By Julie, finding it hard to believe it is already June
Friends, we are so excited to celebrate some wonderful news from our friend Dana Cameron on the blog today. Dana’s book, Site Unseen, is going to be a Hallmark movie! It premieres on Sunday June 4 on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. A few of us will be tweeting during the show–follow the hashtag #Sleuthers and #EmmaFielding
A personal note about Dana. I met her at Malice Domestic many years ago. She was then the vice-president of Sisters in Crime New England, and encouraged my friend and I to join. I may have found my way to this organization that changed my life, but her kindness made me feel welcome.
Site Unseen is the first in her Emma Fielding mystery series. I love this series, and can’t wait to see how they adapted it for television. Most importantly, we Wickeds are wicked happy for our friend. I emailed Dana a few questions about her road to Hallmark.
Tell us about the books, and how you came to write them?
DANA: I’d always loved reading, but never thought I’d be a writer, because I thought you had to have “adventures” to write. I was happier with the opposite of “adventures,” which to me was spending time in the library. So I decided by the time I was ten to be an archaeologist, and it was a job I’ve always loved.
Fast forward many years later, and a looter with a metal detector showed up on an archaeological site where I was working with a colleague. When we protested, he pulled a pistol on us. Eventually he left, but at the time, it was really scary. We reported the incident and that was that. Or so I thought.
Months later, I told a friend about this, along with some other “interesting” things that had happened to me and my colleagues in the course of doing fieldwork, and she said that I needed to write it down. Suddenly, that instinct I had as a kid came back. I tried writing a mystery, because I’d always loved them, and after a lot of drafts, and a lot of good, tough criticism, I had a book. That sounds quick but it was a process that about took eight years until the first book came out.
When did you hear that Hallmark was interested in making a movie? What was that like?
DANA: I heard there was interest in optioning the books in late summer of 2016, and we finalized and announced the deal in November. After that, I celebrated and then went back to work, because it’s usually such a long shot that an option will be exercised. And then in February of this year, I got a call from Muse Entertainment that they were developing Site Unseen, most likely for Hallmark Movies and Mysteries; in March, the movie was greenlit, with Courtney Thorne-Smith attached. And in April, I was visiting the sets in Victoria, B.C.!
It all happened so quickly that it didn’t become real until I saw the Maine state flag flying over a Canadian town hall that was standing in for the sheriff’s office and the words “Site Unseen” on the marker! Since then, my feet haven’t left the ground, and I’m given to spontaneous bursts of dancing.
Wow, that is fast! We’d be dancing too! Was that a dream of yours?
DANA: It had been, of course—I think it’s a dream of every writer to see their work performed—but since it’s been about ten years since the most recent book in the series came out, Ashes and Bones, I thought the time was past for Emma to reach an audience in another medium. I spent the time since then writing my urban fantasy series, lots of short fiction, and finishing the historical noir novel based on my Anna Hoyt short stories. So this interest was a real surprise!
When the series started, my goal was to show what real fieldwork was like. With a few notable exceptions (including Elizabeth Peters and Aaron Elkins), a lot of books treat archaeology as merely an excuse for an exotic setting or a source of obsessive characters. I loved teaching, and it had always been a goal of mine to bring some of that to my books, using situations very loosely based on my own experiences. To be able to bring Emma to a wider audience, and know how hard the screen writer, cast, and crew have worked to keep her passion for science and archaeology—and justice—central to the project is absolutely a dream come true!
We couldn’t be happier for you, and can’t wait to tune in on Sunday night at 9/8C!
DANA: Julie, thanks to you and the Wickeds for the chance to chat with you!
The world premiere of “Site Unseen: An Emma Fielding Mystery” is June 4, 9/8C on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
Stars: Courtney Thorne-Smith and James Tupper.
Brilliant, dedicated, and driven, archaeologist Emma Fielding is trying to unearth evidence of a 17th century coastal Maine settlement that predates Jamestown, one of the most significant archaeological finds in years. But the dead body that accompanies it has embroiled Emma and her students in a different kind of exploration.
Here are some clips from the show: