Author Tessa Bailey shares the top three episodes that influenced her book.
Fans of prestige TV know that there are plenty of series adapted from novels of all stripes. But the influence goes both ways, with books that take their inspiration from the small screen and characters readers already know and love. Best-selling romance author Tessa Bailey, known for novels like Fix Her Up, is one of those authors who takes a page from the Netflix queue. Her newest book, the Schitt’s Creek-inspired It Happened One Summer, drew its heroine from everyone’s favorite would-be pop sensation, Alexis Rose.
It Happened One Summer tells the story of Hollywood “it girl” Piper Bellinger, whose fashionable, influential life suddenly comes to a screeching halt when an out-of-control party lands her in jail. Infuriated, her father sends her and her sister to a remote beach town in the Pacific Northwest known as Westport, cutting them off from all funds until they learn some responsibility. But when Piper meets Brendan, a big, bearded local sea captain who takes one look at her and declares she won’t last five minutes, she becomes determined to show them all who she can really be.
Of course, Piper starts to discover that living in Westport isn’t so bad, and perhaps she’s not so disgusted by this local man who disappears for weeks at sea. But how exactly do Piper and Alexis line up as characters, and what parts of Schitt’s Creek were foundational to Piper’s story? Below, Bailey tells Elite Daily the three episodes that strongly inspired the arc of Piper’s character.
Season 1, Episode 2: “The Drip”
Schitt’s Creek is famous for its opening scene in which the repo company comes to the Rose family estate and takes away all their possessions. But it’s not until the second episode, “The Drip,” when the reality of the situation sets in for Alexis. It’s not a surprise that this moment of shock was part of what inspired Bailey’s opening chapter. “This is the second episode of the entire series, and it reminds me so much of the opening chapter of It Happened One Summer because both heroines are fish out of water, comically so,” she says. “Alexis and Piper were both spurned by their boyfriends. They’re out to get some innocent revenge, and it does not go according to plan. But through it all, they keep their positivity, and that’s why I love them both so much!”
Season 2, Episode 10: “Ronnie’s Party”
“Ronnie’s Party” might seem like an odd choice, as it’s still one of the relatively early episodes in the series when the show was still finding its feet. But it’s also a critical moment of character development for Alexis and it helped inspire the same for Piper.
As Bailey says, “In this episode, Alexis is working as Ted’s receptionist at the animal clinic — a position for which she’s more than slightly unqualified. She’s given the unfortunate task of telling a customer, Doris, that her cat has passed away. It starts off completely cringey because Alexis is only beginning to learn how to express empathy. But she totally turns it around by comforting Doris and finding the silver lining in a sad situation, totally putting her unique Alexis spin on it.”
For Bailey, the parallel to Piper’s epiphany in the book fits perfectly. “This reminds me so much of Piper in It Happened One Summer because she wants the best for everyone at heart, but doesn’t realize she’s actually capable of helping [or] encouraging someone else until her back is to the wall. She surprises herself by being a rock for someone else. I love heroines discovering new talents buried deep within themselves.”
Season 6, Episode 13: “Start Spreading the News”
The penultimate episode of Schitt’s Creek’s final season is a fan-favorite because it’s the moment Alexis is offered the thing that she’s wanted most — money to get out of Schitt’s Creek — and she realizes it’s not what she wants anymore. When Twyla reveals she’s a secret millionaire and offers to help Alexis financially, it seems for a moment that Alexis’ story will wrap up super neatly. However, Alexis turns down the cash. “I think that was the definitive proof that she’d not only changed, but wanted to succeed on her own,” Bailey says. “There is a similar scenario in It Happened One Summer. All Piper wants is to leave the fishing town of Westport and go back to L.A. — and she finally gets the offer ... Her decision was definitely inspired by Alexis Rose’s growth in this episode.”
It Happened One Summer is out in hardback, paperback, and e-book form starting Tuesday, July 13, 2021.