We were lucky enough to get a chance to interview popular author Sammon Scene, whose novels are the current trendsetters in the Thai BL industry.
Having a conversation with the beautiful yet immensely talented novelist is always a pleasure. Join us in our conversation as Sammon talks about her latest book adaptations and the thought process involved in the making of each of her novels!
Edited by- Yarnball
1) First of all, congratulations on the successful run of your first BL adaptation “Manner of Death”. The reception to this drama was unprecedented. How does it feel to see your work being recreated into a series?
I felt incredible. I mean, it was unbelievable to see one of my works being recreated into a series. IT’s like my biggest dream and I felt like what I’ve done is successful already, so it was incredible.
2) How did you feel watching the audience’s reaction to your thriller romance? Were actors Max Nattapol and Tul Pakorn able to recreate the characters in the same way you had conceptualized them?
I hoped that this kind of thriller romance is something new for the audience and to see that they loved it I felt happy that they love this kind of genre in BL series as well.
Max and Tul did a very good job being TanBun. It’s not like 100 percent: in my mind TanBun is not exactly something like this, but they recreated TanBun in their own way and it came out very good and beautifully, so I am happy. My version of TanBun has little bit of a difference from MaxTul’s TanBun – a little difference in physical appearance and behaviour, but Max and Tul did a very good job recreating TanBun and they still keep the main concept of my characters, so yeah, that’s good.
3) Transplant is the second book in the “Manner of Death” series. There is alot of speculation about the book being adapted into a sequel, with Max and Tul reprising their roles? Are the rumors true? Can you talk to us about the storyline of this book?
Yeah it’s the sequel of “Manner of Death” with the same protagonists, TanBun. As for being adapted into a series, I cannot guarantee whether it’s going to be adapted or not – it’s up to TV Thunder’s decision, so I cannot say that the rumors are true. You have to wait and hope for the good news from TV Thunder.
The story of “Transplant” is going to be in Bangkok. After “Manner of Death”, Dr Bun decided to move to Bangkok with Tan. It does not say so in the series, but in the book you can see that Dr Bun decided to move from the Northern part of Thailand to Bangkok and stay there with his husband, Tan. And he works in the University hospital as a professor there. He hopes to live a peaceful life with Tan. One day, he does an autopsy on a case that has only one kidney. And it’s not just one body. He finds there’s another body that also has only one kidney. Those deaths had to do with the people being kidney donors to somebody else… It’s not just one person, he finds two, three, even more, and so that’s not normal. So, he’s involved with finding the answer of how these people got involved with selling illegal organs – something like that. And Sorowit and That also move to Bangkok as well, so there’s going to be a story of the secondary couple as well.
4) There is a lot of anticipation surrounding your book “Grab A Bite” which is currently being adapted into a drama series. You are popular for writing novels belonging to the thriller genre? Why this sudden deviation from the norm? What made you choose this subject?
Yes, I am famous for writing something in the murder or thriller genre. This ‘Grab a Bite’ actually is something different from what I usually write, that’s true.
It started because at that time food delivery became famous in Thailand and I wanted to do something new. I wanted to challenge myself writing something completely new for myself and my readers, so I started writing something that was only like a short novel – on a twitter thread – and I decided to write something about a food delivery boy and a chef. I thought it might be interesting to see the interaction between a delivery boy and a chef. So I started to write a short novel on twitter, and a lot of readers said that this is something very new from Sammon and they loved it. So, after I finished the twitter novel, readers were like “Please do a long version of this story”, and I thought it was fun writing this story, so I decided to challenge myself by writing this story to become a long version and a full novel. I didn’t think it would be very successful, but at the time I published this story on the fictionlog website, it became one of the most popular novels and it stayed on the top list for almost the whole month, so I was so happy that readers loved it. And after that I decided to send the story to a publisher to publish a physical book – and during that process my “Grab a Bite” still hadn’t become a book – at that time the producer contacted me and said they wanted to adapt it into a series, so that was pretty fast!
Another reason I chose to write something about cooking is because I love to watch cooking shows very much. I watch almost every cooking competition show that’s available in Thailand – like Masterchef, Iron Chef – and I love to watch someone cooking, even though I cannot cook. So, it’s very interesting. And being a chef is not easy. They need to do so many things. They have to study about the ingredients, the cooking techniques, being a chef is very tough and I respect them so much, so I wanted to create a chef character.
Actually, I tried to write something that’s out of my comfort zone. I wanted to write something completely out of the hospitals – it’s not related to medical things or being a doctor – so that’s why I decided to choose a chef to be one of the main characters’ careers in the “Grab a Bite” Book.
5) The novel’s protagonist Chef Eua seems to suffer from inhibitions related to his work. What did you have in mind when you wrote this character?
About Chef Eua, I had to find some internal conflicts that the characters have to solve. Something like their conflicts in the past or their conflicts about the things that they’re doing. With Chef Eua I chose the conflict about his struggle: while making food his technique is good, but the taste is not like the best, so the challenge of this character is how to solve this problem. How he will get rid of this conflict and be successful as chef.
