Actress Carolyn Hennesy (General Hospital, Cougar Town) is no stranger to writing — she’s already written six books for her young adult Pandora series. But Hennesy was particularly excited when the powers that be at GH, where her feisty lawyer Diane Miller is a recurring character, asked her to write The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli, in which the show’s lovable computer geek/private detective shares juicy stories about some of Port Charles’ most prominent residents with her character.
“His mind is so fantastical. When Spinelli is Spinelli, the Spinelli-speak is very difficult to wade through, which is why I think [actor] Bradford Anderson is deserving of something higher than an Emmy. How he has managed that dialogue is genius to me,” Hennesy says. “But in addition to Spinelli normal, there’s the fantasy Spinelli, which is right out of Raymond Chandler … right out of Dashiell Hammett. I’m a huge noir buff and when I realized that I would get to explore that noir aspect, it was like being in a candy store.”
Indeed, the loquacious Spinelli’s penchant for all things from the ’40s era truly spoke to Hennesy. “I love to think of Diane as a dame, as a broad, as a real good egg. She can take it and dish it out,” she says. “There’s a real kind of ’40s Eve Arden, gal Friday aspect to Diane, which as I’m playing her, I love to tap into.”
To that end, getting the Spinelli lingo down (ex. “I was at General Hospital donatin’ my monthly pint, when suddenly there’s a ruckus at the nurses’ station”) thankfully wasn’t so hard. Because unlike the storyline playing out on the show, Spinelli does not actually co-author the book. It’s all Hennesy.
“It’s frightening that it came a little easy. All the monikers that he uses. I’m so used to monikers from Greek mythology [for the Pandora series] so it was easy. A couple of adjectives in front of a name,” says Hennesy. “I did have to go to Bob [Guza, GH head writer] to get some of the exact ones he uses on the show, like the Valkyrie for Carly [Laura Wright], or the White Knight for Jasper Jax [Ingo Rademacher]. Diane has interacted with Spinelli enough that I was able to do it justice. Bradford says that I nailed it.”
At first, Diane (who Spinelli calls the Brusque Lady of Justice) is reluctant to give him her time and attention, but she decides to pull out her pen and legal pad and play along since many of the people in his stories are her clients or are under their protection. (Don’t forget that Port Charles is quite the mob hotbed.) As she helps him chronicle his exploits, she wonders how much is truth and how much is his vivid imagination.
The book, out today, only covers a short time span — between 2009-2010. “We don’t really tie into the past because Spinelli wasn’t there much before then. There are people who are not in the book because Spinelli has not met them,” says Hennesy. “But we pay tribute to a lot of the vets and we bring in almost all of the main players on the canvas.”
And what a picture she paints, one where Spinelli is a man of many skills rushing in to save the day.