Behind the Scenes on Set by Alice Hunter | Resources | Developing Your Craft | Write for Stage & Screen
Alice Hunter

Alice Hunter

Author Alice Hunter’s visit to the set for filming the TV series of her crime thriller, The Serial Killer’s Wife . . .

As an author there are many proud and wonderful moments – from seeing the cover art for the first time, to holding the finished novel in your hands, then spotting it adorning the shelves of a bookstore or supermarket. But there are few more surreal than witnessing your characters and story come to life on screen. For me, that dream became a reality when my novel, The Serial Killer’s Wife, was adapted into a television series for Paramount Plus. When I received the news of its adaptation via email just before Christmas in 2022, I was awash with a heady mix of emotions: shock, excitement, pride, and a dose of apprehension. But above all, it was a thrilling prospect knowing that my creation would take on a new form and reach different audiences.

Then came the niggling inner voice of concern: could the essence of the story be captured effectively on screen? With psychological thriller novels, a lot of the narrative involves introspection and internal thoughts – The Serial Killer’s Wife is told from the main character, Beth’s, perspective, and I wondered how the story would translate to visual, external action. Would my characters be portrayed as I imagined them? Who would play them? Well, the last question at least was answered soon enough. When I read the announcement on Deadline, I was utterly thrilled to learn that Annabel Scholey would play Beth – I’m a huge fan of hers, and The Split was one of my favourite TV series, Jack Farthing would play Tom, and Luke Treadaway was set to play Adam. I didn’t think I could be more pleased, but then heard that Angela Griffin – who I’d grown up watching on my screen – would be the lead detective. I was over the moon with such an impressive cast.

The Serial Killer's WifeThe process all happened very quickly. One of the highlights of my experience of novel to screen adaptation was undoubtedly the opportunity to visit the set, witness filming firsthand, and meet the talented individuals bringing my imagination to life. I travelled to Kent with my husband, and he dropped me at the location – Knowlton Court, a stunning country estate – where I waited with nervous anticipation for my literary agent to join me for the exciting day of filming that lay ahead. It was strange standing in the grounds, watching people walking around and wondering who they were and how they were involved in the filming. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed, yet also buzzing. When I was shown to the production trailer and offered a coffee, I drank it while looking up at the display of headshots of the actors with their character names underneath, and then it finally hit me: this had all come about because of a book I’d written. The ‘pinch me’ moments didn’t stop there.

As we made our way through the grounds to the main house – which was Beth and Tom’s place – myself and my agent, Anne Williams, were struck by its grandeur and how different it was to the Cotswolds cottage I’d created for them in the novel. However, it was explained that the scenes using the stately home were largely internal, and so the house wouldn’t seem as big on screen. The huge room all set up for the opening scenes depicting a surprise birthday party for Tom thrown by Beth, meant that the vast crew, actors, and extras could all be accommodated easily. Walking through that room, seeing all the props, lighting, and camera equipment, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe at the scale of the production and the passion of everyone involved.

Sitting behind director, Laura Way, as filming the party scene began, offered me a unique perspective and I gained newfound appreciation for the people involved in the film and TV industry. Each scene was meticulously orchestrated, and I was amazed at the sheer volume of people involved in getting the shot. From lighting to sound, from direction to performance, every element seemed to merge, creating the illusion of reality. It was remarkable, and I loved every moment.

Having the opportunity to speak with the director and producers was an enlightening aspect of my day on set. During a break, they generously gave up their time to offer glimpses behind the curtain of adaptation. I enjoyed finding out how The Serial Killer’s Wife was chosen, how it was pitched and picked up by Paramount Plus, how the scriptwriters and editors worked together to recreate the story, sharing some of their creative choices, as well as the challenges they faced in translating the written word into visual form. As I was undertaking a screenwriting MA at the time, these were invaluable insights.

Seeing actors embody some of the characters I had developed was a surreal experience. It was a thrill to watch them in action, infusing the characters with their own interpretations and nuances. The icing on the cake was meeting the cast. I was introduced to Jack Farthing and Luke Treadaway and managed to speak with Annabel Scholey in between takes on set, then moments before I left, I met Angela Griffin. All were professional and lovely – and, along with the producers, they signed my novel, so I have a wonderful memento to treasure.

The Serial Killer's WifeAs I reflect on my day on set, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to witness a snippet of the transformation of my book into a television series. To see my characters walk and talk was a privilege and an unforgettable experience. It was a reminder that collaborative creativity in the film making process brings visions to life in new, unique ways to ensure audiences resonate with the story unfolding on screen. Having now watched the finished series, I can honestly say I’m thrilled with how it was adapted – readers and viewers can enjoy each medium as both convey the story in diverse ways, offering great entertainment value. I’m proud to have my name attached to both!

(c) Alice Hunter

Order your copy of The Serial Killer’s Wife online here.

Bad Apple by Alice Hunter is published by Avon, out now!

What would you do if you found out the man you loved was rotten to the core?

Prepare to be hooked by Alice Hunter’s addictive new novel – so shocking it should come with a warning…

Trusted officer. Family man. Monster.

Becky Lawson’s life has been shattered.

When she discovered her husband, John – a trusted policeman – was a monster, she reported him. But her faith in the system was crushed when it didn’t lead to any charges or consequences.

Now, John lives freely with a new girlfriend and her young daughter, while Becky battles guilt over missing the obvious signs.

Bad AppleDetermined for justice, Becky hunts him down. But John wants her silenced – at any cost. Becky knows only one of them can survive, and she’ll do anything to make sure it’s her.

Becky must tread carefully though, because John isn’t the only bad apple lurking in the shadows…

A gripping psychological suspense about betrayal, courage, and the darkness that can hide behind a seemingly trustworthy façade. Perfect for fans of K.L. Slater, B.A. Paris and the Netflix hit TV series You.

Order your copy Bad Apple by Alice Hunter online here.

About the author

After completing a psychology degree, Alice Hunter became an interventions facilitator in a prison. There, she was part of a team offering rehabilitation programmes to men serving sentences for a wide range of offences, often working with prisoners who’d committed serious violent crimes. Previously, Alice had been a nurse, working in the NHS. She now puts her experiences to good use in fiction. The Serial Killer’s Wife, The Serial Killer’s Daughter and The Serial Killer’s Sister all draw heavily on her knowledge of psychology and the criminal mind.

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