It is always great to see South Africans do well in the entertainment world abroad. And it looks like we may just have a new super-star contributor in Hollywood as Deadline has reported that AppleTV+ is producing a Shining Girl’s TV series based on the 2013 best-selling novel by our very own Lauren Beukes. What’s more, acting powerhouse Elisabeth Moss has been set to star in and exec produce the series, while Leonardo di Caprio will co-produce through his Appian Way production company.
The original thriller novel is set in Chicago and centres on a Depression-era drifter who is on a mission to murder “shining girls”, namely bright young women filled with potential. Where Beukes put a spin on things though is that the drifter, Harper Curtis, has found a key to a mysterious house which allows him to essentially time travel so that he stalks his victims throughout different periods of their lives across decades, leaving clues on their bodies. Elisabeth Moss will star as one of these “shining girls”, a Chicago reporter who manages to escape from and survive Harper’s attack, and begins to hunt for her shadowy assailant.
For Beukes, in particular, this is fantastic news. After breaking out with the Cape Town-set cyberpunk thriller Moxyland in 2008, she next penned The Shining Girls (which she didn’t set in South Africa as the time travel aspect would have forced her to also touch on the complexities of the Apartheid Era – and as you can see by her story board below, it was complex enough already) which landed her the University of Johannesburg Prize, SA’s most prestigious literary award. She continued her success with Zoo City, an urban fantasy thriller set in Gauteng, and Broken Monsters, a genre-defying crime thriller set in Detroit. This all garnered her attention overseas which helped to land her gigs writing several high profile comics for DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint, 2000AD and more.
With AppleTV+’s adaptation of The Shining Girls, we will likely see her name rise even further in Hollywood. Not only has this adaptation attracted big names to make it happen, but it seems that there was a lot of interest as the writer revealed to TimesLive that there was actually a bidding war for the project and how it was all about finding the right company in which to sell the rights too.
Development takes a long time. Most books that are optioned never make it to screen. It’s about chemistry and finding the right talent, in this case showrunner Silka Luisa, a phenomenal young writer who wrote a killer pilot which piqued the interest of Elizabeth, who came on board last year to star and be an executive producer.
It helps when you’re out there holding a lightning rod. This isn’t a lottery win or an overnight success. I have built and built and built. You have to keep doing the work, keep writing, keep putting it out there. It’s taken me 12 years and five novels to get here.
Writing a book is indeed hard work and its fantastic that it is starting to pay off for Beukes. Hopefully, this new series can do her novel justice and we will be able to see more adaptations from her body of work in the near future.
Last Updated: July 27, 2020