

As the author of three soap opera tie-ins of my own, Oakdale Confidential (which was also released in conjunction with As the World Turns' 50th Anniversary), The Man From Oakdale, and Guiding Light's Jonathan's Story, I fought to make my books be about the characters the fans already loved, not newbies they had no investment in.

Granted, this made the writing process much harder and produced incongruities like the fact that in The Man From Oakdale, Dusty is dead, while, by the time the book was published, he was alive again.  A novel like One Life to Live's The Killling Club or All My Children's Charm! is much easier to coordinate with the shows ongoing storylines... since it doesn't really need to coordinate with the shows ongoing storylines at all.

But, that's not the kind of book I wanted to write.  As a soap fan before I was a soap opera tie-in writer, I knew that I wanted to read original adventures featuring my favorite characters.  I wanted to know more about them, what they were thinking and feeling while the camera was somewhere else.

That's why I loved what Shari Anderson did with the Days of Our Lives tie-in novels.  She allowed fans to keep up with John, Marlena, Belle, Shawn and more, even while introducing a new family.  (Read my rave review, here.)

It was exactly the same strategy I employed in my books.  Not only did I feature favorites like Katie and Mike, Jack and Carly, Henry and Vienna, Craig and Sierra, Tom and Margo, Lily and Lucinda, but I tried to fill even minor roles with familiar faces from the past - Lucy, Maddie, Sabrina, Frannie, while I incorporated as much cannon history as I could - who remembers James' sister, Ariel, or his manservant, Nels?  I wrote my books specifically for the fans, both old and new.  And I especially loved the fact that, with Jonathan's Story, the actions described in the book were actually referenced on-screen.  Reva and Alan came back from looking for Jonathan (off-screen) with a whopper of a secret, and viewers got to see the consequences play out.  It was very, very tough to coordinate in real time.  But, the show and I did it.  Because we thought it was worth the extra effort.

Molly Lansing may be a wonderful author (though I too tried my hand at writing romance novels when I was her age.  And let's say the results were less than publication worthy.  I didn't sell my first book until I was 24.  And, in retrospect, I was still too young and mostly faking it.  I even reread books I wrote in my twenties, featuring characters in their 40s and, now that I am 40+, cringe - see details.)  And Connie, who appears to be the one taking credit for the work, may well be a wonderful plagiarist (after all, she does have two personalities working on the project instead of one), but, no matter how great of a romance novel Love in Maine turns out to be (or, rather, how good the actual ghostwriter is), it will still not be a true General Hospital novel, in the way that, say, Robin's Diary was.

And that just makes me mourn the lost possibilities.  Imagine if, instead of strangers, we'd been treated to a book about one of Luke's off-screen adventures (maybe he's with Laura, reliving their glory days).  Or Jax (maybe he's with Brenda).  Or Lois and Ned, or Robert and Holly on their hunt for Ethan, or Anna, Frisco and Sean's WSB case files, or even Helena's autobiography.

What kind of tie-ins do you prefer?  Please tell us below!

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