first published in the Brisbane Courier-Mail 3 June 2007
It’s always surprised me that more romance novels haven’t made it to the big screen. After all, on the surface at least, it would seem that movies and romance would be a match made in heaven. The romance side would bring a considerable built-in fan base – one that has already demonstrated a willingness to spend disposable income on entertainment purposes. Further, what with the sheer number of novels published each year across a multitude of genres from action/adventure to Westerns, romance offers a substantial renewable resource for script-writers and producers alike. On the movie side, we have an established backlist of romantic comedies and dramas and a solid history of adding in romantic tension, even when the movie doesn’t call for it. Everyone remember The Matrix?
Though there are some exceptions — Leopard in the Snow, for example, was based on a romance novel of the same name — romance has always been geared more towards television. In the 70s and 80s Harlequin put together made-for-television movies of some of their more popular titles across all genres. Though these were originally only shown on cable, most are now readily available on DVD. In fact, I came across some of the original titles in Target not that long ago. Dated, it’s true, but still a lot of fun.
More recently, four of Nora Roberts’s novels (included her most recent at the time Angel Falls) were also made into made-for-television movies for an American cable show. No word if they’re going to make it to Australian television, but I have my doubts. They will, no doubt, come out on DVD though, so if you’re interested, stay tuned to Amazon.
However, television producers have again taken notice of some romance writers – not for movies this time, however, but ongoing series.
Two paranormal series have been picked up for television. The first, Tanya Huff’s Blood Ties has been on air for a season already in North America. The television show, also titled Blood Ties, has gained popularity among romance readers for sticking true to the content, but also the feel of the original series.
The second, and one I’m very excited about, is Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series, picked up by HBO and titled True Blood. The series is still in planning stages, but news keeps leaking and excitement is mounting among Harris’s many many fans. Here’s a few tidbits to tide you over. Alan Ball, who brought us Six Feet Under is at the helm. The role of Sookie is going to be played by Anna Paquin, who’s going blonde for the part. English actor Stephen Moyer is Bill.
Incidentally, all three major commercial stations here in Australia have customer service forms. Feel free to write—often—to request Sookie Down Under.