Released last September, Heat Wave is climbing the bestseller lists faster than a monkey who’s found a pair of traction shoes. Fans are crazy about the main character Nikki Heat–based on Detective Beckett of NYPD whom (alleged) author Richard Castle met while helping the men and women in blue solve a murder.
It’s amazing that Castle finds the time to write at all. When he’s not solving murders or attending book launching parties, he plays poker with fellow authors James Patterson, Stephen J. Cannell and Michael Connelly. On the cover of Heat Wave, Patterson says: “Castle hasn’t lost it. Heat Wave looks like another bestseller for the thrillmaster. It’s hot!”
Wow, another bestseller—Castle already has 26 according to his bio. Here’s what else it says: “Richard Castle is the author of numerous bestsellers, including the critically acclaimed Derrick Storm series. His first novel, In a Hail of Bullets, published while he was still in college, received the Nom DePlume Society’s prestigious Tom Straw Award for Mystery Literature. Castle currently lives in Manhattan with his daughter and mother, both of whom infuse his life with humor and inspiration.”
This is a fantastic career, except none of it is real.
Okay, so Heat Wave actually exists but the bio on the back of the book is of the character Richard Castle, played by Nathan Fillion (whom I loved as Captain Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds in Firefly and try to like in Castle, but find the show too predictable to watch). Kate Becket is played by Stana Katic and there are other actors filling in the roles of Castle’s mother, daughter, ex-wives, and various other characters of the show.
Only the writing buddies are real—well, the authors show up on the screen playing poker with Nathan Fillion—sorry—with Richard Castle and Castle has even done a book signing—sorry—Nathan Fillion signed books while in character as Richard Castle.
So who wrote the book? Richard Castle? Nathan Fillion? Probably neither of those, but ABC won’t say.
Intellectually I know that this is just another fantastic marketing campaign by a broadcasting company finding creative ways of promoting a TV show. Emotionally though, I find this so disturbing. I’m not sure why that is. I don’t think I would have the same reaction if a fictional music group from a TV show or movie put out an album (wait that’s already happened several times), but for some reason—maybe because it’s a book and those are supposed to be sacred—this bugs the hell out of me.
A popular rumor which has been partially confirmed by the show’s creator is that the name “Rick Castle” was chosen because when you say it, it sounds like “Rick Asshole” and that just about sums up how I feel about this fictional author, the book, the show, and the marketing department of ABC.
Am I overreacting? Is this just the beginning of a new thing? Are we going to have to keep track of which authors are real and which are played by real actors? Does that bother you?