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Spot the Author

Reading + Entertainment

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Jessica, Preston | May 1, 2017

Authors get a lot of perks: these are people who get to work in their PJ’s, after all. The best perk of all — even better than the PJ thing — is signing a lucrative Hollywood deal and having a book adapted into a movie or TV series. If the author is lucky, they get to hobnob with the actors on set and attend a big Hollywood premiere without having to do any actual work on the project itself.

But sometimes the filmmakers put the author to work.

Authors often advise filmmakers about tricky aspects of the story or even adapt the screenplays themselves. And sometimes — to the delight of their readers — authors make cameo appearances on the big screen.

The author cameo is a long and storied tradition. Usually it’s a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it appearance in the background of a scene. Only true fans will notice, since these roles are usually too insignificant to warrant any mention in the closing credits. Did you spot Lee Child as a police desk sergeant in Jack Reacher? How about when Kathryn Stockett popped up in a crowd scene in The Help? Certainly you didn’t miss Stephenie Meyer as a wedding guest in Breaking Dawn: Part 1? If the camera lingers on someone in the background, you’re probably looking at the author.

Lee Child's Jack Reacher book cover by SyndeticsOutlander book cover by SyndeticsUnder the Dome book cover by Syndetics

Occasionally authors land speaking roles. Irvine Welsh played drug dealer Mikey Forrester in Trainspotting. Diana Gabaldon sported a decent Scottish accent in the fourth episode of Outlander as Iona MacTavish, the frenemy of housekeeper Mrs. Fitzgibbons. Stephen King has had 21 acting credits, including as a diner patron in Under the Dome and Teddy Weizak in the 1994 miniseries version of The Stand. If you think that’s impressive, Stan Lee is the king of the cameo, having appeared in almost every Marvel Comics adaptation. When authors can act, their talents delight readers and audiences alike.

Make sure you catch up on your reading before you head to the cinema, and then keep your eyes peeled. Maybe it will be the unassuming janitor pushing a broom in the background or the well-dressed businesswoman giving the main character directions. Your book-eschewing friends will have no idea, but you (bookworm that you are) will recognize the author hiding in plain sight.