Soap…Novels…What's the Difference?

Yesterday, the New York Times reported on a real book with a fake author, but there’s no scandal involved. Last fall, as part of a storyline on All My Children, perfume magnate Kendall Hart decided to try her hand at a little novel writing. Two months later, the book, Charm!, was published on the TV show–and in real life, too. It’s sold over 100,000 copies to date. And, in a few days, you’ll be able to buy a perfume called “Charm,” too.

Amazingly, this synergistic ploy is a copycat (“The Book Is Real Enough. It’s the Author That’s Fake,” by Joanne Kaufman):

These are not the first instances of daytime drama brand extensions, according to Lynn Leahey, editorial director of Soap Opera Digest. Indeed, Kendall’s own mother, Erica Kane, who is played by Susan Lucci, produced the novel "Having it All" in 1997. It too was published in real life by Hyperion.

CBS has pulled the same stunt. In 2002, "Guiding Light" offered "Lorelei’s Guiding Light: An Intimate Diary," "which filled in the blanks of a character’s life during a period when she wasn’t with the show," said Ms. Leahey. In 2006, "As the World Turns" came out with "Oakdale Confidential," which dealt with the past of a character, Katie Peretti, who was credited on the cover as co-author.

Perhaps Ms. Peretti was a role model for Marcie Walsh, the police department receptionist on ABC’s "One Life to Live," who two years ago was credited with "The Killing Club," a best-selling mystery that was published by Hyperion. (The actual author was the soap’s head writer at the time, Michael Malone. Later, a "One Life to Live" character known as Hayes bought a copy of "The Killing Club" on an episode of the show and began bumping off members of the local populace based on methods used in the book.)




About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

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