There’s a long and complicated relationship between books and movies. If literary types tend to view the film world with suspicion—films are, at least theoretically, competing for the leisure time of the masses—there’s also the recognition that we are all in the storytelling business and that written stories often provide source material for the visual medium. Here at Kirkus, our coverage of Book to Screen news has become a popular staple; if you loved the book you’ll want to check out the movie—even if you’re frequently disappointed by the adaptation.

When authors can set aside this seemingly innate rivalry, the film industry, especially Hollywood, makes a rich setting for a novel. The tyrannical directors, ambitious actors, high-stakes business, dedication to make-believe, and closed world of the film set—all of it is ripe for fictional imagining. Think of Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins (2012), which uses the Mediterranean shooting location of the 1963 sword-and-sandals epic Cleopatra as a jumping-off point for a narrative that even features a cameo by the film’s star, Richard Burton. Or Anthony Marra’s Mercury Pictures Presents (2022), which follows an Italian émigré to Hollywood as she makes her way as a typist, and later a producer, at a financially strapped B-movie studio in the 1930s and ’40s.

If full-time novelists need to do copious amounts of research to set a work of fiction in the film world, a bona fide movie star simply follows the old writer’s dictum: write what you know. That’s what Tom Hanks does in his first novel, The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece (Knopf, May 9)—with some creative license, of course. One of the biggest stars on the planet, winner of Academy Awards for his performances in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, Hanks turns out to be an appealing writer with a sly sense of humor and a personable narrative voice (as readers of his 2017 story collection, Uncommon Type, discovered). Here, Hanks takes us behind the scenes on the making of a Marvel-style superhero movie titled, credibly, Knightshade: The Lathe of Firefall, and introduces us to the many characters who make the movie magic happen. It’s no spoiler to say that things go a bit awry; our critic calls it a “loose-limbed, bighearted Hollywood yarn.”

If Hanks gives us gentle satire, Sammy Harkham offers a darker vision of Hollywood machinations in Blood of the Virgin (Pantheon, May 2). The protagonist of this graphic novel is Seymour, a horror-film editor in seedy 1970s Los Angeles who gets the opportunity to have his own film script produced—but at what price? As Seymour descends deeper into the lurid excesses of the business, including bacchanalian parties at his boss’s mansion and shoots in Palm Springs, his home life implodes and his wife takes off to New Zealand with their young son. The only word for Harkham’s illustrations is cinematic—in fact, it’s not hard to envision this story up on the big screen.

Tom Beer is the editor-in-chief.