BY MIKE LEONARD
There’s a gee-whiz component to the recent announcement that Bloomington mystery author, Michael Koryta, sold the movie rights to his next book even before he’d finished writing it. The novel, Those Who Wish Me Dead, was picked up by 20th Century Fox nine months before it’s scheduled to be published in June 2014.
But the way the deal came together is a story in itself.
Koryta’s wife, Christine, had taken him out for a 31st birthday dinner at FARMbloomington last September when he got the call that the principal players in the negotiations were on the phone and ready to strike a deal. The sticking point, he says, was that everyone had to stay on the line so that no one could be making side calls to see if a better arrangement could be had elsewhere.
“They made it very clear that if I hung up there would be no deal,” Koryta recalls. “So I walked outside the restaurant and wound up sitting in my car with my phone for more than an hour.”
And his wife of just over a year—abandoned inside the restaurant? “Christine had a vague idea of what was going on,” he says with a grin. “It was strange.”
But so worth it. Co-producer of the movie will be Steve Zaillian, who has been nominated for four Academy Awards and whose credits include Schindler’s List and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
This deal just scratches the surface of projects in the works for the Bloomington High School North and Indiana University graduate. Universal Studios acquired the adaptation rights for Koryta’s book, The Ridge, and envisions a television series. Koryta’s novel, The Cypress House, also looks to be teed up, with a film adaptation script already written by Chris Columbus, whose writing, directing, and producing work includes Gremlins, Home Alone, and three Harry Potter movies.
“Every one of my nine published books has been optioned for film or television, and to date, every single one is with people who have either won Oscars or Emmys,” he says. “But nothing has been made.”
The Bloomington native understands it’s just a matter of time. Several authors have consoled him with stories of how long it took their books to become films.
For several years, Koryta has split his time between Bloomington and St. Petersburg, Florida, but now plans to give up his southern residence. “I’m getting ready to relocate back to Bloomington permanently,” he says. “I just really like it here. There’s a community element, I don’t know what it is, but I know that I’m really happy when I’m here.”