Sheri Anderson Tells a Secret in SalemBy Janet Di Lauro Posted: Nov 10, 2010
Former DAYS OF OUR LIVES head writer Sheri Anderson has penned a book titled A Secret in Salem, the first in the Salem's Secrets, Scandals and Lies fiction line featuring beloved characters from the show's past. Fans reading the novel will find out what happened to Marlena and John since they left town in search of a cure for John's paralysis, and meet some intriguing new characters they've encountered along their journey. The book will be released on Nov. 9 and will be available at major bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders, at Sam's Club, and via online markets such as amazon.com.
Soap Opera Weekly: How was this project born?
Sheri Anderson: I was contacted by DAYS's Greg Meng [executive in charge of production at Corday Productions], and told they were going to be doing a fiction series. At that point, it was very loosely defined. They just knew they wanted a fiction series that would basically complement the show. They asked if I would be interested in writing it. I thought, "What a great opportunity to be able to write for the show again, without all the restrictions that we all have as head writers." The truth is, I was given total freedom to write anything I wanted. They had some ideas, but I really took it to what I thought would be good chick lit.
Weekly: Did anyone suggest following John and Marlena?
Anderson: Not really. What they started talking about was, as an example, doing John Black's Phoenix rising story. I thought about what I felt would be good for the show and took it in a different direction. I really went to John and Marlena because they were such a integral part of all the storytelling I did when I was there. Also, because both characters were written off the show, there was a clean slate, in a sense, about the last two years...where they've been and what they've been doing.
Weekly: So where are John and Marlena when A Secret in Salem opens?
Anderson: I tried to be as true to the show as I could be. When John and Marlena left, they went off to Switzerland for treatment for John's paralysis. So I picked them up in Switzerland. When the book opens, Marlena is going into a plastic surgeon's office, not for herself, but to help her husband. John is getting physical therapy from a hot, young female therapist.
Weekly: How do Shawn and Belle enter the picture?
Anderson: They left to take the show on the Fancy Face IV to tour the world. We have them stopping in Monte Carlo on their way to meet up with John and Marlena. Their stories cross over to John and Marlena's, and new characters who are coming in: Charlotte "Charlie" Gaines and her brothers.
Weekly: These are all characters John and Marlena meet on their journey.
Anderson: Yes. It's almost that kind of incidental thing. John and Marlena are called in by Shawn and Belle to help Charlie, who's had a horrific accident and is dealing with a number of difficulties. Actually, Marlena is called in to help her. She goes to Monte Carlo, where she encounters lots of temptations, romantically, along the way, as does John.
Weekly: How did you create the Charlie character?
Anderson: I was really trying to think about what was going on in the media. It ties into the Bernie Madoff scandal, and a girl, who was raised in this exclusive, glamorous and monied life, but is really very down-to-earth. Through all this, she comes to find out she isn't who she thinks she is. It's really talking about the ramifications of something like a Bernie Madoff [scandal] — how it affects people not only financially, but also emotionally, and how it destroys families. It's a ripple effect.
Weekly: You mentioned there were "no restrictions," not having to deal with a network or sponsors. What sorts of things were you able to do in the book that you weren't able to do as head writer on the show?
Anderson: For one thing, there's the matter of location. The book takes place in Monte Carlo, and there are a lot of fabulous parties going on around everyone. There's a party on a 600-foot yacht with a lot of celebrities. You've got P. Diddy flying in and Rihanna. Princes Harry and William are there. All these people are at this massive party whom our Salem characters are circulating with. In the book, you're also able to really go into more explicit sex than you can do oncamera. You get into characters' emotional state of mind.
Weekly: How many more books are you committed to?
Anderson: Two more. I'm in the midst of writing the second one. It's supposed to come out sometime in the spring.