After years of narrating love stories on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, Chris Harrison is finally writing his own fairytale. The host's first novel, The Perfect Letter, is on sale today ($24; amazon.com) and Bachelor Nation will not be disappointed.
The book has everything we've come to expect from the show: gorgeous characters, the hope for a happy ending, and above all, a healthy helping of drama. Harrison’s leading lady this time is Leigh, a sophisticated book editor with a seemingly cookie-cutter life and boyfriend in New York City. As she returns home to her Texas roots for the first time in ten years, she’s forced to face a past that still haunts her (yup, a murder scandal) and, more importantly, the man she's still pining after.
We caught up with the host about going all Nicholas Sparks (it's true, they're friends!) and what it was really like on set with Bachelorettes Kaitlyn Bristowe and Britt Nilsson.
Congrats on the book! What made you want to write a romance novel?
I've been talking about writing something—either a dating book or a tell-all—for some time, but I wasn't passionate about anything until this project. I wanted to give The Bachelor and The Bachelorette fans more of what they are already loving: a sense of escapism with love and romance, but also something they can relate to.
Is it true that you were inspired to write it after meeting novelist Nicholas Sparks?
Yes! I met Nicholas a few years ago at a charity event and after a glass, well, actually a bottle, of wine, it became clear that we had very similar fan bases. We are reaching the same people in similar ways, but with a completely different vehicle. It got the ball rolling in my head.
Did any of the relationships from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette help influence the plot?
I always say the book has nothing to do with the show and everything to do with the show. I didn't want it to be about roses and hot tubs. The story itself is not something we've seen play out, but the love triangle that Leigh faces is what we see every season. It's like last time on The Bachelorette when Andi Dorfman was stuck between Josh and Nick. There often is the guy that is perfect on paper against the guy that is the road less traveled, but that she actually has feelings for. And there is usually a big lifestyle choice between those two.
Is the hope to make The Perfect Letter into a movie eventually? Who would play the perfect Leigh?
I would love to see the book get optioned. I think it really would lend itself to a movie. Most of the characters are based on people I know in my life, so I didn't really have certain actors in mind when I was writing. That said, I think Anna Kendrick would be fantastic as Leigh. She also loves The Bachelor and often live tweets the show. The part needs someone that could have the sophistication of an editor in the New York publishing scene, but also could be the girl-next-door in Texas.
We'll find out on part two of the premiere tonight if Britt or Kaitlyn will become The Bachelorette. Did you ever consider keeping both of them for the whole season?
No, we always knew we wanted to do a regular season, but both girls are so great that the producers were split. Britt is so beautiful and she has a confidence about her that puts everyone at ease. And Kaitlyn has this great self-depricating humor. She always has a smile on her face.
We saw some crazy intros from the guys last night—a cupcake car, a car pool, a strip tease—what do you think the best strategy is on night one?
The best thing to do is be yourself. If you’re a Bob Guiney-type, and you're already the class clown, it tends to works well if you do something funny. But if you're a Ryan Sutter-type, and you're the quiet poet, you can still play to that strength as long as you make sure you're getting noticed. Putting yourself out there is important that first night.
Did anything happen that we didn't get to see on the premiere?
Towards the end of tonight's episode, you can't tell how sunny it was. We taped all through the night and didn’t end until it was morning. Two bachelorettes means twice as many conversations! Another thing that probably got lost in the edit, largely because we wanted to make it more dramatic, was how well Britt and Kaitlyn actually got along that night. They had a great sense of humor about the whole thing and made the best of an awkward situation. It wasn't at all catty or vicious, and they should be really proud of the way that they handled it.