The Story Behind the Book
Somebody sent me an email recently asking some questions about what led me to write the book. As most of you know, it doesn’t take much prompting for me to dash off a lengthy response to a question about the series or the book. Afterward, I thought it might be helpful to post that response here.
In April 2008, I started conducting interviews for a book about the ’70s/’80s sitcom Soap — a special request from the publisher. (That book should be published around November 2011.) Though I had a vague recollection of Soap‘s existence when I was growing up (I was born in 1972), I didn’t really know much about it. However, after talking to several people involved with the show, I realized that it held an important place in American TV history. With several of the lead actors now dead, I also realized how sad it was that nobody had bothered to write a book about it until 30 years later. While a majority of the cast and crew are still with us, three decades has dulled even the finest memories.
It was around that time that I started thinking about Gilmore Girls, one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I’d been a big Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan back in the day, so I would usually tune in to any new WB series, just to see if it had anything interesting to offer. It was for that reason that I caught the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls when the series premiered back in 2000; right away I was hooked. There was an honesty in the writing, and a playful zaniness in the characters, that really spoke to me.
Like many TV fans, I waited patiently for somebody to write a book about the series throughout its seven year run. After all, Buffy had spawned racks of books that ranged from three official “making of”/episode guides to countless examinations of Buffy‘s philosophy and religious implications.
When Gilmore Girls ended in 2007, and still there was no book, I figured there never would be one. By the time I was working on the Soap book, it occurred to me that Gilmore Girls, too, might go 30 years before somebody did the research for a book, with a similar degradation of all those memories, and the inevitable passing of cast and crew.
I pitched the idea of a Gilmore Girls “making of” book to the publisher, who gave me free rein to pursue it — thank you BearManor Media. What form it would take would be up to me.
What I really wanted to do was a “behind the scenes” book that would explain how the series came about, and what the day-to-day process was like to put an episode together. After a few months of trying to line up interviews, I realized that it was going to be a lot more difficult than I had expected. The biggest challenge was bypassing the cast’s “gatekeepers” — agents/managers/publicists — who were all for setting up interviews with somebody who could get their clients into newspapers and magazines, but who saw no benefit to having them included in a book.
Fortunately for me, there were many, many people who worked on the series who were extremely gracious with their time and memories. Initially the book was supposed to be completed by June 2009, but the process of finding the right people to interview made meeting that deadline impossible. Since I couldn’t just contact their managers, I had to get in touch with each person in some circuitous way — usually being referred to them by another cast member or crew person — before I could arrange an interview. In the end, I spoke with more than 40 members of the cast and crew. (You can find the complete list here.)
I should say at this point that I reached out to absolutely everybody of note involved with the series, including Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Dan, Lauren and Alexis, Scott Patterson and a number of the directors. The Palladinos and the two leads were each approached through several different sources, but all made it clear that that part of their lives was over. With Scott Patterson, my only avenue to him was through his manager, who declined on his behalf. Fortunately for me, the people who I did manage to speak with had a number of stories about all of those who didn’t, giving them a big presence in the book. I can safely say that there is information in The Gilmore Girls Companion that has appeared nowhere else before, including stories behind a number of key scenes in the show.
When it came time to ask somebody to write the foreword, I knew it had to be Edward Herrmann. In our talks and e-mails, he had offered a number of insights into the series, and wasn’t afraid to discuss some of the less positive aspects of the show when he felt it was warranted. Finally, I thought he would be the one person that I personally would want to show me around the world of Gilmore Girls. He graciously agreed to write it, and I think it’s a richer book for it. I’ve heard from more than one Gilmore fan that this is one book foreword that they actually looked forward to reading. I remember my own excitement when the day he emailed it to us — how appropriate that it was titled “A Gift.”
I hope that answers some questions out there. Thank you for your interest 🙂