6) The other protagonist Ake is a normal delivery boy, who hides his extraordinary talents? How do you envision such unusual characters?
I wanted to create characters that fulfil each other. Ake is talented in his taste – he can cook authentic, original Thai food with extraordinary taste, but he didn’t have the opportunity like Eua to study in culinary school, he didn’t have the money to afford that. Soo that’s Ake’s struggle. He loves cooking so much, but he couldn’t be like Eua.
What I wanted to create was that these two characters have to fulfil each other. Eua’s lack of taste can be fulfilled by Ake’s talent, and Ake’s struggle – I mean, he couldn’t afford to learn how to be a chef – Eua can give him that. So, the main idea was to make these two characters combine and fulfil each other and their dream and they will be successful.
I think this kind of plot isn’t very unusual and I usually see a lot of movies that have this kind of character – the ordinary guy who hides a lot of talent just waiting for an opportunity to shine, so I used that idea to create Ake.
7) These two characters are initially in harmony, but later they have a fallout? Discord and trust issues seem to be a common theme in your novels, why so?
You mean Ake and Eua, right? Actually, it’s not like they’re initially in harmony and then fall out later. They are in harmony from the start to the end, but sometime in the novel they have to be separated because they have their own missions to achieve. Like Ake has to go to another cooking competition, so they are just temporarily separated at that time. The conflict between them is because Ake didn’t know what he was supposed to feel with Eua at that time. He didn’t accept that he also loves Chef Eua.
If we’re talking about Ake and Eua, there aren’t any trust issues in their relationship. But if you ask in general why trust issues seem to be a common theme in my novels, I think it’s because of the thriller- murder theme, I want to keep this kind of conflicts – it’s interesting and it goes well with thrillers.
8) Zung Kidakarn and Mark Siwat will be portraying the main characters in “Bite Me”.
While Mark is already familiar with the BL genre, Zung is fairly new to it. What is your personal opinion about these actors?
In my opinion, they’re both cute and Mark is similar to my character. I drew Ake before I wrote “Grab a Bite” and you can see the similarity between Mark and Ake that I drew, so the physical appearance matched. And I think that Mark can also portray the role of Ake as well. He is talented as you can see from his previous work, his acting was very good and yeah, I think Mark will be the perfect Ake for me. As for Zung, I didn’t know him before this so when I knew that Zung Kadakarn is going to be Eua, I did research on him and found out that he has never experienced a BL series before. So at first I was a little bit concerned, but after seeing those two – Zung and Mark – being together, I could see the chemistry between them, and Zung seems to be very comfortable doing the BL role, so I think he will do a very good job being Chef Eua. And also his personality: he is pretty grown up, he’s almost thirty years old which is the same age as Chef Eua, and he is mature enough to be Chef Eua. His personality is also matched with Chef Eua so much, he is a funny guy and I think he will do a very good job being Chef Eua as well.
9) Were you involved in the casting process? What vision you had in your mind for the actors portraying Eua and Ake?
I wasn’t involved in any casting process at all. After I sold the novel to the producers, I just sit and wait until they announce the cast, so I didn’t think of anyone at that time. It could be anyone and I trust the producers that they would find the most suitable actors who would play the characters. My role in the casting process was to write each character in detail – for example how they look, how they behave, their background – just that.
10) You are quite active on your social media accounts? How much do you enjoy interacting with your readers as well as the fans of your book adaptations?
Yeah, I’m quite active on social media. I love to interact with my fans because they’re my support and to know that they are still waiting and support me, it gives me a lot of power and encouragement to continue writing my novel or continue doing my work.
11) We have often heard about authors complaining that the production houses or director take undue liberties with the script and change it to their convenience, thereby distorting the entire storyline? Have you ever experienced such issues?
Yeah, I understand why authors complain about the production houses changing the storyline or characters completely from the novel and I also understand from the production’s side as well. I had a chance to visit the production team while they were doing the production process and I saw a lot of limitations. There are so many factors that are involved in the production process. For example, the sponsors, the money, so many things… the environment, the shooting site. You can write anything – for a writer, if you want to create such a dramatic scene, you can just write but for the production team it’s a lot more difficult to recreate that.
In Manner of Death there are plenty of medical errors, but I understand why, they did the best they could do because there is a lot of limitations. And the storyline changing depends on the production’s decisions as well. They have experience making series, they know that if we recreate something, whether it’s going to be good or bad. What is best is that we have to discuss with the production team and a writer or screenwriter to find the most suitable way to change the story and also not to hurt the feelings of novel fans as well.
12) Are any other of your novels in the process of being adapted into TV series? If yes, please share more details about them?
There is one confirmed novel that is being adapted into a series, it’s called “Triage”. TV Thunder is going to make “Triage” into a series, so please stay tuned. I cannot give any more details about it because we have to wait for TV Thunder to announce it, so follow TV Thunder’s official account. I hope that they’ll announce more information about this later.
The BL Xpress would like to thank Sammon for taking the time from her busy schedule to answer our questions!