The only thing better than falling in love with a romance novel is getting to fall in love with its film adaptation, too.
Now, it seems like lightning’s striking once again. Hallmark Channel has adapted another one of Teri’s novels, “The Art of Us,” about a Boston art professor who convinces an unknown painter to help out with a big art gallery she’s set to curate. The movie airs this Saturday, May 20th, and stars fan-favorites Taylor Cole (My Summer Prince) and Steve Lund (Christmas Incorporated).
If The Art of Us is even half as good as Unleashing Mr. Darcy, then we’re all in for quite the treat. Here’s hoping Teri’s refreshing Rome romance, “Royally Roma,” is up next!
Keep reading to find out Teri’s opinions on having novels adapted by Hallmark, thoughts on an Unleashing Mr. Darcy sequel, what it was like meeting Taylor Cole and Steve Lund, and so much more!
Millennial Hallmarker: “The Art of Us” is your second book to be adapted by Hallmark, what does it feel like to be able to write these books and have them adapted? What’s the process like of having Hallmark option your books?
Teri Wilson: Having my books made into films has been a complete surprise, in all the best ways. It’s something every writer dreams about, but when it actually happens, it’s a total shock. At least it was for me. My literary agent arranged for Hallmark to see my work, and I didn’t even know it was going on. So when she called to tell me “Unleashing Mr. Darcy” had been optioned, it was obviously an enormous surprise. I’m a huge movie buff, so it’s been a dream come true. I’ve loved everything about the experience.
MH: Why did you want to work in the romance novel industry and how did you get started in it?
TW: I have always been an avid book lover. I’m an only child and read all the time when I was a kid. I kind of stumbled into romance when I won third place in a short fiction contest sponsored by the American Kennel Club. The story I’d written was about a dog, but when the editor called to tell me about my prize, she said, “Do you realize you’re not actually writing animal stories? You’re writing romance.” All the characters were falling in love—the people, the dogs—everyone. I hadn’t even realized it. I started writing my first romance novel the next day. I absolutely love it. The message of romance novels is the redemptive power of love. I can’t think of a better thing to write about.
MH: You write the novels, but not their screenplays. Would you want to write screenplays in the future?
TW: I don’t know. They are two totally different things. I wrote a story treatment last year and it really helped me see how different writing a screenplay would be from writing a novel. I’d like to write one, just to give it a go. But I’m not at all confident it would be good.
MH: Which novel of yours would you love to have adapted next? Who would be the dream lead actor/actress?
TW: I have a book coming out in July called “Royally Romanov,” and it’s a modern spin on the Anastasia story. I would so love for this book to get adapted. My dream actress for the lead would be Reese Witherspoon. I love her. My dream actor is always Ryan Gosling.
MH: The Art of Us has two fan-favorites – Taylor Cole and Steve Lund. Have you seen their work before? What’s your favorite movie of theirs, besides this one, of course?
TW: I’ve seen Taylor’s Hallmark movies—”Summer Prince,” “Appetite for Love” and “Christmas in Homestead.” I love all three! “Christmas in Homestead” is probably my favorite. I hate to say this, but I haven’t seen any of Steve’s other work. One of my good friends is a huge fan of a werewolf series he was on called “Bitten.” I have it downloaded and ready for bingeing, but I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet.
MH: How involved with auditions and filming were you, on both Unleashing and The Art of Us?
TW: I was not involved with casting at all. Authors never are…unless maybe it’s a super famous author like JK Rowling or something and the author is also acting as a producer. Honestly, my role is pretty much writing the book and that’s all. I do, however, like to visit the set. Not only is it extremely fun and rewarding, but it helps me promote the movie when I’ve been on set and know what the movie is like. I like to promote the movies because I’m excited about them and want people to watch.
MH: Did you get to meet the two leads? What were they each like, if so?
TW: Yes, I met both Taylor Cole and Steve Lund on set and they’re both great. Just really down to earth and personable. I’m still in touch with Taylor. She’s amazing. Everyone adores her. I rode to the airport with Steve the day after the movie wrapped and we watched some cute baby videos on his phone.
MH: What’s the biggest difference between the Unleashing Mr. Darcy book and the movie? How about The Art of Us?
TW: For “Unleashing Mr. Darcy,” the biggest difference is that the majority of the book takes place in London and Mr. Darcy is British. The film takes place in America and everyone is American. None of the changes in “The Art of Us” are quite as big, but in the book, Tom has a dog—it’s the military dog he had when he served in the Middle East. His dog isn’t in the movie, but we still have Harper’s adorable dog, Vincent. There are always changes made for a variety of reasons, but I’ve been very happy with what Hallmark has done with the books. Both movies are very much in keeping with the spirit of the books.
MH: In another interview, you mentioned something about a possible Unleashing Mr. Darcy sequel. Would it be both a novel and a movie? Would it have the same characters? EVERYONE is dying to know a few more details, so anything you can share.
