Don’t Miss this Hallmark Movie — Guest Dana Cameron

StoryTellerMary is the winner of the DVD! Look for an email from Dana! I’m so happy that multi-talented author Dana Cameron could stop by to talk about visiting the set of third movie adapted from her books! She is giving away a DVD of the first “Emma Fielding Mysteries” installment, “Site Unseen.” (US only.)

Dana: Remember the scene in “Wayne’s World” when Wayne and Garth get all-access passes for the Alice Cooper concert? And they over-enthusiastically showed their badges to all and sundry? That’s how it kinda how it felt when I got to visit the set of  “Emma Fielding Mysteries: More Bitter Than Death” last August. It’s the third movie in the series on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries is based on my fifth novel of the same name, starring Courtney Thorne-Smith as Emma Fielding, James Tupper as FBI Special Agent Connor, and Mark Valley as Duncan Thatcher.  The premiere is scheduled for February 10, 2019 at 9pm Eastern—just a few days away!—and I’ll be live tweeting, so join me!

Wayne and Garth come to mind because of the giddiness I felt at getting to see how the movie was made. There were no name tags, but I did have to be escorted onto set (as did everyone who was not in the cast or crew), and I got to wear a headset to hear the acting and the instructions to the crew and cast. And I managed to stay cool, most of the time (no “we’re not worthies!”), because I didn’t want to get booted for interrupting work. And even when I didn’t move quite fast enough (there’s a lot of hustling on a set), people were really kind. “Dana, I’d like to invite you to go over to craft and have a snack” is a lot nicer than “dude, move it, we’re about to shoot over here.”

One of the neatest things I got to see was how the crew are constantly editing their work—and mine—to tell the story to their audience. It was a little strange at first, to see how the screenplay differed from my book. Then, it was really cool to watch and understand, because knowing who your audience is, and how to communicate with them, is an important part of being a professional artist.

For example—no spoilers for either the book or the movie!—some things would have been too difficult or costly to shoot.  Others, like creating the character of Special Agent Jim Conner, makes sense for the TV movies to keep Emma in the thick of the investigation.  In the books, I wanted everything else in Emma’s life but her marriage to be in upheaval; for movie-Emma, having her career and living situation already sorted out gives her more time to solve mysteries (and maybe even find a new love interest? No spoilers!). Some of the elements of the academic conference were a little too “inside baseball” for anyone who wasn’t an academic, and what might work in a book wouldn’t read the same way on the screen. But Phoef Sutton [] the screenwriter kept enough of it to get the flavor, create tension (and a few laughs), and scatter a few clues.

I’m a fan of the current trend of retelling stories from different points of view or set in different historical periods. They show how a story that rings true in one time or place, still works when it’s set today (or even in the future). That it’s useful to look at another character’s take on a familiar story; take BBC’s “Sherlock” episode, “The Abominable Bride,” for example, where we see very different sides of Mary Watson and Emelia Ricoletti. Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver is a wonderful example of retelling “Rumplestiltskin” in a realistic historical context.

Probably what I like best about different versions of the same story is that it starts out with the ultimate writer’s question, “What if?” And there’s always room for creative speculation.

So what’s your favorite book-to-film adaptation, or favorite retelling of a familiar story?

BIO: Dana Cameron writes across many genres, but especially crime and speculative fiction. Her work, inspired by her career in archaeology, has won multiple Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity Awards, and has been nominated for the Edgar Award. Dana’s Emma Fielding archaeology mysteries were optioned by Muse Entertainment; the third movie, based on MORE BITTER THAN DEATH, will premiere on the Hallmark Movie & Mystery Channel on February 10, 2019. When she’s not traveling,  weaving, or visiting museums, she’s usually yelling at the TV about historical inaccuracies.




35 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations, Dana! This is so exciting. I love how you embrace the differences between the movie and your book and understand the reasons. Were there also decisions the movie people made that you were really unhappy about? How about the casting? Pleased?

  2. How cool to see a movie made out of your book! I would be exactly like Wayne and Garth in that kind of situation too. As for favorite book-to-film adaptation, I have to go with Fried Green Tomatoes. Absolutely loved that movie.

  3. I’m so happy for you Dana! And as I said to you as we talked about the blog, living vicariously. I’ve loved Mark Valley for years. I can’t wait to watch the movie on Sunday!

  4. I must say I do not have a favorite book to movie adaptation….but I enjoy a lot of them! it sounds so exciting to exciting to be on the set of ‘your’ book/movie. Congratulations!

  5. Being a #1 fan of the “Wizard of Oz”, I was extremely happy with the results when they released “Oz the Great and Powerful”.

    Can’t wait to see Dana Cameron’s book up on the Hallmark screen!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. Congratulations, Dana! I think my favorites have to be the many adaptations of Sherlock Holmes over the years. Each one brings something to the character.

