If romance novelist Nora Roberts were not a writer, she says she would probably have to work in retail for minimum wage since, she asserts, “I have no other talent.” Fortunately for Roberts’ many fans, she sticks with what she does best and, with over 100 novels published, is one of America’s most prolific writers.
Now her fans can see four of her books come to life onscreen. These Lifetime original movies include Angels Fall, premiering Jan. 29 on Lifetime, and Blue Smoke, Carolina Moon and Montana Sky, airing on the network in February.
Roberts was happy to discuss the films, her works, and the mindset and schedule that allow her to publish as frequently as she does.
Many authors say that some of their novels seem to be more cinematic than others. Were these the books you expected the producers would choose to make into films?
Nora Roberts: They asked me for different suggestions and I gave them a list of books and they chose out of that. They picked four really strong stories for the project. All four books feature strong female leads, as most of my books do. That’s what I look for when I’m writing — strong characters that find their strengths through the course of the story.
Did you fear that the films would ruin your books? And did the films stay true to the stories?
They can’t ruin my book. There’s my book right there on the shelf. This is “the movie based on.” I felt, as I read through the drafts and saw the first movie completed, that it was Carolina Moon. … The adaptations really transferred the story wonderfully well.
What did you think of the cast selection? Would you have picked Heather Locklear to play the role of Reece in “Angels Fall”?
I don’t base my characters on anyone but the character, or I’d be seeing Brad Pitt or George Clooney. I’d like to, but … [her voice trails off and she laughs]. But I will say that as they started casting and relayed [the choices] to me, I was thrilled each and every time. I just could not believe my luck. Claire Forlani in Carolina Moon is really perfect as Tory Bodine. She just owned the character. So not only do I have no complaints but I am incredibly grateful. People like Heather Locklear and Scott Bakula, Diane Ladd, Charlotte Ross and John Corbett and Jacqueline Bisset — it’s just wonderful to see all this talent interested enough to sign on and bring my characters to life.
They chose four books that were published over a 10-year period. Is there any connection between them?
That’s hard to say. I really do think a lot of times, for me anyway, writing is kind of like childbirth. The labor — you sort of forget how hard it was, or you wouldn’t do it again.
Were the four movies filmed across the country?
They filmed them all in Calgary. When I did the set visit for Montana Sky, I was just blown away when we got to the ranch that they were using. It was a gorgeous property and there were the Canadian Rockies and I thought “Montana.” Then when I watched Carolina Moon, I was thinking, “How are they going to pull this off?” And it looks like North Carolina. I don’t know how they managed, but … there were fields and swamps.
What was it like visiting the set for “Montana Sky” and walking through the buildings you created?
Thrilling, tremendous fun. And it was so interesting to see the city behind the cameras, the trailers. Where you eat. Where you get your makeup. It was cold and they were doing a lot of summer scenes, and I’m watching the actors out there in shirtsleeves and I’m in my big thick jacket and I thought, “I have a much better job.”
You are an incredibly prolific author. How do you manage it?
I really love what I do — that’s the first order of business. And I am very disciplined. I write every day and I have a fast pace. If you are just gifted with a fast pace and you write every day and love what you do, you write a lot.
I realize you may not have time to watch television, but if you do, what shows do you watch?
I am so glad The Closer is coming back — I love that show. And Medium, with its interesting situations. Right now we are so hooked on Dexter. It’s riveting. You can’t take your eyes off it. I am still mourning the death of Deadwood. … And I’m still mourning Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s loss. [Joss] Whedon’s a genius. Nobody does a story arc like Whedon does. I think Buffy was a landmark.