Hallmark Channel premieres this new movie, based on Number 1 national best-selling author Marina Adair’s book, Saturday, October 8th
There are more than 60 million romance fiction fans in this country, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at what movies get made these days. There is one prominent exception—Hallmark Channel puts out romance movies all year long, and this Saturday they’ll release the second in their Fall Harvest, Autumn in the Vineyard. It’s based on the 2013 book of the same name by Marina Adair from her St. Helena Vineyard Series.
Producers showed interest in this book as soon as it came out, but Adair had to wait three years to see it realized. Now that it has, she’s thrilled with the production team and says it’s “well worth the wait. I lucked out with a great team of producers, and an amazing cast.” Rachael Leigh Cook plays the lead role, Frankie Baudouin, and Brendan Penny plays her love/hate interest Nate DeLuca.
Justifiably excited about the approaching premiere, Adair also saw an opportunity for cross promotion and sharing the largess, so to speak. Says Adair, “When the air date for the movie was announced, I thought it was the perfect time to expand and grow my Kindle World.” So, Adair put together a 17-author powerhouse group to create stories in her fictitious world and to help promote both the books and the movie.
For anyone who doesn’t know what Kindle Worlds is (and that included this author prior to getting the exciting call to action), it is quite simply legal fan fiction. The brainchild of Amazon, Kindle Worlds allows anyone to write stories inspired by popular franchises (be it book, television, or movie) without fear of being sued for copyright infringement. And everyone involved gets a cut of the sales. Massively popular on the Internet, fan fiction can now be done legally with a potential upside for all parties.
There are downsides too—the franchise author gives up some control of the characters and settings they’ve worked so hard to create. Adair already faced that concern with the making of Autumn in the Vineyard. She says, “I think all authors wonder how much of their story, if any, will remain the same. But once I met the producer all of those worries disappeared. It was the heart of the story that he connected with and wanted to show, and that calmed any lingering concern I may have had.”
I asked Adair if she worried that the quality of the fan fiction stories would reflect on her work, especially given that once the Kindle World is established anyone can write in it provided certain requirements are met. She said, “No. I look at fan fiction the same was I do film adaptations. It is that writer’s interpretation and story set within my world. It is the same when people read my work. I don’t have control over how they picture my characters, or what they take from my story because they read through a filter created from their own experiences in life.”
However, authors writing in Kindle Worlds, have been stigmatized in the past. One of the powerhouse 18, Reina Torres (Finding Home) got her start writing fan faction. “I’ve written it for years. And sometimes you talk to someone and say those two words and you see this cringe or a sour twist of their mouth. That’s one of the stigmas, the idea that it’s all terrible, gum-on-the-soles-of-your-shoes fiction.” But Torres believes it’s all about love, that people write fan fiction because they love a series so much they don’t want it to end, noting, “Now with Kindle Worlds, we can have more!”
And Readers agree. Linda Viljoen of South Africa is a KW fan already. She likes “the way Kindle World books create a community. You meet all these wonderful characters in the original books and with authors collaborating in Kindle Worlds, these characters get their own stories. I love reading about the whole family or group of friends/co-workers and getting to know what happens to them in their lives.”
But what motivates an already established author to write in a Kindle World? The reasons vary but all hinge of the uniqueness of the opportunity. Says, Kelly Moran (Love thy Neighbor), “Marina and I go way back to her first book contract and mine. We write in similar styles and I adore her Vineyard series. The opportunity to pen fan fiction (new to me) and collaborate with her (a dear friend) was just something I couldn’t pass up. From gaining new readers to writing in a setting/series I love, no wasn’t a possibility.”
Trust is another reason authors said yes. Says Mollie Cox Bryan (The Beekeeper’s Bride), “I trust and admire Marina and knew that any of the writers she selected to be a part of this would be great to work with—and that has certainly been the case. The second part is that I’m a mystery author and thought it would be fun to stretch my skills a bit, outside of my genre—and it was!” Others like Grace Conley (St. Helena Holiday) were already so familiar with the St. Helena Vineyard series that “it was easy to imagine a story within the world.”
USA Today best-selling author Kelsey Browning (Love so Sweet) had a slightly different take, noting that it was freeing not having to create an entire world infrastructure: “It was like getting to play in a very creative and talented kid’s sandbox because Marina left so many great toys in the St. Helena world. Ida Beamon and Mittens the alpaca are two of my favorites, and they each rated a mention or cameo in my novella.” And Mittens, played by Larry the Lama (because alpacas are too difficult to work with) will have an important role in the upcoming movie.
Lastly, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Sharon Hamilton notes another advantage: “The KW experience is great for cross promotion. Each author has their own sphere of influence, and readers. We pool them into one when we do joint promotions with the other authors. The nice thing is that we start with a book, in this case Marina’s, which is a bestseller already. We know her readers like it. So we take those parts and create something with our own voice and spin in her same world. The idea is that if readers like her book, then they’ll like a book using some of the same characters and world.”
So how successful is this cross-over promotion for the movie? Reader Viljoen enthuses, “I was excited about the movie as Marina shared info as well as some of her pictures with her followers on Facebook.” All 18 authors have helped spread the word about the movie as they publicized their own book. This in turn helps sell everyone’s books in the series.
So how are they selling? All 19 St. Helena Vineyard Series novellas (some wrote two) went on sale October 5th and early signs are that the launch is a big success with both writers and readers. Anecdotally, several readers let us know they bought all 19. Perrin, from California, said her reason was that “I might find some other authors that I’ll enjoy, and at $1.99, the books are affordable, for me. There are authors who are working their fingers to the bone trying to get their break into the Romance genre. I’m all about helping/supporting people with this drive and determination.”
Pamela Reveal from Ohio also bought the entire set, although usually she only buys authors she knows that have crossed over into Kindle Worlds. It sounds like her enthusiasm for the movie spurred her to buy them all. She notes, “I have always enjoyed Hallmark movies, and watch them over and over. When I saw that some of my authors were writing in this world and it was for a movie on Hallmark I was very excited about getting their books.”
The numbers also point to success. By the end of the first day, all 19 St. Helena Vineyard KW novellas had made it to the top 100 Kindle World bestseller list with two of our authors alternating the number one spot throughout the day. In the KW Hot New Romance Releases 11 of ours were in the top 25.
There are other less tangible rewards too. T.M. Cromer (Picture This) says that working “with these other talented ladies was not only fun, but enlightening. Each of us worked together in unison like a well-oiled machine. Those with more experience helped those who were newer in the industry. The combined know-how and talent of 18 people made this project a blast. Each has strengths they contributed to make this launch a success for all of us. I’m grateful Marina chose me to be among this elite group of women. The whole process was empowering.
Jen Doyle (Crush) says she got her start writing regular fan fiction, but when KW came along “it didn’t feel like the right venue for me. Until Marina approached me about this project. To pay homage to a writer and series I LOVE was the most amazing experience ever, and it was an honor to write in her world. The only concern I had was not living up to the standard she’d created.” For me, Kate Allure, it was an incredible experience working with and learning from all these amazing authors and meeting such great romance fans from around the world.
But it was Marina Adair who brought us all together and she should get the final word: “This experience has been wonderful. The St Helena Kindle World launch has allowed me the opportunity to work with other authors who I have wanted to collaborate with for years. I have cemented friendships and created a place where other authors can cross promote and network to advance their own careers.”
Watch Autumn in the Vineyard this Saturday night
Hallmark Channel 9pm Eastern Time
Movie Synopsis; Frankie is determined to turn Sorrento Ranch into an award-winning winery and Nate shares the same dream. But they don’t exactly have a trusting relationship ever since Nate embarrassed her with a kiss in front of the entire town. So when Nate finds himself forced to cooperate with Frankie in order to make their dreams come true, sparks fly.
Hallmark Photo Credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs
St. Helena Vineyard KW