As writers and publishers innovate ways to buzz up interest in their work, book trailers have increasingly amplified the webwaves. Yet, with Harry Potter trailers, kitty antics and Lady Gaga videos dominating social media shareware, what unique spin can book trailers bring to the screen? And how can book trailers reveal enough plotline without eliciting spoiler alerts or compromising readers' own imaginative imprint of fictional worlds?
These questions were already traveling the vernacular when I met young adult novelist Catherine Greenman at a GirlsWriteNow benefit this spring. Post handshake, Catherine mentioned she was exploring book trailer ideas for her debut novel, Hooked (Random House/Delacorte), to be released in August 2011. This New York City-centric novel features whip-smart 17-year-old Thea Galehouse, whose romance with slightly older, Columbia University-bound Will Weston becomes, well, complicated. Yup--you guessed it—pregnancy complicated. Over the course of the novel Thea becomes a crocheted bikini whiz, a creative obsession that helps transcend her challenges.
From our first conversation about Hooked, I visualized a girl's hands obsessively crocheting in fast motion close-up. It became a central motif. Over the course of the next few weeks, a video concept emerged from a series of café and email conversations, morphing from that first image to a time lapse Yarnbombing episode in Washington Square Park. In the final version, shots of “string graffiti” interweave with subway cars and sidewalk chalk as a teen relationship plays out in brick wall shadows at the corner of Mulberry and Prince Streets.
Fun factoids: in the trailer, Thea is actually played by four different people: a crocheting whiz from Barnard (hands); a recent BFA graduate from NYU (shadows); a talented singer (voice-over); and a random student at Stuyvesant High School (opening shot)…As luck would have it, an Emmy-award winning composer friend (Art Labriola) offered to design the soundtrack, furthering the collaborative layering.
Here is Catherine Greenman’s take on the process:
“For me the biggest 'gamble' in the process was whether or not Kathleen 'got' the book, and maybe just as importantly, whether she had great ideas about how to sell it via a video. And she definitely did on both fronts. I loved how making the video was a collaboration, because the process of writing a book, at least initially, is not! It was a relief to have some vague ideas of what I wanted to happen and then have someone else build on them so beautifully and carry it through. And it was also amazing to see the book come to life in a new way. Movie rights, anyone?”
Are you hooked yet?