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Hello mystery fans! I have something a bit different for you this week. Sometimes while waiting for an author I love’s next book, I will go in search of what they’ve announced and discover that they’re working on something completely different. Like a TV show. Getting to watch a show or film an author has written (not necessarily an adaptation of their work) feels like bonus content. Plus, for anyone struggling to read during the absolute garbage fire that is 2020, this may offer you some viewing options. Or maybe you’ve seen one of these shows/films and didn’t know one of the writers had great novels, and now you have even more to add to your TBR. Either way, here are some of my favorite dual writers of novels and TV/Film.
Let’s start with Attica Locke, who I discovered was one of the writers for Empire (Cookie!) after having read her Jay Porter legal series and standalone The Cutting Season and needed more of her writing. Since then her TV writing credits have only grown! Not only is Locke one of our best crime writers today (run to read Bluebird, Bluebird if you’ve yet to), she also wrote on Ava DuVernay’s Netflix mini-series When They See Us (trailer) based on the true crime case of the Central Park/Exonerated Five. And she wrote on Hulu’s adaptation of Celeste Ng’s novel Little Fires Everywhere (trailer) starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon. So you have five novels, a network show, and two streaming mini-series to marathon. Make popcorn.
Megan Abbott writes about girls and women in a way that always gets under my skin and stays (in a brilliant way) while writing about all the complexities of being a teenager and woman. And her novels usually have an obsession or unique “community” like gymnastics in You Will Know Me and a research lab studying premenstrual dysphoric disorder in Give Me Your Hand. She also wrote great noir novels in which she went all feminist on the genre, my favorite stood-up-and-clapped-when-I-finished being Queenpin. While you may already know that she wrote on her own USA Network series adaptation of her cheerleading crime novel Dare Me (trailer), you may not know that she was also story editor for HBO’s The Deuce (trailer), set in set in 1970s/’80s New York City, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Franco. Which means you have nine novels, a crime graphic novel (Normandy Gold), and two shows to marathon.
Deacon King Kong is not only one of my top crime reads this year, but it’s one of my favorite reads period, which sent me on a mission to read more James McBride. And that’s how I discovered that one of his previous novels, The Good Lord Bird, is a Showtime limited series that will premiere in October starring Ethan Hawke — and for fans of Daveed Diggs, he plays Frederick Douglass (trailer). The story is set right before the Civil War and follows a young slave and a group of abolitionist soldiers. Lucky for readers McBride has an extensive catalog of novels, nonfiction, and memoir to dive into.
Here’s the author that started this whole fall down this rabbit hole: Gillian Flynn. Yes, she’s known for the did-you-see-that-coming novel and screenplay film adaptation of Gone Girl. But she also adapted Lynda La Plante’s novel Widows (trailer) with Steve McQueen into an awesome heist film starring Viola Davis. And it turns out Flynn’s latest project is Utopia (trailer), a conspiracy thriller series starring John Cusack, Rainn Wilson, and Sasha Lane, coming soon to Amazon Prime. So if you’ve been waiting for her next novel, which she briefly hinted at a while back, you can at least watch some of her stuff in the meantime. If you’ve yet to read Flynn’s before Gone Girl work, Dark Places is one of the only crime novels I’ve read where I didn’t figure out the solve.
And here’s some TV show writing overlap: Lisa Lutz, who wrote the great dark comedy PI series The Spellmans, was also on the writing team for HBO’s The Deuce and USA Network’s Dare Me. So if you’ve yet to discover Izzy Spellman, the P.I. working at her parents’ firm, you have six novels to marathon.