05/09/2014 10:37 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Writing a Television Tie-In Novel

When I was first asked if I'd be interested in writing an original novel based on the Fox/AMC detective series The Killing, I wasn't familiar with the show. I purchased the pilot episode from Amazon, and right away, I was hooked. I immediately downloaded and watched the rest of the first season, and loved it. There are many elements that work in this show -- the pacing, the writing, the actors, the moody atmosphere -- but I think what grabbed me most was that the characters and the writing are so honest and real. I've since learned that many of my thriller author friends are fans -- no doubt because they appreciate great writing!

After I was selected to write the novel, I watched all of the available episodes several times, and took extensive notes. I also watched all of the cast interviews on The Killing website. Hearing the actors talk about their characters was extremely helpful for getting inside the characters' heads. I read as many of the fans' comments as I was able to, paying particular attention to what people liked about the characters. Always in my mind was the thought that I was writing the book for fans of the show. It was both a challenge and a privilege to be the first author to bring this most excellent television drama to the page.

I did not collaborate with the show's creator and executive producer, Veena Sud, beyond a phone call during which we discussed the book's creative direction, but I worked closely with the Fox production team. One of the primary concerns on the part of everyone involved was that the book reflect the show's mythology as accurately as possible. To that end, Fox sent me the scripts for seasons two and three as they were written, so I could keep up with the storyline (often in advance of the episodes' airing, which was fun). The scripts were a great help, especially when it came to recreating Holder's slangy speech patterns.

Fans of the show have asked many questions about the book. Will we see Sarah Linden as a wife in your story? Will Jack appear in the story? Will we see Stephen Holder fall into addiction as an undercover officer with the Sheriff's Department? Will we see him steal the gold coin from his nephew, Davie? Will we see Linden's mother in your book? Will Stephen Holder have a romantic interest in the novel?

I can't reveal specifics beyond the novel's description, and anyway, what would be the fun in reading the book if people knew the answers to these and similar questions ahead of time?


When firefighters respond to a suspected meth explosion at a trailer park, they discover a man's body, unburned but with terrible head wounds. Meanwhile, another man is discovered in a shipping container at the Port of Seattle, shot execution-style. For Homicide Detective Sarah Linden, two cases soon become one, and she must unravel a complex web of addiction, greed, and betrayal to reveal the killer.

I can say that The Killing: Uncommon Denominator is a prequel, and takes place ten months before Rosie Larson is found murdered in the show's pilot episode. One of the most challenging aspects of writing this novel was figuring out a storyline for the book that would involve the show's two main characters, Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder, in meaningful ways, but without allowing their paths to intersect, since they meet for the first time in the pilot episode. I'm happy to say I believe I found a story that addresses this in a satisfying way. I hope fans agree! Coming June 24.