In this the last segment of my article series “From the Page to the Small Screen” the following are just a sample of a few other books that have been made into TV shows over the last few years.
Following in the popular vein of vampire-themed TV shows, The Vampire Diaries – based on the young adult horror novels by L. J. Smith – debuted on The CW in the 2009-2010 TV season, garnering an amorous following. Under the guidance of Kevin Williamson (the man behind the Scream movies as well as the TV series Dawson’s Creek) and Julie Plec (the woman behind the popular ABC Family Channel series Kyle XY), the story of Elena Gilbert and the Salvatore brothers came to life on the small screen, charming, delighting and, at times, horrifying audiences around the globe.
The basic premise of the TV series is that Stefan Salvatore (portrayed by actor Paul Wesley), a vampire for the past 160 plus years, returns to Mystic Falls, Virginia (his original home) because of his fascination with teenager Elena Gilbert (portrayed by actress Nina Dobrev), who looks exactly like his former love Katherine Pierce (also portrayed by actress Nina Dobrev), the vampire who turned him and his brother. A relationship quickly blossoms between Elena and Stefan, with Elena learning the truth about him and his brother Damon (portrayed by actor Ian Somerhalder) while a multitude of other revelations were made over the past season and a half, including Elena’s best friend Bonnie (portrayed by actress Katerina Graham) being a witch; new history teacher (and secret vampire hunter) Alaric Saltzman (portrayed by actor Matt Davis) being the “widowed” husband of Elena’s biological mother and high school athletic star Tyler Lockwood (portrayed by actor Michael Trevino) being a werewolf (among many others).
Whereas, in The Vampire Diaries novels, a number of the characters’ names are different as are their outward appearances and even their relationships to each other are different In addition, the ancestral home of the Salvatore brothers is Italy not Virginia. Other cases in point: In the books, Elena Gilbert is actually blonde and blue eyed but the actress who plays this character has an olive-skin complexion with long dark hair and dark-colored eyes; Elena’s best friend Bonnie has red hair and pale skin in the books, but is African American in the TV show; and in the books Elena has a very young sister named Margaret, but in the show she has a slightly younger brother Jeremy (portrayed by actor Steven R. McQueen). Despite the many differences between the TV series and the book series, both seem popular with fans.
Other main cast members of the show include: Sara Canning, who plays Elena and Jeremy’s Aunt Jenna and their legal guardian (due to the death of their parents); Candice Accola, who plays Caroline Forbes, a friend of Elena and Bonnie and daughter of the town sheriff, who was turned into a vampire at the beginning of season 2 by Katherine and Zach Roerig, who plays Matt Donovan, Elena’s former boyfriend, who is now romantically linked with Caroline.
To learn more about The Vampire Diaries TV series, please visit here.
The book series was originally published in 1991 as a trilogy, but because of fan requests L.J. Smith wrote a fourth volume the following year. The four novels in the original series were The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury and Dark Reunion with the first three books being focused on Elena Gilbert and Stefan Salvatore while the fourth book was centered on Elena’s friend Bonnie.
In 2007, L. J. Smith announced she was doing a spin-off trilogy entitled The Vampire Diaries: The Return with Damon Salvatore as the focal point. The first book in this collection was released in February 2009 entitled The Return: Nightfall with the next book The Return: Shadow Souls coming out in May of last year and the final book The Return: Midnight coming out last week (March 15, 2011).
Another new trilogy of books – called The Hunters series – will feature Stefan and Elena (and the rest of the characters) as they go off to college. Those books will be entitled The Hunter: Phantom, The Hunters: Moonsong and The Hunters: Eternity. These books are expected to be released sometime this summer.
There is yet another set of books – these based on the TV series and NOT written by L. J. Smith – called Stefan’s Diaries which focuses on the Salvatore brothers lives during the Civil War and how Katherine Pierce turned the brothers into vampires. Those three novels are called Stefan’s Diaries: Origins, which was released this past November, Stefan’s Diaries: Bloodlust, which was released in January of this year, and Stefan’s Diaries: The Craving, which is expected to be on the bookshelves in May of this year.
To learn more about The Vampire Diaries series of books, visit here.
To learn more about author L.J. Smith, visit here.
