by Lorie Lewis Ham
Mystery author Dana Cameron is the latest cozy mystery author to have one of her books, Site Unseen, turned into a movie on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel. We took a moment to chat with her about the experience.
Dana: During the late summer of 2016, my agent Josh Getzler asked if anyone had optioned the books, as he’d had an inquiry from Muse Entertainment. By the fall, we had an option agreement in place, and while I was very excited, I did what everyone tells you to do: I got on with life because the process of making a film is a long one, and frequently, it never comes to pass. In late winter 2016-early 2017, however, the option had been exercised and shortly thereafter, we got the news that the project had been green lit. The fact that it was being shot during April, and will be aired in June 2017, is stunning—it’s all happening very quickly, which is highly unusual!
KRL: When were you first approached about your books being made into movies on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel, and how did that all come about?
KRL: How close are they going to be to the books?
Dana: As far as I know from having seen some of Site Unseen being shot, while the plot is largely the same, there will be some significant differences. The most important thing that is preserved in the script is Emma still has the same brains and passion for her work that I wrote into the novels. Plus, the story’s been updated, so goodbye 1999, hello 2017!
KRL: Is the entire series optioned?
KRL: Is the book series continuing?
Dana: At the moment, there are no plans to write any more of the series. I’ve learned that in the writing business, you never say never, though…
KRL: How do you feel about the casting?
Dana: I’m absolutely delighted! Courtney Thorne-Smith brings a lot of warmth and intelligence to the role of Emma, and she’s a genuinely lovely person.
KRL: Did you get to go behind the scenes of the filming of the first movie? If so, what was that like?
Dana: I did! My husband James and I went to the set in Victoria, B.C. and got to watch a couple of scenes being filmed. It was fascinating to see how much work and planning needs to go into each shot and to learn what has to be considered in taking a book to the screen.
KRL: How does it feel to have your stories coming to life on the screen?
Dana: It was a little surreal, until I pulled up to the first set—Sheriff Stannard’s office—and that’s when it hit me that the movie really was happening. When I visited the archaeological site set, on the water, it looked just like a dig—it was so close to what I’d envisioned in the books! While it was initially strange to hear someone say something I’d said to my students—words that I’d actually given to Emma—it was also wonderful and satisfying, because I still believe all those things about science and research and the allure of the past.
KRL: What is the movie title? When does the first one air?
Dana: The first movie is Site Unseen: An Emma Fielding Mystery, and it’s based on the first novel Site Unseen in my series. It will probably premiere in early June 2017 on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel.
KRL: For anyone not familiar with your books can you share with us the basic premise and main characters?
Dana: Sure can! Emma Fielding is an archaeologist and professor who works in New England (and sometimes, elsewhere). Some nasty situations cause her to use her archaeological training, which is remarkably similar to the techniques detectives use, to solve mysteries. The sites and situations were inspired by my own career in archaeology (though I never got into half the trouble Emma does).
KRL: Anything else you would like to add?
Dana: Thank you for having me, Lorie and Kings River Life!
KRL: Thank you for joining us! Can’t wait for the movie.
Editor’s Note: Site Unseen will be premiering on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel on June 4.
You can check out KRL’s reviews of some of the other cozy mystery movies on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel in our mystery section, and watch for a review of Site Unseen once it premiers. You can also check out the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel website to learn more and check out their schedule for Site Unseen and other upcoming movies.