Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Top Gear for Books

By Rebecca Cantrell

I know this week’s question was about who my protagonist aspires to be. But Hannah Vogel isn’t big on role models. She just does the best she can. But that is obviously WAY too short to be my first blog post in a month or more.

I’ve decided to use the space to talk about a TV show for books and writers. No, my show doesn’t aspire to be “Castle” or “Murder, She Wrote.” It aspires to be “Top Gear.”

Netflix has posted some new seasons and my house is full of guys (two extra, plus two regular), so we’ve been going on a “Top Gear” bender, so I decided that what the world needs is a TV show about books that is similar to “Top Gear.”

First, it would open with discussions of various books that are out, fiction and nonfiction. It could have a news segment about recent deals, films based on books, and new and upcoming releases.
Then it would have a segment where actors (or writers) re-enacted one of the key scenes in a recently released book. For example, someone could create a scene from a James Patterson novel where the characters walk two steps toward the kitchen and have suddenly been transported from New York to Chicago, with no transition at all. Alternately, a romantic love scene could be nicely botched on screen. Terrible Amazon reviews could be read by weeping writers, followed by elaborately enacted revenge fantasies.

“Writer in a Reasonably Priced Car” could be writers driving (sober, one hopes) famous cars from novels, like a James Bond car or the cool period cars from the Hannah Vogel series.
You could do traveling segments where writers took you on a tour of the landscape of their books. Visit Nic Costa’s Rome with David Hewson. Tour the Vatican with James Rollins. See Miranda Corbie’s San Francisco with Kelli Stanley.

My husband, action guy, suggests a segment where books are abused the way “Top Gear” abuses cars. Launch one on a rocket (a Harlan Ellison?). Read one under the ocean (a Clive Cussler, obiously). Drop one in a pit of lava (JRR Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”).

It closes with the Cool Wall where new releases are added by the bickering hosts. And we also need a place for fans, like someone who can recite Klingon poetry.

Clearly, it has to be funny. I think we need a range of hosts, from an action oriented American to a snooty British literature expert and maybe a wickedly funny romance writer. What do you think? Who do you think should star in it? What kinds of segments would it have? Somebody make this show. I want to be on it.


Joshua Corin said...

I am not in favor of abusing books, but if we could broadcast the abuse of author, that might make for some Must See TV.

I know I always get a kick out of watching Andrew Peterson go toe-to-toe with an ATF dog.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Definitely like the idea of Andy and the ATF dogs, although I've never actually watched that.One of these days...

And it has to be irreverently funny. You'd be a natural for it, actually.

Thanks for commenting, Josh!

Meredith Cole said...

I love Top Gear! What a great idea, Becky. I guess instead of abusing a book, we could do crazy stuff to a Kindle or a Nook (blend it?) and see if it can really survive extreme abuse.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

I like the idea of taking a nook to its limits, Meredith! Underwater. Near a volcano. On an F-16.

And, Josh, what if we READ those books in all those cool locations? Like, we read the scene where Frodo climbs Mount Doom on the slopes of Mount Doom (from the movie, but whatever). Read some underwater Dirk Pitt scene in a submersible over the Titanic.

I think I need a HUGE budget.

Lesa said...

Oh, I love it! Rebecca, you need to search for Jim Born on YouTube to see the perfect person to abuse books. Your husband would love it! I think Top Gear for Books sounds exciting! Jim would make a great host, too. If anyone is irreverently funny, it's him.

Michael Wiley said...

Sounds like a great idea, Rebecca. I haven't watched Top Gear, but you've opened up a lot of possibilities. I can also imagine a Survivor type show involving writers.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

I watched the potato gun video of his, Lesa. Hilarious! He would clearly get some air time with that (pun intended).

I'm thinking we could glam it up a bit with Hollywood writers sometimes too, like Ethan Hawke and James Franco.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Hey Michael!

Isn't every writer's life ALREADY like Survivor? :)

Might be fun to watch the travails of others though...

Busmeister said...

And for the Ranking Board, authors could read the first page of their books and the audience would vote "up" or "down". The more "up" votes they get the higher their name would be.

Anonymous said...

The show sounds interesting, but not the abusing books part! Writers reading in odd places might be a fun replacement. Or stress testing Kindles or Nooks.

I cannot wait to see those old cars from the Hannah Vogel era. I love your Hannah Vogel books!!!


Rebecca Cantrell said...

Busmeister: Just stumbled back and found your comment. I like it! Although it might take too long to count the thumbs. But maybe we could randomly pick a panel of "judges" from the audience.

BTW, I'm actually moderating a Top Gear for Books panel in Tucson in March, so we'll see what it looks like in action!

Rebecca Cantrell said...


Thanks for stopping by! I would love to see all the Hannah Vogel cars myself! I'd like to sit in them and maybe drive them around to the locations in the books.

That would be another cool segment.

Glad you like the Hannah books!