While Occupy Wall Street and the 99% was out in full force tonight, the feeling of 1% was about at the Times Center, where TNT was hosting its Mystery Movie Night. For those who do not know what TNT’s Mystery Movie Night is, it is a showcase of popular authors whose works have made transitions onto the big screen. Household names such as Sandra Brown, Mary & Carol Higgins Clark, Richard North Patterson, April Smith, and Lisa Gardner were authors whose works became these television movies that will air throughout the end of November towards the end of December before Christmas. The event took place at the New York Times Center.
Starting off the event, we were treated to cocktails (and an open bar, which everyone was mobbing).
The event tonight, showcased the first movie on TNT’s movie lineup, and that was Scott Turow’s Innocent. Innocent is about a Judge who is being investigated for the death of his wife, whom while died of “natural causes,” does not tamp the suspicions of the District Attorneys as he [Pullman] was declared innocent in the death of his mistress 20 years ago. Innocent is also Mr. Turow’s sequel to his book, Presumed Innocent.
From the Mystery Movie Night page on TNT:
Bill Pullman (Independence Day, Torchwood) stars as Rusty Sabich, a judge charged with the murder of his wife, a situation that comes 20 years after he was cleared in the death of his mistress. During this latest trial, a secret affair from Rusty’s recent past threatens to hamper his defense and fracture his relationship with his son. Oscar® winner Marcia Gay Harden (Pollack, Damages) plays Rusty’s wife, while Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2, Law & Order: LA) is his friend and defense attorney. Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse) is hot-headed prosecutor Jim Brand. Emmy® winner Richard Schiff (The West Wing, The Lost World: Jurassic Park), Callard Harris (Glory Daze, Intermedio) and Mariana Klaveno (True Blood, While the Children Sleep) also star.
Before the screening of the first 20 minutes of Innocent, we were treated to a lovely Q&A led by Entertainment Weekly’s Senior Editor Tina Jordan. She and the authors discussed novels that they have written throughout their career, the ways that came about the writing of their works (motivation, technique, purpose, etc…), and then fielded questions from both the audience, as well as online questions that was submitted by Amazon.com’s book club.
Having not brought a recording device to transcribe anything, I opted to put my hearing to test, and of course, my writing. The Q&As aren’t quite verbatim, so there will be no quoting unless in actual quotation marks, and paraphrased otherwise.
Tina Jordan asks Scott Turow (Innocent) in the first Q&A about casting, and whether or not he had a specific actor/actress in mind for his characters in the movie. Scott (Innocent) replies that he saw Harrison Ford as Rusty, however the role later went to Bill Pullman. Sandra Brown (Ricochet) says that she never sees anyone playing a specific part in her movie. April Smith (Good Morning, Killer) says that Catherine Bell was a perfect cast as F.B.I. Agent Ana Gray, and that she was always afraid of casting a wrong character for her movie. Richard North Patterson (Silent Witness) mentioned for Silent Witness, one of the people at the audition did not quite fit his perception of a role, but won him over during their screen test, and Lisa Gardner (Hide) totally pictured Carla Gugino as Detective D.D. Warren so it worked out well for her.
T.J. (for Sandra Brown): You started in Romance, what made you switch [to another genre such as Mystery]?
Sandra Brown replied that it was the ‘hot’ thing on the market when she started writing, so she just ran with it and basically made her money writing what people wanted to read. However, in writing strictly Romance, she felt “constraint with the genre back then”. Then she deviated a bit from her answer and said that in writing, when you think up a story, it compels you to “write these stories that end up being [a Mystery novel].” Saying that when you write a story, sometimes the aspects within the story may seem like a mystery novel, so essentially sometimes it may end up being so.
T.J.: The characters in your novel seem to stay with readers afterwards often more so than the plot of the novels themselves. “Are characters more than the plot?”
Richard North Patterson replies that yes, and as a result, he can’t read paper thin books because you have to have resonating events which build character, which in turn creates a story. April Smith replied that in her novel, Detective Ana Gray is a conflicted character, which makes her story because we focus more on her and her fight to keep integrity within the FBI, where she works. Lisa Gardner mentioned that in Hide, she likes to create a good puzzle for her readers, so there was a lot of background research done in preparation for her novels. In chapters of her novels, it usually starts from the POV of the victim (rather interesting, it gives readers more of a backstory to the victim instead of them being just another “dead body”). Richard Patterson also mentions at this point that he likes the “law side” in writing, and when he writes, he has a general picture of how things happen and in writing, “reasons backwards” in order to give us a in depth story.
On character development. Sandra Brown said that she does research by looking at local crimes in her area, although some criminals were too intense for her and she had to abandon the thought, as she did not want to “live with the creepy villain for a year.”
Scott Turow: “There are just some people you rather not spend quality time with.”
April Smith: “Living in the mind of a psychopath is not fun.”
After that, they took questions from the audience which was really nice. They had mics on both ends of the aisle and we were all invited, however they really only had time to answer a few questions, so not everyone had a chance. I could understand that though, if everyone went, the event would have lasted past midnight, tops. The questions that were asked though, the authors were very warm, gracious, and honest. I loved that they told it as it is, and did not sugar coat anything for people who were aspiring writers about the industry.
On distancing themselves from writing intense characters:
Scott Turow: Long shower.
Lisa Gardner: A cathartic ending.
Sandra Brown: It’s fun to write for villains because they’re fun/different. As the oldest of 5, it was good to be the bad girl.
Carol Higgins Clark (Deck the Halls): If someone is mean to you, make them a victim in your book.
On advice for aspiring authors:
Scott Turow: Write. Just write.
Richard North Patterson: Treat writing like a second job. Try to write 5 good pages or for 5 hours. Treat it as an obligation, and commit!
Lisa Gardner: Find a good association to join, such as the Mystery Writers of America.
Richard North Patterson: Share it with a reader so you can get good feedback.
After that, we were then treated to the screening of Innocent. Marcia Gay Harden (Bill Pullman’s wife on Innocent) spoke a little bit about working on Innocent and how much she enjoyed working with the cast. She was even prettier in person than on screen!
While some of it seemed rather predictable, [[Spoiler: the clerk becomes the Judge’s mistress.]] towards the end of the first part, I was enthralled. I wanted to see the rest, and when the lights came on I was rather disappointed that we could not watch it in its entirety. Ah well, much like a good mystery, now we will have to wait until the 29th of November to watch the rest.
Innocent premieres November 29th, 2011 at 9|8c on TNT.
Ricochet – November 30th, 2011 at 9|8c
Hide – December 6th, 2011 at 9|8c
Silent Witness – December 7th, 2011 at 9|8c
Good Morning, Killer – December 13th, 2011 at 9|8c
Deck The Halls – December 20th, 2011 at 9|8c