Jane Gloriana Villanueva can claim something that most authors can't. Despite being a fictional character on the CW's rom-com "Jane the Virgin," Villanueva is a published author on the show and in real life. Her debut historical romance, "Snow Falling," was unveiled in the Nov. 10 episode of "Jane the Virgin" and then hit actual bookstores across America.
Life imitates art in this elaborate act of corporate synergy swirling around the story of a Latina virgin who works in a Miami hotel. On the show, viewers saw Jane pursuing an MFA and writing a novel called "Snow Falling" in her spare time. Variety reports that Simon & Schuster approached its fellow CBS subsidiary the CW about making Jane's book a reality. To pull off that bit of publishing trompe-l'œil, Simon & Schuster imprint Adams Media renamed itself Lorden + Gregor, the fictional publishing house that buys Jane's novel in Season 3.
The real paperback book sports blurbs from fictional characters such as Jane's biological father, telenovela star Rogelio De La Vega; Jane's favorite romance writer, Angelique Harper; and her faculty adviser, Marlene Donaldson. Even the book's ghost writer, Caridad Pineiro, gets in on the joke, saying, "Jane's novel is so much fun I wish I'd written it myself!"
"Snow Falling" essentially moves the basic plot of "Jane the Virgin" to the early 20th century. But what works well on the show doesn't always make a convincing story line in the book. For instance, while Jane's virginity differentiates her in the current-day plot, waiting until marriage was the societal norm in 1902. And a relationship crossing cultural divides would have confronted a lot more racism in the early 1900s than we see in these pages.
So, fans of the TV show shouldn't look for new thrills and plot twists in "Snow Falling," but it might be just the thing for a cold winter's night between episodes.
Meta as Jane's novel is, books jumping out of popular TV shows, movies and other books are nothing new. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," "Quidditch Through the Ages" and "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" all emerged from the Harry Potter universe. As a marketing strategy, these products have the advantage of instant name recognition and a built-in audience. With the ongoing shift in how people consume books, it will be interesting to see if more titles mentioned in movies and TV shows come to sit on actual shelves.
My vote is for "Congratulations, You're Dying," the debut novel by Jimmy Shive-Overly, the British cad on FXX's rom-com "You're the Worst."
Nicole Y. Chung works in Book World at The Washington Post.
By Jane Gloriana Villanueva
Lorden + Gregor. 240 pp. Paperback, $15.99