Thriller debut Little Darlings by Melanie Golding has been optioned by Free Range Films, months after it was snapped up by HQ in a six-figure pre-empt.
The post-natal thriller inspired by a ghostly folk tale was editorial director Manpreet Grewal’s first acquisition for the HarperCollins imprint, in what agent Madeleine Milburn described at the time as the "fastest response I've ever seen" to a manuscript. The book will be published simultaneously in spring 2019 in the UK, US (Crooked Lane) and Canada (HarperCollins).
Free Range Films has since acquired the film rights from Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency in Steed's first film deal as associate agent for the company.
London-based production company Free Range Films was co-founded by Kevin Loader and Roger Michell in 1996. Loader’s credits include “The Death of Stalin” and “The Lady in the Van” while Michell has directed films such as “Notting Hill”. Free Range recently developed “My Cousin Rachel” for Fox Searchlight. The company has optioned Little Darlings for Michell to write and direct.
Set in Sheffield in the present day, Lauren’s hopes and dreams of being a new mum are shattered when she encounters a mother’s worst nightmare as someone is threatening to take her children if she leaves them alone, reads the blurb. From the stark loneliness of returning home after birth, to the confines of a psychiatric unit, Lauren’s desperation increases as no one will listen to her.
The novel is loosely inspired by folktale 'The Brewery of Eggshells' and aimed at fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Emma Flint and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, and it is set to “spark debate among readers, exploring themes that are common to many of us”.
Mitchell described the book by Bath Spa graduate Golding as “exquisitely disturbing, this is 'Rosemary’s Baby' with the added shock of utter plausibility”. He said the premise was “every mother’s nightmare...doubled”.
Golding said: “I’ve always been a huge admirer of Roger and Kevin’s work, and am unspeakably delighted that Free Range Films have optioned the book. I'm so excited about seeing how the story will be interpreted for film. I can't wait to see what happens next.
“Melanie is a hugely talented debut author with a profound ability to grip and unsettle her readers,” Milburn said. “Combine this with the creative power that is Free Range Films, and I am in no doubt that the adaptation will be a tour de force. I couldn’t be happier, or more excited, for Melanie.”
Golding recently graduated from the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, with distinction and has won various prizes for her short stories.
Steed joined Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency as an assistant in 2016 and recently became an associate agent. She is looking for commercial fiction across all genres.