  7. I have to say that I enjoy the Hallmark mystery movies a lot! I love the Emma Fielding movies, but I haven’t read the books yet. I was a big fan when Hallmark first started making the mystery movies with the Mystery Woman, Jane Doe and McBride series, so when they started branching out to other series I was thrilled. I sometimes have a hard time when they change things drastically from the way it is in the books, as I get a picture in my head of how the people look and act, but the hardest for me is when they change relationships. Like the Flower Shop Mysteries, they really changed things up in that one and when I watch it I have to just think of it as a series, not a book series I’ve read or it bugs me! As for my favorite book-to-film adaptation…hmm…probably Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys mysteries back in the 70’s. The details matched the books pretty well. Renee

  8. Wickeds, thank you so much for having me!

    Edith, I’ve been really pleased so far with the casting and everything. Courtney Thorne-Smith really gets the character of Emma Fielding. One thing that I always find funny–everyone in the field in “Site Unseen” is so clean! And well-dressed! But considering how, when I was working in the field and would stop in a supermarket to get lunch, people would grab their kids away from near me, I guess I understand why their choice is the better one!

    Marla, that’s such a good movie, and from a super book!

    Sherry, I hope you enjoy watching Mark Valley, and the movie, on Sunday! 🙂

    Sandy and Paula, thanks so much! Kay, I hope you enjoy the movie!

    Oh, Liz, me too! I love comparing Sherlocks!

    Renee, gosh, I remember those shows! Nancy Drew books were a gateway mystery experience for me.

    1. Dana, I was the same way when I was farming – I’d go pick up my son at preschool, look at all the other clean and pressed moms, glance at the dirt on my knees and elbows, and … shrug!

  9. It must be a a bit surreal to see your words become “action!” Brava! Did you get a chair with “writer” on the back?
    The dramatization has to become a new story, but it’s hard to let go of the images in one’s mind. My Am. Lit. students were disappointed that the movie of OF MICE AND MEN didn’t show Lennie’s large rabbit conscience speaking to him in his aunt’s voice, but there was no way to do that and retain a serious mood.

  10. Mary, I got to sit in video village, but there were no designations on the chairs. I will never get tired of looking at the markers with the movie names on them. Every time it’s like, “hey, wait–I wrote something with that same name!” LOL I think it takes a lot of thought and restraint to keep the tone of a book consistent with the movie, so it sounds like the folks behind OMM made the right choice.

  11. So fun to hear from Dana! I am looking forward to the new movie this weekend! The Harry Potter movies used such care in taking the book to screen that I always find they are my number one pick. I also loved the Anne of Green Gables adaption they did on Canadian tv–back in the 90’s maybe?

  12. What an exciting adventure. I really enjoyed your post because it pointed out that it’s okay for the screen adaptation to be different than the book and to like both, although I have to admit that I think everything Stephen King should stay in the books. I think I read that he said something to the effect of if you don’t like the movie the book is still there so you can read it again. I enjoy Hallmark movies but get tired at times of complaints that they didn’t follow the books closely enough. As you point out, that’s not always possible to work in a movie. One adaptation that comes to mind is the Kate Collins Flower Shop Mysteries that were made into a few movies for Hallmark. They really didn’t seem anything like the books to me, but they somehow captured the feel and sense of them and I love both the books and the movies.

    1. Thank you, Sally. Getting the feel and sense of the books is the key thing, I think, plus it gives you a new and different way to enjoy familiar characters!

  13. Congratulations on the movies, Dana! And thanks for sharing a peek behind the scenes! I was surprised at how much I enjoy the Sherlock program with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. I usually feel a bit jarred by the new versions of old favorites but I was delighted with what they did with it.

    1. Thanks, Jessie! It’s so much fun to compare Cumberbatch’s Sherlock with Jeremy Brett’s Holmes. I really like the update, but the scripts for the older collection are sooo Canonical!

  14. This is a new author and series for me, I’ll check it out. How cool to watch your book being made into a movie!

  15. My goal is to have my book in audio format–but for you being able to see your work on the screen must be beyond exciting. Congratulations, Dana. I have the program marked on my calendar for Sunday so I don’t miss it.

  16. When they adapt a book, I like them to stick closely to the story. When they use a book as a source for a series, things are going to change. I think that Hallmark did a great job with the Aurora Teagarden series and a pretty good one with the Hannah Swenson one. Hannah didn’t look like I pictured, and Norman not only didn’t look like I expected but wasn’t even a serious suitor as in the books. I watch them all anyway.

    1. Yep, the Aurora series is a lot of fun, Sally! It’s tough when the characters don’t resemble the image the books conjure for you, but I’m always curious to see what they’ll do.

  17. Congratulations Dana! I’m so excited for the third movie this weekend. I love the previous movies and hope that more are made. I really like the actors they hired.
    I loved the Mystery Woman series of movies. Those really got me into the Hallmark Channel Mystery Movies.
    I really love that the Hallmark company is giving us new mystery movies from some of our favorite series and I am hoping that they choose even more great series to take from book to movie. I would think most of us mystery lovers would look forward to a new movie each week or two instead of how often they have them now.
    If I was going to pick a book made into a movie I would have to pick “The Princess Bride”. I just love this movie! It’s really the perfect move and I think that is why it’s a classic that will be loved by all ages forever. I think I’ve watched it at least a hundred times.


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