"I have this project, but I can't give you any details yet. Do you think you might be interested?"
Um, yes. If Amazon asks, my answer is most likely always going to be yes (I think they are the best people to be in a partnership with). Over a year ago this was how my editor at Montlake approached me. He said he would tell me more when he could and that period of time kept stretching and stretching until he finally sort of told me what it was about. It would be a new type of technology. It would be like having movie clips or GIFs inside my story.
Confession time – I love (LOVE) movies and TV. I'm always envious of how an actor can convey something with a single look or touch that it might take me paragraphs to describe (and even then the reader may not perceive it the way that I'm imagining it) and I've always wanted to write and sell a TV or movie script that actually got made. I could only imagine how powerful it would be to watch your words be acted out. So getting the chance to write something that would have visuals? It really was like a dream come true.
My editor wanted me to write a novella about a heroine who goes out with different men but is falling in love with one in particular. We batted some ideas around and I settled on the story that is currently the basis for ROYAL DESIGN.
I actually wrote this book pretty quickly. In about four days. I thought about it for a long time, outlined it, and then it all came together. Brevity is not my strong point, but I'd written a novella just prior to this (my very first time), which made it easier the second time (although it was a stretch to stay under the word limit).
Then the really fun part of this project started. I got on the phone with the director/producer, and this was her first time getting to film something like this for Amazon and to say we were both like giddy fangirls is underselling our level of excitement. She loved my characters the same way that I did. She asked how involved I wanted to be, and my answer was a lot, and so it began. (I actually got teased when they would send me something, because I would immediately go over it and read every part of it so that when we got on a conference call I had already practically memorized it).
I wrote up a character list, describing all of the characters physically. My favorite part was the celebrity comparisons (I imagined Enzo as a young Joe Manganiello crossed with Ryan Guzman and Bellamy as a Kristin Kreuk type, and Gray Porter as a lost Hemsworth brother). These bios were sent over to an agency, and we were sent back a massive document with all these different shots of various candidates (we were choosing one girl and four guys). Lots of expressions and poses for us to look over.
When I saw Francis Cadieux, I knew right away he was Enzo. Even though his physical description didn't match what I had initially envisioned for the character (Enzo started out with hazel eyes and black hair; Francis has dark brown hair and blue eyes), it was like I saw him and that was it. I had a similar reaction for the character of Bellamy – there was a girl who almost fit the vision I had in my head. I made up a list of about five finalists for each role and then compared those with my editor and director. We all seemed to have pretty similar lists.
On my finalist list I had Frances Cadieux (who did play Enzo), Adrian Amas (marked as my fave and he played James Cruz) and Becky Boggs for Bellamy (she didn't look how I had initially envisioned Bellamy, but there was something about her that made her stand out). I also thought Dane Johnson could play either Oliver Reynolds or Gray Porter (and he did play Gray!). The only one I didn't pick out from the initial group who made the final cut was Mark Conte (he played Oliver).
Then the director was off to New York to do screen tests with our finalists. She sat through auditions that made me very glad I am not an actor or a model. They had to do some embarrassing stuff, but I guess if you do it a lot you probably get used to it. She sent me all their clips and told me based on the screen tests who she thought the best ones would be. And she was a hundred percent right (apparently my initial selection for Bellamy was a total bust when it came to acting) and I loved her choices, and we managed to sign everyone we wanted for the shoot.
There were storyboards and schedules made up. A Pinterest board for lighting and mood. It was all so very cool. And then there were wardrobe fittings and locations and hair and makeup and all these technical crew people brought on. My director went back to New York to film. I jokingly said I wanted to hide in her suitcase and come along, but if she had said that I could come and watch, I seriously would have hopped on the next flight to New York just to sit quietly and see all this happening. (Thankfully throughout my director sent me pics of everything. Even though I didn't get to tag along to New York, she certainly made me feel like I was there!)
But the hardest part? I couldn't tell anyone. I wasn't allowed to post anything. I had to keep all of these amazing events to myself. When a Kindle in Motion debuted from another author with a different Amazon publishing line, and everyone was oohing and aahing over it, it was so hard to say nothing! And I really wanted to share. Like when I got this video from the cast that my director took for me the first morning of shooting. Do you know how badly I wanted to post this on Facebook and be like, "Look! Those are the people playing my characters saying hi to me! Ack!" I was so, so excited. I probably watched it like twenty times that first morning.
It was weird, but I felt this sort of kinship to the actors playing these characters. I loved hearing fun, behind-the-scenes type stuff. Like how Becky didn't have her ears pierced, and I have several points in the story where I talk about Bellamy and her earrings as she gets ready for an event (I think they had to tape them on) and how adorable and sweet Becky was (much like Bellamy!) That Francis and Becky genuinely seemed to enjoy each other and had a fun time (like Enzo and Bellamy!). Dane was chatty on set. Adrian absolutely killed not only the comedy of his character, but the not-as-nice parts, too. Mark let them shave the sides of his head to better match Oliver's description (and while he hadn't played soccer, he had experience with a hacky sack and used those skills). Francis was very professional and committed to getting his scenes right, and during a sad one he had them play sad music so that he could get into that moment. (And can that boy smolder!)
Then...then the actual clips started pouring in. Some of them were still like rough drafts, but I could see where they were going and what would happen when they were done. Some I couldn't envision at all, and when I saw the final cuts, so many emotions! They were amazing. Some made me laugh out loud (I actually sat here and laughed, even though I had written the words and knew what was coming), some made me sigh with sappy romanticism, some made me react like a giggly little schoolgirl. It was surreal.
It was everything I wanted it to be. Everything that I could have possibly hoped for (insert thesaurus synonyms here – it was stupendous! Fabulous! Fantastic! etc., etc.). I think the only way it could have been any better is if they'd made a full-length movie out of it. Seeing the chemistry between the leads, their romantic moments, watching their facial expressions as they became these characters – it was incredible. Everyone (cast, crew, all the people at Montlake and Amazon) involved did such an amazing job.
TL;DR – Making a Kindle in Motion book was amazing and awesome.
You should definitely check it out. ROYAL DESIGN