by Gayle Lynds: Meet my friend Anthony Franze: He’s a dazzling legal thriller author who specializes in one of the most fascinating pieces of the American justice pie — the U.S. Supreme Court. As soon as I read his debut, The Last Justice, I was hooked. Since then he’s published two more irresistible reads — The Advocate’s Daughter and The Outsider.
How can he lay bare the inner quirks, routines, and relationships of one of the most closely held systems in the country? Because he’s there, right there at the top, working in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice of a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm.
He’s also funny and self-effacing and really smart (well, you probably figured that out already). As cofounder (with David Morrell) of International Thriller Writers, I’m particularly delighted to let you know he’s also a vice president of the ITW board of directors.
Thanks for joining us, Anthony. We’re thrilled about your new TV deal and that we were able to twist your arm to give us the inside scoop. Take it away, Anthony….
Anthony Franze: I’m all for humble bragging during the holidays. At the same time, I was a little concerned about jinxing the recent TV deal for my novel, The Outsider. But my friends at Rogue Women Writers asked me to fill you in about the production, so here I am. Since Christmas is a time for surprises (for those who celebrate), I thought I’d write about four things that surprised me about my recent exposure to La La Land.
1. Family and friends were impressed by the deal; writers not so much. In September, the Hollywood trades announced that “NBC has given a script commitment plus penalty to The Outsider, a legal thriller set in the powerful but often secretive world of the Supreme Court as seen through the eyes of their clerks, the young twentysomethings who struggle to balance their messy personal lives against the incredible demands of their jobs.” Friends and family gushed on Facebook, a national paper ran a story about it, and the Supreme Court community had fun on Twitter trolling about potential plotlines for the series.
|Bouchercon party! Anthony Franze with friends.|
But at the Bouchercon mystery conference a couple weeks later, my writer friends were more circumspect. Don’t get too excited, they said in different and subtle ways. Wet blankets? Yes. But they’ve seen how these things can go down—options languishing, projects shelved—and just didn’t want me opening my stocking to a pile of coal. Call me optimistic, but I think it’s gonna happen. But in the coming months, watch this space (and NBC’s fall lineup) to see if the Grinch stole more than Christmas.
2. Things move faster in television. Anyone who’s worked with a New York publisher knows
|Phoey on the Grinch!|
that things move slowly. Painfully so. For instance, it was more than two years from the date my publisher acquired my novel, The Advocate’s Daughter, until it hit bookstores. But once a television show goes into production things move quickly. I learned the network had given script commitment in September, I had calls with the production team and met with the showmaker/writer in October, and the first script was done in November. If things go as hoped, the rest will happen, including filming the pilot, in the next few months.
3. They care about getting it right. I’m a lawyer and I can’t tell you how often movies and television get things wrong about lawyers, the law, and the justice system. I imagine doctors say the same thing about medical shows, cops about police procedurals, and so on. I was therefore surprised at the care the TV team spent on accuracy and authenticity for The Outsider. In addition to being true to my book, the writer seemed to have read every major work on the high court. He came to Washington, D.C. for a week, got behind-the-scene tours of the Supreme Court and Capitol, met with Supreme Court insiders, and had back-to-back meetings into the night. Entertaining the audience is always the number-one goal, he said, but that can go hand-in-hand with authenticity, or at least not making mistakes that may take viewers out of the story.
4. A TV adaptation may not sell books. I had assumed that once it hits the airwaves, a profile-raising show would ramp up book sales or perhaps add leverage in negotiations for my next contract. My literary agent—who without exaggeration is one of the best in the business—tempered expectations. Apparently publishers have learned that even hit film or television adaptations don’t always translate to book sales. Her advice: enjoy the ride, have fun talking about the show at holiday parties, but get back to work and write the best book I have in me.
With that, I’d better get back to my laptop. Happy holidays to all, and to all a goodnight.
|The U.S. Supreme Court on a wintry night.|