A Wicked Welcome to Kellye Garrett!

We are so happy to welcome Kellye Garrett to the blog today! Kellye’s debut novel, Hollywood Homicide, the first book in the Detective by Day series and Library Journal pick for Debut of the Month, was released this month. We know Kellye from Malice Domestic, and we’re thrilled she is joining the national board of Sisters in Crime. Kellye is going to be doing a giveaway to a US commenter today! Welcome Kellye!


The Big Picture

Updated CoverI’ve always loved television almost as much as I’ve loved reading. So, in retrospect, it wasn’t that surprising that I eventually became a TV writer—and later used that experience as the basis for my debut mystery novel, Hollywood Homicide. I thought it may be fun to share some interesting facts about working on a TV show.

It Takes a Village: It takes a lot of people and man hours to produce something that is only 60 minutes long. Television shows are like small companies. You have the boss called the showrunner, who is normally a writer and often the person who created the show itself. Like any job, there’s different departments with their own budgets and staff, including finance, casting, lighting and perhaps the most important group of all—craft services, aka the caterers.

Get a Room: Unlike writing books, writing a TV show is a group effort. A typical show normally has around 10-plus writers who all sit in the Writers Room—think a small conference room with lots of candy and whiteboards everywhere—and spend a week discussing what happens in an episode. Once the writers all figure out the episodes plot, then one writer will go off and actually write it.

Get Commercial: Like any business, the goal for a TV show to make money and that’s usually in the form of commercials. If you think you’re favorite television shows have gotten shorter, they have. Today’s hour-long shows have just 42 minutes of actual air time, compared to 48 minutes years ago. There’s also been a relatively recent change in how shows air. An hour television show used to have four acts. Now many shows have five. Why? So they can squeeze in more commercials, of course.

The Cliff Hanger: Every notice that the most exciting part of your favorite show always happens right before the commercial? That’s on purpose! They want you to be so excited for what happens next that patiently sit through all the commercials for toothpaste that you’d probably buy anyway.

Bottle Up: In 2015, an episode of your fave show cost an average of $3.5 million, (Link: https://www.onstride.co.uk/blog/much-cost-produce-favorite-tv-show/). Where does the money go? You have your standard expenses that don’t change every week like salaries, but other costs can vary per episode. So if a show’s has a special episode that goes over the weekly budget, they’ll later make up for it with what’s called a bottle episode. You can recognize them because there isn’t a lot of guest cast members (who cost money!) and the main cast spends a lot of time inside. Most shows usually have one or two bottle episodes per season. You can find some examples here.

Giveaway: Now that I’ve given you some inside info on TV, I’d love to learn what mysteries would make great TV shows. I’m giving away a copy of Hollywood Homicide to a commenter living in the United States. Comments will close on August 25!
Kellye GarrettKellye Garrett spent eight years working in Hollywood, including a stint writing for the CBS drama Cold Case. People were always surprised to learn what she did for a living—probably because she seemed way too happy to be brainstorming ways to murder people. A former magazine editor, Kellye holds a B.S. in magazine writing from Florida A&M and an MFA in screenwriting from USC’s famed film school. Having moved back to her native New Jersey, she spends her mornings commuting to Manhattan for her job at a leading media company—while still happily brainstorming ways to commit murder. Her first novel, Hollywood Homicide, was released by Midnight Ink in August 2017. It was Library Journal’s August Debut of the Month and was described as a “winning first novel and series launch” in a starred review by Publishers Weekly.

Book Description:
Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semifamous, mega-broke actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. So after witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she pursues the fifteen grand reward. But Dayna soon finds herself doing a full-on investigation, wanting more than just money—she wants justice for the victim. She chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes, and movie premieres, loving every second of it—until someone tries to kill her. And there are no second takes in real life.

63 Thoughts

  1. I love all those inside peeks at making a show, Kellye. Thanks, welcome to the blog, and congratulations on your debut! Lots of people have told me my Quaker Midwife mysteries would make a great TV show or movie – but it would be of the PBS variety.

  2. Thanks Kellye for this fascinating inside look at how TV shod get made. Aside from Hollywood Homicide or my own book Melody For Murder, I’d love to see a TV series about Blanche, Barbara Neeley’s wonderful amateur sleuth. My copy of Hollywood Homicide arrived last week. I’m really looking forward to diving in this weekend!