Next up is the now defunct CBS military drama The Unit, which was based on the Eric Haney novel called Inside Delta Force that was published in 2002. The series focused on a top-secret military unit modeled after the real-life U.S. Army special operations unit commonly known as Delta Force. The series aired for four seasons on CBS from 2006 to 2009 under the guidance of Executive Producers David Mamet and Shawn Ryan.
The cast included the following: Dennis Haysbert, who played Sergeant Major Jonas Blane; Regina Taylor, who played Molly Blane (Jonas’ wife); Scott Foley, who played Sergeant First Class Bob Brown; Audrey Marie Anderson, who played Kim Brown (Bob’s wife); Max Martini, who played Master Sergeant Mack Gerhardt; Abby Brammell as Tiffy Gerhardt (Mack’s wife); Michael Irby, who played Sergeant First Class Charles Grey and Robert Patrick, who played Brigadier General Thomas Ryan. Demore Barnes played Sergeant First Class Hector Williams who was killed during a mission in season two. In the final season of the show a new member of The Unit was introduced – Warrant Officer Bridget Sullivan, being played by Nicole Steinwedell.
To learn more about The Unit TV series, please visit here.
The author of Inside Delta Force – Eric Haney – is a retired member of the United States Army counterterrorist unit otherwise known as Delta Force. This book was a memoir of his time in this elite unit of the military and he served as a co-executive producer on the TV show based on his novel and also worked as a technical consultant on the David Mamet 2004 film Spartan.
To learn more about author Eric Haney, please visit here.
Lastly, there is the CW series Gossip Girl that is based on the book series of the same name written by Cecily von Ziegesar and created for TV by Executive Producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (the team behind The O.C.). The series debuted on the CW in September of 2007 and is currently in its fourth season.
The series is narrated by the omniscient yet unseen blogger known as “Gossip Girl” – which is voiced by actress Kristen Bell (from Veronica Mars fame) – and revolves around the lives of privileged young adults on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in New York City. The main cast of the series includes: Blake Lively, who plays “It” girl Serena van der Woodsen; Leighton Meester, who plays queen bee and longtime friend/occasional rival of Serena, Blair Waldorf; Ed Westwick, who plays resident bad boy Chuck Bass; Chace Crawford, who plays “Golden boy,” best friend of Chuck and ex-boyfriend/lover to both Blair and Serena, Nate Archibald; Penn Badgley, who plays a friend of Nate’s as well as Serena’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Dan Humphrey; Jessica Szohr, who plays Dan’s best friend Vanessa Abrams and Taylor Momsen, who plays Dan’s younger sister Jenny. The cast also includes Kelly Rutherford, who plays Serena’s mother and Matthew Settle, who plays Jenny and Dan’s dad.
To learn more about the Gossip Girl TV series, please visit here.
As for the Gossip Girl book series, the first book in the collection – Gossip Girl – was published in April of 2001. That was followed by You Know You Love Me, released in September 2002; All I Want is Everything, which came out in May of 2003; Because I’m Worth It, which was released in October of 2003; I Like It Like That, released in May of 2004; You’re the One That I Want, released in October of 2004; Nobody Does It Better, which was released in May of 2005; Nothing Can Keep Us Together, which was released in October of 2005.
NOTE: See further below for details on The It-Girl series of spin-off books from this particular Gossip Girl installment.
The remaining Gossip Girl books include Only in Your Dreams, released in May of 2006; Would I Lie to You?, released in October of 2006; Don’t You Forget About Me, which was released in May of 2007; It Had To Be You, which was released in October of 2007 and I Will Always Love You, released in November 2009.
There was a series of spin-off series from the Gossip Girl novels called The Carlyles. The first in the series – The Carlyles – was released in May of 2008 followed by You Just Can’t Get Enough, which was released in October of 2008; Take a Chance on Me, released in May of 2009 and Love the One You’re With, released in October of 2009.
The It-Girl books include the title book, which was released in 2005 followed by Notorious and Reckless in 2006; Unforgettable and Lucky both released in 2007; Tempted and Infamous both released in 2008; Adored and Devious both released in 2009 and ending with Classic, which was released last year.
To learn more about the Gossip Girl novels and the spin-off books, please visit here.
To read more about author Cecily von Ziegesar, please visit here.
Are there any book series that you have enjoyed reading that have been made into a TV series that were not covered in this series of articles? Please share.