Violet Eden, the heroine of Jessica Shirvington’s Embrace, a half-angel embroiled in an ancient war between exiled angels on earth and their protectors, will have a new incarnation. The CW Network, along with Amblin Entertainment and CBS Television Studios, is developing the supernatural YA novel and its follow-ups into a weekly TV series. Bill Laurin and Glenn Davis will write and executive produce the series, with Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank also signed on as executive producers. Published last March to gleaming reviews and enough pre-pub buzz that Sourcebooks Fire doubled its initial marketing budget to $200,000, Embrace was followed by Entice on September 4; Emblaze, the third book in the series, is scheduled to publish in March 2013.
Embrace was Shirvington’s debut novel. The author, who hails from Sydney, Australia, was understandably delighted to hear about the CW’s interest in adapting her series. “It’s exciting – thrilling, really,” she says. “In my wildest dreams, I didn’t even think I’d get published. So this is kind of going beyond dreamland for me.”
At the same time, she recognizes the cinematic quality of her fiction. “I’m a very visual writer, and write as if I’m seeing it play out,” she explains. “It’s often like a movie running in my head – that’s the way I see what I write. And my books are quite dialogue-heavy, so I can see them as TV dramas.” Noting that she has “my fingers crossed that it all gets moving ahead,” Shirvington adds, “There are so many stages to TV production that it’s kind of like getting into the world of publishing all over again. You learn as you go. My view at this point is that I’ll be as involved in the project as they’d like me to be. I’ll be taking their lead.”
At the moment, the author is enjoying another first: a U.S. book tour that started on September 18. She is visiting schools and bookstores in nine markets across the country to promote Entice; events included an appearance at the Brooklyn Book Festival, and she’ll wrap up the tour at the Austin Teen Book Festival on September 29. “In Australia it’s a bit more relaxed, and there aren’t big tours, just little bits and pieces of appearances as they come up,” she says of this new experience. “I’ve been having the best time, going to schools where kids really get involved and bring up interesting discussions, sometimes about things I’ve never thought of. At bookstores, too, people are so interested in talking about the books and characters. It’s as though we have an automatic, common ground.”
One bookseller who welcomed Shirvington to her store is Maggie Tokuda-Hall, children’s department director for all 12 Books Inc. Bay Area bookstores. On September 21, Books Inc.’s Opera Place store in San Francisco hosted a “Not Your Mother’s Book Club” YA panel event featuring Shirvington, Michelle Gagnon (Don’t Turn Around) and Gretchen McNeil (Ten). “It was a great event, with about 80 attendees, and Jessica was super-engaging,” reports Tokuda-Hall. “She definitely had some fans in the crowd, which was sweet. She talked about how once she had children and her life took a new turn, she rekindled her love of reading and writing. And when she mentioned the CW Network deal, everyone clapped.”
After her tour wraps up, Shirvington will return to Sydney, where she lives with her husband, Matt Shirvington, a former Olympic sprinter and current TV broadcaster, and two daughters, ages six and four. There she’ll continue to map out the story arc for the fifth book in the Embrace series (the fourth, Endless, was recently published in Australia but is not yet scheduled for U.S. release).
She notes that her household of four seems to have expanded in the last couple of years. “My husband has decided that my character, Violet, is our most recent family member, since she has taken up so much of my time,” she says. “But he’s pleased that she’s not expensive to feed. I pretty much have the most fabulous husband in the world. He is my sounding board. He reads everything I write first and gives comments – even if I get cranky with him.”
Though Shirvington hasn’t yet shared her writing with her daughters, she anticipates doing so one day. Still, they are proud of their mother, and are tickled to see a new book arrive at their home. “They see my novels coming out with different covers for the various countries’ editions, and they think it’s an entirely new book that I’ve written,” she says. “I love reading to them, and have spent a lot of time recently on Alice in Wonderland with my older daughter. I do look forward to having them read my books when they are older, but they have a lot of other great books to read before that.”
Embrace by Jessica Shirvington. Sourcebooks Fire, $16.99 Mar. 2012 ISBN 978-1-4022-6840-3
Entice by Jessica Shirvington. Sourcebooks Fire, $16.99 Sept. ISBN 978-1-4022-6843-4