Let me tell you a funny story.
Back in January I was going through my spam folder, as I do every few days, and found an email with the subject line: “A Stage Play? John de Lancie.” John de Lancie, as you probably know, is the actor who played Q on Star Trek, and Jane’s dad on Breaking Bad, and a ton of other awesome things. I’m a fan, and have been for a while, and I figured I must have signed up for a John de Lancie newsletter or something. I do this a lot; I’ve been on a Barenaked Ladies mailing list for sixteen years, for example, and I don’t think I’ve read a single one of their emails. So I deleted it.
Two days later I got the same email again, and thought “This is a pretty aggressive mailing list. I’m delighted he’s doing a stage play, and I wish I could go see it, but I live in Germany and there’s no way.” So I deleted it again.
And then immediately I felt bad, because the email was just too weird to completely ignore. I don’t typically get a lot of emails from famous people, but I get just enough rights questions from Hollywood studios that I couldn’t let this one slide. I dug into my deleted folder, pulled out the email, and read it.
Turns out it was from the real John de Lancie, and he’s a big fan of the John Cleaver books, and he wants to turn I Am Not a Serial Killer into a stage play. So that’s pretty awesome.
I emailed back and forth with him for a few weeks, and then on my RUINS book tour I stopped by his house on my way through LA, and we talked about the possibilities and challenges of bringing IANASK to stage. He’s an incredibly nice, extremely intelligent and funny guy. The first half of the story would be easy–very minimal adaptation required–but the second half, where it starts to get really supernatural and action-y, will take a lot more work. He’s found a theater in LA that has the right facilities (run by Gates McFadden, who you may also know from Star Trek), and we’re taking a look at what we can do to make it happen. I have no idea how long it will take, or what will be involved, or anything–I did a ton of theater in high school and college, but it was all little stuff, community and black box things with friends, and I’ve never written for stage before so I’m going in completely new. Unlike a movie, where you sell the rights and the studio takes over, this stage play is something I’ll be doing in collaboration with John, working together to make this the best thing we can make it.
The other big difference between movies and stage is that movies are incredibly secretive, and I’ve been involved in the we-hope-it-happens IANASK movie production for five years now and there’s still nothing I can really tell you. That’s why I haven’t said anything about this stage play thing for four months: not because I couldn’t, but because I’ve been conditioned not to. John, on the other hand, has been talking about it at conventions all year, and most recently on the Nerdist podcast, which was pretty awesome. So yeah: this is a thing, and we’re working on it, and it might happen and it might not. I have high hopes. My sister and brother-in-law are also theater people (he runs the theater department at a college in Tennessee) and are working on adapting my ebook A Night of Blacker Darkness to stage, so if all goes well I could have two stage plays next year. We’ll see what happens.