×

‘Samurai,’ ‘Liars’ push scribe to top

Shepard carves niche with ABC Family

Sara Shepard never intended to be ABC Family’s novelist of choice, but that’s the way things turned out. At about 25, while getting a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction and looking for a job, she landed a gig as ghostwriter on the “Samurai Girls” book series, which the cabler turned into a miniseries in 2008.

That was followed by two more shows based on her writing: ABC Family’s hit “Pretty Little Liars” in 2010 and “The Lying Game,” which airs in August.

Shepard writes for Alloy Entertainment, a media content company that generates series novels favored by tweens and teens such as “Gossip Girl” and “Vampire Diaries,” and are published by the major publishing houses. Not all the TV adaptations made a splash — ABC Family’s “Huge” wasn’t picked up for a second season after its initial 10-episode run — but Alloy’s ratio of hits to flops is notably high.

Alloy topper Les Morgenstein says the company realized early on it wanted to nurture Shepard as a writer. After the success of “Samurai Girl,” he began searching for new projects. “We had worked on ‘Pretty Little Liars’ for a while before we brought it to her,” Morgenstein says, “but she really helped develop the characters and the world.”

Shepard holds the rights to the series with Alloy — she can’t be replaced as the writer, as “Vampire Diaries” scribe L.J. Smith was, earlier this year.

ABC Family also has reasons to continue working with Shepard.

The “Liars” season finale drew 3.64 million viewers March 21, and it’s cable’s No. 2 rated series among women 18-34.

Shepherd uses social media to communicate with the ABC Family aud. Net programmer Kate Juergens says this gives the show a competitive advantage.

Shepard, who hasn’t given up on trying her hand at literary fiction, says she isn’t worried whether her next projects will land on TV. “I think I usually just have my head down and do the writing part of it,” she adds. “If anything else comes out of it, that’s wonderful.”

More TV

  • ARE YOU THE ONE SEASON 8

    MTV's 'Are You The One?' Shifts to Sexually Fluid Contestants for New Season

    MTV’s dating reality show “Are You The One?” is addressing changing attitudes regarding sexuality and gender identity by featuring sexually fluid contestants on the show’s eighth season, which bows June 27. The shift from the show’s past focus on heterosexual relationships is part of the larger effort at MTV to be relevant to younger viewers [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Amazon Drops 'Carnival

    TV News Roundup: Amazon Drops 'Carnival Row' Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Amazon drops the first official trailer for “Carnival Row,” starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne. DATES August 1 will see the premiere of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop,” which follows divorced couple Christina Anstead and Tarek El Moussa as they figure out their relationship as co-parents and business partners. In the 18-episode season, the [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    What 'The Office' Shifting Platforms Means for Netflix (Column)

    The most important television show of this unusual moment may just be one whose last new episode aired in 2013. “The Office” was, in its first life in the U.S., a beloved workplace comedy (based on a British series) that ran for nine seasons on NBC. In its protracted afterlife, though, it was known to [...]

  • Adam Scott Calls Out Mitch McConnell's

    Adam Scott Calls Out Mitch McConnell's Social Media Team for Using His Image on Twitter

    Adam Scott took to social media on Wednesday to tell Mitch McConnell’s reps not to use his image after the politician’s social media team tweeted a “Parks and Recreation” gif featuring Scott. “Dear Mitch McConnell & all those representing him, please refrain from using my image in support of anything but your own stunning [and] [...]

  • Riz Ahmed

    'Lives Are Quite Literally at Stake': Riz Ahmed on Seeing More Muslims On Screen

    Art can provoke feeling, but its impact has limitations in the face of legal and systemic oppression, said Riz Ahmed, the activist and actor known for “The OA,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “The Night Of,” onstage at the CAA Amplify conference in Ojai on Tuesday, calling for the high-powered industry execs, talent, [...]

  • Discovery Corporate New Logo

    Discovery Faces Backlash From Unscripted Producers After Shift in Series Payment Process

    Discovery Inc. is facing a backlash from the unscripted production community following a shift in the cable giant’s protocol for paying for programming. During the past year, Discovery has implemented a new system that calls for the company to pay producers for shows after all episodes and related material for a given season have been [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content