Carolyn Hennesy and Bradford Anderson on Spinelli’s Memoirs
Damian Spinelli (Bradford Anderson) has a unique perspective on life — part video game obsessed man-child, part idealistic romantic. “General Hospital” decided that his take on life in Port Charles would make a great book. Carolyn Hennesy, who plays Diane, is also the author of the Pandora series of children’s books. She was tasked with turning Spinelli-speak into a novel. The result is The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli as Told To Diane Miller, a collection of detective stories starring Spinelli as a hard-boiled private eye featuring all of GH’s major characters, with occasional interjections from Diane. Hennesy and Anderson spoke about how the project came to be, and what’s next for their Port Charles alter egos.
How involved were the “General Hospital” writers with the format of the book? We saw Diane helping Spinelli write his memoirs, so there must have been some collaboration.
Hennesy: They were not involved at all in the pitch or the writing process but [head writer] Bob Guza was absolutely without question the first person to see the draft of the manuscript when it was done because he is the number one steward of all of these characters and when it passed muster with Bob, that’s when I knew I was really onto something.
Anderson: But the book came before the scenes on the show were written.
Hennesy: The final draft of the book was written pretty much last June. The writers have been incorporating the book. The book does not incorporate anything from the writers.
Watch The Secret Life Of Damian Spinelli:
Carolyn, how were you selected to write the book?
Anderson: They chased her down.
Hennesy: About a year and a half ago [executive producer] Jill Farren Phelps approached me and said that all the higher up at ABC and the publishing house, Hyperion, and Disney and because of the Pandora series they knew that I was already a published author. So they’re the ones who actually approached me, would I like to write a fictionalized account of all the characters in Port Charles from Spinelli’s point of view. I don’t think I actually have the imagination to pitch the idea to them. They came to me and it took off from there.
Why did you choose to give Spinelli the literary voice of a hard-boiled 1940s detective, instead of the distinct conversational style he usually has on the show?
Anderson: The P.I. fantasies started a couple years ago. That was something that started on “General Hospital” when he was wooing Maxie, back when he would talk in the gumshoe voice. That’s been a part of his character for a while and I think [because of] Carolyn’s love for noir, it spoke to her.
Hennesy: There’s two sides of Spinelli on “General Hospital.” There’s his workaday Spinelli which is Spinelli-speak and the computer, the great tech genius, and then as we’ve seen for years now, there’s the Sam Spade/Dashiell Hammett/Raymond Chandler character that’s right out of “Casablanca,” that’s right out of “The Third Man.” That’s the alter ego that I really tapped into when I started writing the book.
Carolyn, you have spoken about your desire to have Diane turn out to be Spinelli’s mother. Was there a temptation to put that plot twist into the book?
Hennesy: Not in this book. What happens in this book is that Diane starts out as she always is, which is frustrated and yet charmed by Spinelli because no one can drive Diane up a tree the way Spinelli can, but by the end of the book, there’s a real shift in her feelings about Spinelli. He occupies a much deeper, stronger place in her heart and if it’s something that the GH writers want to explore, fantastic. But Diane has much more of an, I don’t know, maternal connection by the end of the book. It’s never, ever broached that she’s his mom. That’s something I’ll leave to the writers.
What are each of your favorite stories in the book?
Anderson: Carolyn asked me this question after I read it. It’s funny. The one I came up with is the one she also loves, though of course they’re all her babies. All of them are very funny. All of them have great heart to them. The one that really touched me was the Luke and Tracy storyline. [The Case of the Un-Tracy-able Underworld]. I laughed. I cooed. There was so much to that story.
Hennesy: For me, all of them are my favorites. If I really were forced to pick, I am very partial to There Are Those Who Enjoy It Uncomfortably Warm.
The major storyline on GH right now is Jake’s death. How is the tragedy going to affect Diane and Spinelli?
Anderson: It’s impacted the whole town. I think a tragedy of that magnitude has an effect on everyone. They’re forced to look at themselves and their relationships and take nothing for granted and cling to what they love. How it specifically affects our characters: obviously Spinelli’s relationship with Jason is very important to him.
Hennesy: I can only imagine that for the foreseeable future Diane’s relationship with Jason will be even more brusque and curt, unless Diane happens to be one of the people Jason opens up to which is not likely but not totally out of the realm of possibility. I see these being tough times for Diane in terms of just even having a conversation with Jason because of his grief.
Will there be repercussions in Diane’s law firm from the Balkan working there for months?
Anderson: I would not suspect so, only because it’s been well established that the New York partners sanctioned Theo Hoffman. Diane put out the S.O.S. The New York office sent Theo Hoffman. She did her due diligence on him but it was basically he was a master lawyer in addition to being a psycho killer. But Diane had no way of knowing that. So I don’t see there being repercussions for Diane. She was really going on good faith.
Spinelli has been alone since he and Maxie broke up. Will he start a new romance soon?
Anderson: I think he’s going to trudge along and hope for the best and hope that Maxie will stay in his orbit. I’m not sure how. Maybe in his P.I. adventures he’ll come across someone else. Maybe he’ll start following Diane around. I don’t know.
Hennesy: There are a lot of fish in the Port Charles river.