Posted on 2014-Apr-09
The World is a Never-Ending Novel, Isn’t It?
On the second visit to the Book Fair, prior to the beginning of the TV adaptation of romance novels discussion, I rushed to the Ballroom to attend the grand opening ceremony of the book fair. Before the ceremony started, I had ten to fifteen minutes to wander around what this year’s theme “The World is a Never-Ending Novel” really represented before the newly elected governor of Bangkok would officiate “What I Have Seen: The World of Sri Burapha’s Novels” exhibition.
The Transparent Literary Quotes
In front of the exhibition stood the installation of glass panels that inscribed quotes from Thai famous novels. According to the National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT) press release issued on Mar 28, the event will represent the “close relationship between the real world and the literary sphere.” My first impression was that all the transparent panels facilitated the onlookers to see through one quote to another and witness their own reflection to mirror your condition/transformation according to those written words.
Grand Opening Ceremony
Once the crowd occupied the limited chairs made of paper, I sat sternly and anticipated the arrivals of distinguished guests: Dr. Pusadee Tamtai, Acting Bangkok Governor, Literary Fiction Author Sri Daoruang (best known by her pen name “Sri Daoruang”), Charun Homtientong, President of The Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand (PUBAT), Prabda Yoon, Vice President of International Affairs of PUBAT.
The main purpose of the exhibition was not only to encourage readers to come inside the literary authors’ world so they can develop organized thinking skills, it also honored the life and works of Sri Burapha (his real name is Kulap Saipradit), the man who has become an integral part in several Thai political events and a respectable patron of the literary scene. After the official ceremony neared its end, I courteously sneaked out of the ballroom to join another seminar session about romance novels being adapted into TV series.
Talk Session with Four Romance Authors and CH3 TV Executive
Front seats had already been taken by romance authors and TV series fans. Instead of organizing the typical book launch that had authors talk about their sales pitch and take some photos, this talk session combined several promotional strategies to instill positive images about the story. After briefly introducing the event sponsor, Sathaporn Books (SPB), Khun Jor, the moderator who is a well-known entertainment news reporter from Channel 3, introduced the audience to the singer who writes the song and sings for the series. Neung Manowit sang two songs of TV series OST that stirred the crowd.
Introductory Vocal Performance
It may seem his soft and gentle voice had touched the hearts of many including the 4 romance authors who took the stage and could not help smiling.
Starting from the most successful romance author, Nara, whose 8 books have been adapted into TV drama and her books have sold to a critical reception, shared her in-depth experience collaborated with other authors while she lives abroad in Canada. Among her notable works which include Baan Rai Plai Fun, The Sixth Sense, Rising Sun, Supharbburuth Chutathep inarguably became her most widely known work that allowed her to work closely with Sonklin and Praenath who also shared the stage. Although the remaining Romkaew were unable to join the session, Umarikar, a famous author who has written series with the publisher also joined the conversation. Nara said that her idea of collaboration came from the Western model when authors of the same genre works together.
‘Slap and Kiss’ Style
Apart from working together in a series, each author has also been working on their own book. Sonklin, the only male author who has a degree in civil engineering, is working on his desert series, based on his editor’s recommendation, where his main character is a young prince with immature leadership aspires to be a gentleman. His writing style features ‘slap and kiss’ that proves popular among Thai audience which builds the heated feeling between the male and female characters to formulate the passionate kissing.
Authors Coaching Authors to Smooth Collaboration
Although Praenath is the youngest of the youngest of the team who may not have much exposure to the romance writing, her admiration of Nara boosted her self-esteem to work hard along with other colleagues. Instead of being very much flattered, Nara pointed out the significance of having different authors collaborate as she became the leader that each one has their own unique way of telling a story. In defense of Praenath’s lack of exposure, Nara highlighted her younger coworker’s strength to tell the story to soften the character’s tone based on her personality as a sweet girl. She also took the lead in assigning who would be responsible for designing interconnected scenes. Nara writes the first series passed the torch onto the other authors to work independently. In the meantime, they frequently hold teleconference calls to discuss the direction of the next book to correspond with the previous one.
TV Adaptation Challenges
In terms of TV drama production, Somsak Narongwichai, Vice President - Production Department, revealed the crew’s challenge behind the scenes where he organized a meeting between the writers, authors, and producers to brainstorm production ideas. If the previously mentioned authors’ collaboration may have sounded smooth as silk, he said that producers were so afraid that they might argue over their personal tastes to create convincing characters (e.g. hairstyles, facial makeup). It took more than a year for the TV series to be made including several months for the production team to cast actors and create the entire setting. From the TV producer’s perspective, he thinks that the producer must concretize ideas created by authors and present moral lessons to the audience so they can appreciate the value of being a gentleman. Unlike the novel that is written for fans of a certain age group, TV series will be watched by fans of all age groups and there are certain romantic scenes must be properly adapted to get aired. In case of any scenes from the book that are cut from live broadcast, the authors will be notified by the production team as Somsak insists how he respects the author’s work.
Following the viral success of the first series that created the heartthrobs sensation, Nara revealed the possibility of launching the second series next March about their sons in a more contemporary setting and scene.
Learning to Make a Difference
Last but not least, although Umarikar does not work with Nara and others in this TV series, she works with her Nara in other writing projects about celebrities’ love. She then shared how working with other authors allowed her to see different styles to develop her writing as she must study their works to continually write in the same direction. Writing alone has its own advantage when she is more independent but it does not necessarily provide an opportunity for her to see how other authors work. Apart from the collaborative work, her four series are already best-selling. Her secret tip is to strengthen the plots and differentiate her work from the mainstream. She also believes that success also depends on the author’s unique storytelling that comes from experience and the editor’s discretion.
In the interview that she introduced the book How to Love: Celebrities Love series, she finds charm hidden in luxurious life of which most people can only relate to in dreams. This series will bring that dreamy allurement to life as a how-to guidance for everyone to connect. Her obsession with the pink color and Barbie (link in Thai) helps her name the lead male character as Ken. No doubt her story will follow the legendary lovers as Barbie tries to pursue Ken’s love.
The Transcendence of Words
In the event that foresaw literary figures gathering and appreciating Sri Burapha’s works, the Book Fair sets an usual tone to bridge the gap between the real world and the imaginary world seen by professional storytellers. The grand opening ceremony not only serves as the opportunity to introduce readers to strengthening that connection, it also provides a ‘literary sphere’ for the younger generation to learn literary evolution and struggle for the works to be published freely and publicly. The talk session with romance authors and Channel 3 TV executive sets one of the examples how words transcend to moving pictures to captivate TV audiences through collaboration. Interestingly, romance novel has become a part of entertainment that blends perfectly with beautiful music, dreamy story plots, sex appeal, and moral lessons. Despite being in the spotlight, all the authors showed their commitment to working on a new story that may or may not be made for TV. That is how their obligation to initiate new interaction with their target readers who is the main supporter regardless of genres will be fulfilled.
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