From Novel to Television Series: Garden of Allah

Posted by Hilary Hulsey on

A couple of years ago, I was heavily involved in the Classical Hollywood film community through my podcast, The Scarlett Olive, and I met and interviewed many prominent members of the same community. One of the most entertaining and fruitful conversations exchanged involved a man named Martin Turnbull. Martin had many stories to tell and began to do so in his series titled The Garden of Allah novels. His series begins on the cusp of the “talkie” era of cinema and follows a group of three up-and-coming individuals living in the Garden of Allah Hotel in Hollywood. The main characters Marcus, Katherine, and Gwendolyn encounter, first-hand, opportunities available in the industry and the lengths they must go to achieve their goals.

After our telephone interview and many conversations since, I consider Martin a dear and exceptional friend. However, I promise personal bias does not cloud my judgement when I say his novels are remarkable. To date, I have read the first two (Garden on Sunset and The Trouble with Scarlett), and plan to read Citizen Hollywood, his latest novel in the series that focuses on the industry surrounding Orson Welles’ magnum opus, Citizen Kane. His style of writing encourages audiences that are not necessarily fluent in Classical Hollywood history to relate to or understand the significance of historical moments with incredible accuracy. Additionally, Martin’s sense of humour bleeds into the dialogue and will keep you laughing like a 1930s Screwball film.

By now you’re probably wondering why I’m yammering on and on about his novels… but I’m a firm believer the novel is often better than the movie or television series.. so, I thought I would encourage your imagination by pushing the novels before the television series develops. Yes, Martin’s novels have been officially optioned by well-known producers in Hollywood named Tabrez Noorani and Deepak Nayar. You’re probably familiar with some of their other productions like Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, and Slumdog Millionaire. Noorani is heavily interested in Classical Hollywood and its studio system, so I am eager to see how he crafts the Garden of Allah novels. You can read the full write-up in The Hollywood Reporter here.


If you’re interested in the type of novel you just can’t put down, the Garden of Allah series will surely satisfy. You’ll gain a humourous and alternate perspective on the cinematic past. Plus, you’ll want to be one of the cool kids who read the books before the television series…