March 12, 2013

Chasing Tale [3/13/13]: Why Do Movie Novelizations Exist?

Chasing Tale is a regular look at the books I recently added to my to-be-read pile. Some are advance review copies, some I bought from one store or another, and others are freebies from promotional offers that caught my eye.

I was browsing the Kindle Store a couple weeks ago and saw there is a novelization of Footloose. For half a second, I thought it was a joke. I mean, should I expect a line of Step Up novels soon? Since when did dance flicks become prime candidates for novelization? If you want to turn a book into a musical, that could work. It did for Wicked that's for sure. But turning Kevin Bacon's spastic dance routines into literature is a bit of a stretch.

Seeing it got me to wondering about novelizations in general. I don't know about you, but I find the concept kind of silly on a couple fronts. For one thing, who watches a movie trailer and thinks, "Wow, that movie looks great. I wonder if there's a novel version I can read instead"? Apparently some people do though, because publishers keep churning these things out. Secondly, there is apparently a novelization of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Think about that for a moment. There's a book based on a movie that was already based on a book!

I actually read a novelization once--in fifth grade. What was it? Adventures in Babysitting. Yeah, remember that Elizabeth Shue classic? Somebody wrote a novel version of that and a copy found its way onto the wheeled bookshelf in my backwoods elementary school. Wow, I thought. A cool-looking movie (ah, the cultural tastes of a 10-year-old) right there in book form. I'd never seen a book based on a movie before. Granted, a boy from the sticks, whose knowledge of books branched basically from Doctor Seuss to The Hardy Boys at the time, can be easily impressed by such things. Looking back, I only read it because I wanted to see the movie, but was too young and too poor to go to the movie theater to watch it. So, aside from stocking the shelves of rural elementary schools, what's the purpose of novelizing movies?

I still haven't figured that out yet. So, if you've got an answer for me, feel free to leave a comment. In the mean time, here are the latest books added to my to-be-read, with nary a novelization to be seen, I might add.

CaliforniabyRay Banks - There's a little town in Scotland called California--who knew?--but I doubt it has many palm trees. It might still be the perfect backdrop for this crime novella published by Blasted Heath.

Hot Wire by Gary Carson - I found another interesting crime novel from Blasted Heath about a teen girl turned car thief. The book's plot description sounded absolutely bonkers, and it only cost a dollar, so I figured I'd roll the dice on it.

The Cipher by Kathe Koja - This is Koja's debut novel, which won a Stoker Award at the time and it was released a few months ago as an e-book. I've only read her short fiction so far, so I thought this would be a good place to start with trying out a full-length novel.

Quarantined by Joe McKinney - I remember the SARS outbreak in Toronto years back and how everyone outside the city lost their minds about it spreading. Well, Joe has a flu pandemic in San Antonio in this novel that ought to capture some of the paranoia and dread of those crazy outbreak days.

Soultaker by Bryan Smith - More and more horror novels are being rescued from the quagmire that was Dorchester and finding new homes with other publishers. One of the latest is this one through Bryan's own Bitter Ale Press.

The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff - I mentioned this novel back in WLW#38, a parapsychology thriller, which sounds quite promising. Alexandra published it on the Kindle Store, which is something I would have assumed St. Martin's Press would've done back when it was first published. Ah well, I've got it now.

Lemons Never Lie by Richard Stark - Around my neck of the woods, Westlake/Stark novels are a rare find, so seeing this novel online for less than a buck was a welcome treat. I've only read Westlake's TheAx so far, to be honest, but it was such a magnificent piece of work, I'm sure I'm gonna enjoy the rest of his stories.

Shock Totem #6 edited by K. Allen Wood - The sixth issue of ST hit the Kindle Store a couple weeks ago, so I scooped it up. My favorite magazine for horror short stories, easily.

The Dame by Dave Zeltserman - This is the second novella in Zeltserman's Hunted series. I have the first one already, but when I saw this on sale for less than $2, I had to get it.

Review Copies:

Age of Certainty edited by William Friedman - An anthology snuck its way onto my Kindle, this one offering ten authors' takes on the question "what if God was real?"

What Makes You Die by Tom Piccirilli - Apex Books has published a new short novel by one of the best writers going today. And when you read the setup for this story and realize the protagonist is named Tommy Pic, you're gonna want to read this as soon as you can.

Goldenland Past Dark by Chandler KlangSmith - It's hard to decide which name I like more, that of the book or the author. Either way, an ARC of this new release from Chizine Publications found its way to my inbox.

The Pale Man by Nate Southard - This is the fifth installment in the Sam Truman series from Abattoir Press, which means I need to get around to reading the second, third, and fourth installments, toot sweet.

Infected and The Space Whiskey Death Chronicles by William Vitka - This novel and short story collection, respectively, arrived in my inbox at the end of February. It looks like Vitka has already earned himself some blurbs from notable authors, so I'll have to find room on my to-be-read pile for these books.

Whitstable by Stephen Volk -  A new novella is on its way from Spectral Press. The cover is gorgeous and it looks like it's a tribute of sorts to legendary actor, Peter Cushing. No sure who that is? Where have you been? This should be really intriguing.


  1. Adventures in Babysitting was/is an awesome movie.

    Dean Koontz's Funhouse was a novelization and very good. If I have the story right, it was selling well until the movie came out. The movie sucked so no one wanted to read the book anymore.

  2. I must admit, I read the novelizations for the first two X-MEN movies, simply because they were released before the film releases and I couldn't wait. Yeah, geek here. ;-)

  3. Jennifer - It was an awesome movie back in the day, but I haven't seen it since I was a kid, and I worry it hasn't aged well--like a lot of movies from childhood.

    Lisa - Who penned those X-Men books? Any good?

  4. Yay for Shock Totem #6!

    And HOLY FUCK! There's a novelization of Adventures in Babysitting? Seriously? I NEED that. It probably sucks, but I am totally not ashamed to admit that that is one of my all-time favorites movies.

    Hell, I quoted the damn thing in Shock Totem #1. Haha.

  5. I'm a bit torn regarding novelizations. The vast majority of them are pointless, but occasionally a good one slips through--and the good ones usually slip in a little back story or side scenes that aren't found in the film. For instance, the novelization of HALLOWEEN (which I only read for a Halloween franchise blogathon I was doing) featured connections between Michael Myers, Samhain, and ancient Celtic evils that were at best *hinted at* in the film.

    I'm much more likely to read novels that tell continuing adventures of existing characters, as opposed to novelizations of existing stories. They're not always all that good, either, but when you love a character or franchise, you're willing to sift through some junk to find a few gems.


    P.S. ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING is an epically classic film.