TW: People ask me about it pretty much every day, which I love because it means the movie is truly a fan favorite. I wish I could say more. I can go so far as to say there have been lots of rumors swirling about a sequel and that is obviously something all of us involved would be excited about, but that’s it.
MH: What are you working on now? New books, movies, etc.?
TW: Right now I’m finishing up a book called “Royally Wed.” It’s the third book in series, The Royals. It’s about an American cellist who travels to England to perform at the royal wedding, but things get complicated when he accidentally falls in love with the princess bride.
I also have a Christmas movie in development with Hallmark based on my book, “Sleigh Bell Sweethearts.” It’s about a woman who unexpectedly inherits a reindeer farm in Alaska.
I’m afraid I can’t say anything about the other project [at Hallmark] at this time.
MH: What’s your all-time favorite Hallmark movie (besides your own)?
TW: My favorites are the royal Christmas ones, like “A Princess for Christmas” and “A Royal Christmas.” If any of my royal books ever gets made into a movie for Hallmark, I would probably keel over from excitement.
MH: Which novel did you have the hardest time writing and why? What’s your favorite quote that you’ve written?
TW: I usually say the hardest one is whatever book I’m trying to finish at the moment. Ha. Looking back though, my book “Alaskan Homecoming” was the most difficult. About a week or so before I finished it, I found out that my biggest book series was being cancelled by my publisher. It was devastating news, and I found it very difficult to put that aside and concentrate on writing. I finished the book though, and I’m still here. Still writing. Things are better than ever. I share that story with writers because they need to know that everyone gets rejected and everyone faces major setbacks. But it’s never the end of the world. There are so many opportunities out there for writers who love telling stories.
My favorite quote? A cute little quip I wrote recently that I like is this one from “His Ballerina Bride”:
“Was he insane? And did he have to stand there, looking so unbelievably hot in that tuxedo while he stroked the kitten like he was Mr. December in a billionaires-with-baby-animals wall calendar?”
MH: What’s your favorite romantic comedy (non-Hallmark)? Why do you think there are so few rom-coms nowadays?
TW: I love romantic comedies so much. I think we see so few of them because they typically don’t bring in as much money as big action flicks or superhero movies, which is a shame. Some of my very favorites are “Sweet Home Alabama,” “You’ve Got Mail,” “Notting Hill” and “When Harry Met Sally.”
MH: What’s your advice for someone that wants to get in the novel-writing business or wants to have one of her novels adapted into a movie?
TW: I wish I could give advice about how to have a novel adapted for film, but honestly, I don’t know. My agent was responsible for getting my books in front of the Hallmark Channel. I have a great literary agent who I just adore. We’re good friends. As far as writing novels, I’d say read a lot of books in the genre that you want to write and join a local writers group. The friends I’ve made through my writing group (San Antonio Romance Authors) are the best. I’ve learned so much from them.
MH: Have you heard of the new female-created streaming service, PassionFlix, which is launching this year? The service is all about adapting romance novels. Would you be interested in partnering with them?
TW: I’ve definitely heard of PassionFlix and I’ve joined their service as a founding member. I love what they’re doing, and I love that it’s a female-created company. Romance novels are a huge untapped resource for films, and I support anything that gets more of these great books made into movies. I’d definitely consider partnering with them under the right circumstances.
MH: Who’s your favorite romance author?
TW: I’m a big fan of Emily Giffin. She writes women’s fiction now, but her first two books—”Something Borrowed” and “Something Blue”—are romances. “Something Borrowed” was made into a movie a few years ago starring Kate Hudson and Colin Egglesfield. I’ve read that book and seen the movie multiple times. Another favorite of mine is Kristan Higgins. She’s great at writing romantic comedy.
MH: At Millennial Hallmarker, we believe that TV movies aren’t a guilty pleasure, simply a pleasure. Do you believe that? What do you have to say to people who don’t understand why you would want to write a TV movie or watch one?
TW: I absolutely agree. Why should anyone feel guilty about that? No one has ever told me they don’t understand why I’d want to write or watch a TV movie…at least not to my face. haha. But like most romance authors, I’ve had many people make condescending comments to me about my books. Sometimes they don’t even realize they’re doing it. I always just say that I’m a big believer in people doing things they are passionate about, things that make them happy. Books and moves bring a lot of joy to the world, and I love being part of that.
MH: Is there anything else you’d like to add or tell fans about this movie, the cast, Hallmark Channel, or yourself?
TW: Just that I’m so grateful for all the support the books and movies have gotten. It never fails to surprise and delight me. I hope everyone watches The Art of Us on May 20!!!
If all of that wasn’t enough to entice you to watch The Art of Us on Hallmark Channel at 9/8c on May 20, check out the movie’s wonderful trailer: