When the call came, that I had been chosen to pen an official ITV Cold Feet novel, I was both excited and nervous. Could I stay true to the emotional undertones of the hit show, whilst retaining my own writing voice? Could I write a second novel in one year without falling onto the floor a gibbering mess?
How often do we bemoan books that have been torn apart by Hollywood, losing the very core of what made them special? More often than not, we conclude that the movie is never as good as the book. In fairness, the task of turning a 400-page novel into a two-hour feature, whilst staying faithful to the plot is a tough ask.
Two major plot lines in Jojo Moyes Me Before You were omitted in the movie. And as a result, it lost its emotional depth for me. Have you read Winston Groom’s Forrest Gump? Well you might be surprised to know that in the book Jenny doesn’t die! And Jodi Picoult fans were all amazed to see the wrong sister die in the movie version of My Sister’s Keeper!
There are always wonderful exceptions to the rule. The Lord of the Ring trilogy, is without doubt a masterpiece both in book and on film. This weekend, I’m off to see IT, with my family, who are like me, huge Stephen King fans. I’ll keep you posted …
But can it work in reverse?
Novelisations – where a book is penned from TV and movies scripts are extremely popular. Regular best-sellers with cult followings – some are even more beloved than the original media that spawned them! I’m looking at you Star Wars, Star Trek and Superman.
There’s even a novelisation of the movie Great Expectations. Yep, I said movie! The one starring Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Bancroft and Robert De Niro. And the cover of the book reads, “Novelisation by Deborah Chiel, based on the novel by Charles Dickens, based on the motion picture written by Mitch Glazer.”
Easy for them to say.
Cold Feet The Lost Years, however, was to be an original novel, that bridged the gap between the end of Series 5 in 2003 and Series 6 in 2016. Unlike the novelisations listed above, I had to create a new plot, using beloved characters, whilst staying true to Mike Bullen’s TV show.
This was similar in concept to a book written by award winning and bestselling author Sebastian Faulks. In 2008, Faulks wrote a James Bond continuation novel, published by Penguin Books. This was written to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ian Fleming, Bonds creator. In Devil May Care, Faulks took the same time frame as Fleming, setting the novel in England, in 1967 following on from the events in Fleming’s last novel The Man with the Golden Gun.
Well, if Faulks could do it, so could I, right? Ahem … gibbering mess alert …
My first stumbling block came when my editor asked me for a detailed chapter by chapter outline. Mike Bullen wanted to approve my storyline, before I started to write.
All of the fears for that one, my friends! You see I’ve always been a pantser rather than a plotter.
I binged watched the entire show. Then I wrote a family tree, so I could get all the relationships straight in my head. And I realised that there were some gaps. Adam’s parents were a mystery. We met Bill, Adam’s father, towards the end of Series 5. But where was Adam’s mother? I called Mike and found out that she didn’t exist, in TV land at least. Blessing was given to me to create a back story for Adam’s family. This gave me huge scope for my story and the exploration of parents, and how they influence us in later life, became one of the central themes.
I was particularly interested in Adam’s relationship with women. A former womaniser, deep in grief following the horrific death of his wife Rachel, but also mourning the loss of a mother for his young son Matthew. How had his childhood impacted on his adult life?
Mary, Adam’s mother began to whisper to me and soon other new characters followed suit, giving further insights into our beloved Adam, Pete, Jenny, Karen and David.
Mike gave me full creative control – in his words, he had sent his babies to spend the summer with their Irish foster mother. All I had to do was make sure I returned them to him, fit and well, ready for the new series, which has just started on ITV and TV3.
Writing this book was a lot of fun, immersing myself into the world of characters that I love to watch on TV. Complex, real, honest, relatable and funny people. What a starting point for any author!
The downside was the short timeframe to get the novel written. And at the same time, I had final edits and then promotional work to do on my fifth novel The Woman at 72 Derry Lane. Oh boy. Much gibbering.
I had no choice but to spend several weeks away from home, writing from early morning to late night. Thank goodness for an understanding and supportive family!
Sacrifices were made. I turned down things that I wanted to say yes to.
Was it worth it? Hell yes! Seeing Cold Feet The Lost Years join The Woman at 72 Derry Lane, out there in the wild this year, makes every late night worthwhile.
(c) Carmel Harrington
About Cold Feet – The Lost Years:
All the love. All the drama. All you missed.
Reeling from the sudden death of Rachel, his beloved wife, Adam has no time to grieve. He has to keep going, for the sake of their baby son.
Jenny moves back in with ex-husband Pete, eight and a half months pregnant with another man’s child. Can their relationship overcome past jealousies?
Karen and David agree to an amicable divorce – but that’s before he sleeps with the divorce lawyer . . .
The Lost Years reveals what happened to your favourite characters between series five and six of the award-winning TV series written by Mike Bullen. It’s an irresistible chance to catch up on all the laughter, the tears, the life lessons we missed while they were gone.
Order your copy online here.