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Book tie-ins give readers even more of the TV characters they love

Translating from TV to page, keeping character alive all the way

Photos by or courtesy of Vintage; Signet; Pocket Books; Titan Books; Heperion; BBC Books

April 3, 2014 | 12:00 a.m. CST

Veronica Mars fans obsessed with the scandal-plagued residents of Neptune, Calif., were left hanging when the series abruptly ended in 2007. On March 14, the Kickstarter-backed Veronica Mars movie premiere provided some much-needed closure and sated fans’ desire for the cult hit. Maybe even for multiple viewings. But what happens after the credits roll, and devotees once again are left without a team to root for (Logan or Piz) and mysteries to solve?

Fear not, Marshmallows (as Veronica Mars fans are called in honor of Veronica’s nickname for her softer side behind her tough-girl persona). Rob Thomas, the director/creator/producer/writer/hero of the people, has us covered. Thomas and Jennifer Graham co-wrote a tie-in book series starring the sassy sleuth audiences fell in love with 10 years ago.

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

Publisher: Vintage
Released: March 25
Price: $15.95

Released on March 25, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line revolves around a spring break disappearance that turns into a tangled web of organized crime and Veronica’s own past.

Tie-in novels allow fans to go beyond the on-screen world and bring the story to life through books. Lee Goldberg, author and vice president of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, knows there is a stigma. He says publishers view them as both the “cash machines” and the “bastard children” of the literature world.

“Tie-in writers just don’t get any respect,” Goldberg says. “Professional writing organizations and the industry at large almost consider it like soft-core porn. There’s nothing dirty about them.”

Although Goldberg admits there are some hack jobs, on the whole, tie-in novels are just as valid as any other work of fiction. They just happen to come with familiar characters and a built-in fan base.

Keith R.A. DeCandido, who writes, among others, Supernatural tie-in novels, points out that the Winchester brothers tend to go places on TV with a small-town vibe because of budget constraints. But that’s not a problem for DeCandido, who has sent the crime-solving duo to New York, San Francisco and even Key West in his novels.

For some, a book series might not seem too exciting. Can Veronica Mars work without Kristen Bell? Can you forgive Logan for everything when Jason Dohring isn’t making that pitiful, kicked puppy face?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is that a tie-in novel offers up new ways to experience the universe of Veronica Mars. With no production budget or episodic time limit, the authors can get into characters’ heads and take them on a whole new journey.

“I think there is kind of a bias against movie and book tie-ins,” says Ellen Wernecke, a Veronica Mars fan. “But I think, when done well, they’re really excellent.”

She received a tie-in novel from the TV show Castle as a gift and found herself pleasantly surprised by the mystery adventure.

As a fan of the show and Kickstarter campaign contributor, she looks forward to seeing what trouble Veronica gets herself into now.

Doug Wilson, co-owner of Village Books, says there will always be purists who look down on them. “But we see fandom existing in so many different ways,” he says Wilson. “It exists and continues to move forward as people want to keep something alive.”

Wernecke and the other Marshmallows can look forward to a whole new class of California crime with the “Veronica Mars” tie-in book series as the The Thousand Dollar Tan Line is only the first with at least one more book planned.



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