Media Crossovers and Fandom: Beyond the Book-to-Movie Pipeline

I’m a big series fan. I always have been, since way back in my Babysitter’s Club days. Books, tv, movies, comics; I’m not particular about format, I just love to get to know a group of characters and then follow them through their ups and downs. Whether that means high-stakes urban fantasy, or an emotionally-gripping mirror of the landscape we’re all navigating out here in the real world, I want to get invested. I want to laugh at jokes that are only funny to insiders, and cry at slights that hit deep because they’re drawing on the hundred interactions that led up to them. When I become attached to any imagined world, and all of that world’s quirks and characters, whether as a reader, listener, or viewer (or, for many people, though admittedly not me, gamer), I just want more; any medium will do, just let me stay immersed in that delightful world a little longer.


Fan-based contributions can help to fill the void while we’re waiting impatiently for a next installment, and certainly shared work from fans can create a wonderful sense of community, but I’ll be honest – I generally want more of the world’s creator’s vision. I want canon storytelling. Continue reading Media Crossovers and Fandom: Beyond the Book-to-Movie Pipeline

Marshmallows in the Library: Books for Veronica Mars and Friends*

*At least, they used to be friends.

vm movie posterFunded by an unprecedented Kickstarter campaign, the Veronica Mars movie, which opens in theaters today, continues the adventures of Veronica Mars, girl detective, and her circle of friends and enemies (who are sometimes one and the same.)  The television show (which lasted three seasons) was originally imagined as a novel– not surprising since series creator Rob Thomas is the author of, among other things, Rats Saw God (it’s not just a VM episode, it’s a classic!)  In addition to the movie, a two book series was announced last summer, beginning with The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham, which comes out at the end of March.

The Veronica Mars movie picks up ten years after the end of the original series.  Veronica, Logan, Wallace, Mac, and the rest of the gang are headed to Neptune High for their high school reunion, and since it’s a day that ends in “y” that means Logan’s in trouble, Veronica’s conflicted, and fans might finally get to find out what happened next.  In honor of this completely auspicious occasion I decided to share a fantasy with you.  (I’m not the only one who does this, right?)

Here’s the scene:  Amber light streams through sunburst windows of stained glass, softening the edges of the large desk, the book shelves, the arm chairs.  Everything glows with that too-bright light that signifies a flashback, dream, or hallucination (and I’m not telling which one this is) but the librarian sitting at the desk is somehow shadowed.  (You don’t know this, but that librarian is me, and I have a secret–it’s Neptune, after all.)

The scene changes.  Close up on the librarian, a look of…terror? concern? joy? on her face.  She folds a piece of paper into a small rectangle and slips it into the book she’s reading behind the reader’s advisory desk.  Someone approaches, momentarily blocking the light from the high windows.  The music asks a question (but you aren’t sure what it is) and then– a montage.  One Neptune High student after another approaches the desk, has a short conversation, then walks away, book in hand.  Inevitably these clandestine visits overlap and the day comes when the music swells, the surf crashes, and the whole lot of them collide on the broad front steps, a mass of excuses and averted eyes that eventually turns into confessions, acceptance, and a rousing book discussion.  Or possibly someone dies and/or gets arrested and/or tragically breaks off an epic romance.

vm castIt could happen.  Right now, in fact, as I write this before the Veronica Mars movie opens in theaters, anything could happen.

But back to my fantasy.

As the librarian at the Neptune library I’ve been recommending books to the teens of Neptune for years.  I’ll share a few with you, and give you a head’s up on what I’m passing on when the gang comes back to visit me during reunion weekend.

jellicoefrankieDespite maisie dobbsthe rather disparaging comments she made about her library job at Hearst College, Veronica Mars actually loved the library in Neptune.  She didn’t have a lot of time to read between school, working for her dad, and her job at Java the Hut, but she managed to squeeze in a couple of books here and there.  Melina Marchetta’s Printz Award winning title, Jellicoe Road, was the first book we bonded over.  I didn’t even know her mom was missing when I gave it to her, and I certainly didn’t realize how much she’d connect with Taylor and Jonah’s story.  I knew she’d like Printz Honor book The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart and she did.  Veronica and Frankie have a lot in common.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Veronica again and I can’t wait to hand her Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs

The Mystery of Veronica Mars: Best Teen Sleuth Of Our Time–Or All Time?

Auntie P flickr magnifying glass
image from Aunti P’s flickr

The teen sleuth has a long history in children’s and young adult literature.  During the twentieth century,  popular children’s fiction became an increasingly profitable market.  Large companies like the Stratemeyer Syndicate and its publishing partner Grosset and Dunlap produced masses of series fiction, finding especially great success with adventure and mystery series for children and teens.  Though these titles were first published in the 1930s and ’40s, many of the characters remain well-known cultural figures.  For example, Nancy Drew continues to appear in novels, video games, and even a feature film as recently as 2007.  Kid and teen detectives from Encyclopedia Brown and the Red Blazer Girls to the Hardy Boys and Gallagher Girls continue to fly off the shelves in libraries and bookstores.

In middle school, I devoured every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on before moving on to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie and Martha Grimes. But I’ve always been looking for a new smart & savvy teen sleuth–and when Veronica Mars premiered during my final years of high school, I knew I’d found my girl.  The character and the show appealed to me then as a young adult and a mystery reader–and it continues to appeal to me now, as a fan of the genre and young adult literature as a whole. Veronica Mars is simply a terrific example of storytelling for and about young adults–in addition to being a great mystery series.

The series can trace a connection to young adult literature back to its initial creation.  Before he brought the teen sleuth back into popular culture, Rob Thomas wrote and published a young adult novel,  Rats Saw God, a 1997 Best Books for Young Adults selection, recently re-released in a new edition.   In an interview with The Austin ChronicleThomas explains that his creation of Rats Saw God–and later Veronica Mars–drew on his experiences during his first post-college job as a high school journalism teacher.   So what qualities did Thomas’ writing include that made the show work so well in the world of young adult media?  Continue reading The Mystery of Veronica Mars: Best Teen Sleuth Of Our Time–Or All Time?