HarperCollins pre-empts trilogy from Dirty Diana podcast creators

HarperCollins pre-empts trilogy from Dirty Diana podcast creators

HarperCollins has pre-empted an "irresistible" trilogy based on the hit feminist erotic podcast Dirty Diana, which stars Demi Moore.

General fiction publisher Lynne Drew signed a deal for UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, with Caspian Dennis and Vanessa Kerr at Abner Stein on behalf of Anna Worrall and Alia Hanna Habib at The Gernert Company. HarperCollins will publish all three novels within a 12-month period, starting in summer 2022.

US rights were pre-empted by Whitney Frick at Dial Press and pre-empts have also been made in a string of territories around the world.

Lifelong best friends and writing partners Shana Feste and Jen Besser—vice-president and publishing director at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in the US—created the podcast this spring when their families decided to quarantine together in Los Angeles. Part of the spur for the story was “the realisation that even in the 21st century, girls and women are not taught about female desire or their own needs in sex education”. Another was the wish to tell a different story about desire within long relationships and marriage.

The duo's novels will tell the story of Diana, a wife and mother living in suburbia, who has a dull job at a male-dominated accounting firm. To escape her increasingly suffocating life, Diana secretly runs an erotic website where women reveal their intimate sexual fantasies. The trilogy follows the arc of Diana’s marriage to her husband, Oliver: book one delves into a marriage on the brink of collapse, book two explores their separation and new relationships; and book three chronicles their struggle to find each other, and true intimacy, again. Other women’s intimate fantasies are woven throughout.

Drew said: “From the minute the proposal for the novels landed, I knew women would fall on these books and share them with their partners, friends and book groups: intelligent, entertaining, contemporary fiction, reflecting women’s personal and work lives, relationships and friendships, while exploring female desire in a fun and honest way. I loved the talking points around sex education, and the fresh take on long relationships. These books are going to be irresistible."

The six-episode podcast debuted at number one on Apple this summer, attracting guest names including Lena Dunham, Melanie Griffith and Gwendolyn Christie. Amazon won a heated auction for the TV rights, also starring Demi Moore and with Shana Feste attached to direct.

Feste said of the podcast: “If I could have anything, it’s for women to have conversations, to be able to see sex as a very normal, healthy part of their life—and one that can be really embraced. The shame that I felt, it was almost like I didn’t even want to ask any questions about it. I had my first orgasm way too late in life. My mother never had that conversation with me. And I think so much is focused on the male orgasm.”