Book of local author adapted for Hallmark movie

When Muncy-based author Michelle McLean first penned her rom-com novel “Truly, Madly, Sweetly,” which was published in 2016, she never imagined that one day she would get the chance to watch the words she wrote play out on a television screen. But McLean will get to do just that this Saturday evening at 9 p.m., when the screen adaptation of her novel debuts on the Hallmark Channel.

The movie is the first in the Hallmark Channel’s “Fall Harvest Original Movie” series, which will see six new movies premier through September and October.

“It is just a little crazy,” McLean said. “It has been very exciting and pretty surreal. They have been showing the commercials on TV and to see what I wrote on a screen is very exciting.”

McLean said it was completely “out of the blue” when she was first contacted by a representative of Crown Media — the production company Hallmark Channel — about optioning the movie for TV last January. In fact, she was so caught off-guard that she thought the email was spam.

“That just isn’t something that would happen to me,” she said. “I Googled him to make sure it was all real. I also emailed my publicist and they told me it was real.

“After that, my publisher wrote up a contract with Crown Media and it took off from there,” she added.

The book, which was written under McLean’s penname Kira Archer, is one of 18 she has published since 2007. She said she is a lifelong writer, and first started writing stories for her mom when she was only 5-years-old.

Though she hasn’t had any direct involvement with the TV adaptation, McLean has been kept in the loop by the show’s leading man, Dylan Neal, who is also serving as its producer and scriptwriter.

“I didn’t get to be involved, but I did stay informed from him,” McLean said. “He has sent me pictures from the set and everything like that.

“He said they needed to go through several versions of the script to keep up with the Hallmark guidelines,” she added. “My book has some love scenes that won’t work for them, so they had to rewrite a few things for it to work on TV.”

As someone who watches the Hallmark Channel regularly, McLean said she is excited that Neal and his co-star Nikki Deloach are playing the lead roles, because they are actors she is already familiar with.

“They are people I have seen play in a lot,” she said. “To see two actors that I have admired and watched before playing in my movie is amazing.”

With trailers for the movie regularly playing on the channel, McLean is already picking up on the small differences between the book and movie.

“It is indescribable,” said McLean. “I recognize what is going on, but things are different. It is exciting to see what I wrote and to see the new spin they are putting on it.”

McLean plans to watch the debut of the movie at a party, where she will be joined by friends and family.

“My mom called me last night after she saw the commercial, and she was more than a little excited,” McLean said. “It has been fun.”