Scottish writer Claire McFall’s Ferryman trilogy is set to be turned into films and graphic novels by a US production studio.
California-based Legendary Entertainment acquired the worldwide film and graphic novel rights to the award-winning YA series in a deal struck through Marc Simonsson at Soloson Media on behalf of Ben Illis at The BIA.
The studio has previously developed films such as “Inception”, “Batman Begins” and “Jurassic World”.
Further international publishing deals for the secondary school teacher’s series include a seven-way publishing auction recently closed in France with Elsa Lafon at Michel Lafon for a “high five-figure” sum. Other territories sold include Chinese Complex to Yuan-Liou in Taiwan, Vietnamese to Dinh Ti Books, and Turkish to Yapi Kredi Yayinlari, with the international deals handled by Margot Edwards at The Rights Consultancy on behalf of the BIA.
The first book, Ferryman, was published in the UK by Templar in 2013 and won a Scottish Children's Book Award as well as being longlisted for the Branford Boase Award and nominated for the Carnegie Medal. It is a retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Charon, the ferryman of Hades who transported souls to the underworld.
The Chinese edition of Ferryman was published in June 2015 and became a “national sensation” according to a BIA spokesperson. The title remained in the chart for two consecutive years with repeated periods in the number one spot, and it was China's number one bestselling e-book of 2016. Altogether it has more than one million copies, according to a spokesperson for The BIA.
The second novel in the series, Trespassers, was published both in the UK by Floris and in China by Beijing White Horse Time in September 2017. In China the book went to number three in the Open Book General Fiction bestsellers chart.
The final instalment from the Scottish Teen Book Prize-winner is slated for publication in 2019.
McFall, who lives in the Scottish borders and continues to work part-time as a teacher, described the film deal as “mind-blowing”, while the last few years have been a “roller-coaster ride”.
“When Ferryman was released in China, I was simply excited to see my story translated into another language; it's meteoric rise in the Chinese fiction charts has left me speechless - and delighted," McFall said. "The idea that readers on the other side of the world are engaging with my story, my characters, is incredible.”
She added: “Now, thanks to Legendary, we begin a new chapter. Seeing Ferryman alive on the screen is something I could never have envisaged, back when I was typing out those first few words (a moment I remember vividly), and I cannot wait to see what the future holds."
Illis said: “It is hard to put into words how excited I am that Claire McFall’s Ferryman is to be adapted for the big screen by a studio I admire as much as Legendary, whose movies like “Godzilla” and “Pacific Rim” pretty much define modern blockbuster movie entertainment. Claire was among my first signings as an agent and it has been an astonishing and incredible ride ever since.”
He said that the deal could not have happened “to a more hardworking, talented and deserving writer” and that it would boost her global profile.
“The one thing that has been missing has been the rest of the world taking note and now, with the welcoming of Legendary into 'Team Ferryman', that is all set to change,” Illis added.