  3. Thanks for the insider’s view. I read books thinking “this would make a good TV show/movie,” but usually a lot of the “good stuff” would have to be changed or cut for time, so I’m always a little bit apprehensive if it actually happens.

    But I’d love to see adaptations of Rachel Howzell Hall’s Lou Norton series.

  4. Welcome! And thanks for the behind-the-scenes information. One question, though: how does a roomful of writers come up with a coherent script? Sounds like a recipe for chaos. And then they have to do it all over again for the next episode.

    1. They use a whiteboard to figure out the plot. With Cold Case, we came in with our own thoughts for the episode but it would usually get thrown out and we’d all start from scratch. It’s so collaborative so you might have a great idea for a twist, which would inspire me to have an idea for the next scene. It takes about a week to do each ep.

      The actual details of the script are left to the writer. You just are given an outline.

  5. Great post. I particularly enjoyed reading about bottle shows. (Good link!) Victoria Laurie has a series that started with Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye. I think that could be the basis of a solid TV series.

    And I’d love to win your book. Fingers crossed!

  6. Welcome, Kellye!!!! Hollywood Homicide arrived at me house last week. I can’t wait to read it! Are the writers on the set when the show is filming?

    1. Thanks for getting it, Sherry. Yes, we’re involved in every aspect of our episode so we help cast the guest stars and we’re on set every day. They even give you your own director’s chair. lol

  7. Loved the book and highly recommend it. Nice description of what goes into making a TV drama. I’ve always been jealous of single camera hours. No run-throughs like in multi-cam sitcoms, where you have to trudge back to the room and make it funnier until all hours of the night. 🙁

  8. Kassandra Lamb’s To Kill a Labrador series is starting nicely and has a GREAT underlying social services theme.

  9. Hi Kellye — so nice to see you at Wicked Cozy Authors, and congratulations on the release of Hollywood Homicide. Your description of the work, strategies and expense of putting out a weekly television episode truly boggles the mind! I think Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mysteries or Krista Davis’ Domestic Diva Series would make great TV shows~

    1. Hi Celia! So nice to see you in these parts. Yes, even the shows that your’e like “that was a horrible show” had so many people putting their blood, sweat and tears into it. lol I love Krista’s series. Have to read Cleo’s.

  10. Hi Kellye–welcome to the Wickeds! I, too, am a TV fan. Thanks for the look behind the scenes. And good luck with the new book. It sounds terrific.

  11. As a fan of TV as well as books, I enjoyed this look behind the scenes.

    And if you haven’t read this book yet, do so today. It’s great! (Don’t enter me in the contest.)

  12. Very interesting post, thanks for sharing. I’m anxious to read Hollywood Homicide.

  13. Hi Kellye, thank you for the peek behind the curtain! If Hollywood Homicide were a show, I’d definitely tune in.

  14. The Jenn McKinley books about the cupcake bakery. Strong characters differerent dynamics a silent partner who is a love interest and a policeman is the other. Not really like Murder She Baked except baking is involved.

  15. I also should have said your book is waiting on my Kindle! So many great series suggestions here, too. A question: because you “know people” – will that make it easier to get your book made into a show? Asking for a “friend” – LOL…

    1. Ha ha. I wish I had a pat answer. I think the more “visual” your book is the better and I think the lasting power of both the character development and the hook. You write one book a year for a series but you have 10-22 episodes one year. Is your subject matter such that you can get (ideally) 100 episodes out of it without it seeming repetitive?

  16. Great behind the scenes look, Kellye! And I think a certain semi-famous, mega broke actress with killer eyebrows (AKA Dayna Anderson) would make a fab lead in her own TV show!

  17. Thanks for the peek behind the scenes. I would love to see Jessie’s Whispers Beyond the Veil produced!

  18. I enjoyed Cold Case. I’d like to see most any cozy mystery on TV, including the Wickeds’.

  19. Thanks for sharing all the behind the scenes action. That was a lot of fun learning more about our favorite TV shows. All the series by The Wickeds would make great TV shows.

  20. I think Hollywood Homicide would be great as a movie! I hope you bring back Omari in the next book because I have a big crush on him 🙂

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