An actor, a Hollywood producer, and a bestselling author have pooled their talents to create a YA novel set on a future Earth plagued by environmental collapse and mass poverty. A beleaguered girl befriends a beautiful boy with a secretive past and unusual abilities—and the name of Rose. The novel, After the Red Rain (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Aug.), "came about sort of by accident," says Barry Lyga, whose earlier books for teens include The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl and the I Hunt Killers series.
The author was surreptitiously contacted by Rob DeFranco, producer of the film Loosies and the series Pacific Blue, who with actor Peter Facinelli (the Twilight movies) founded A7SLE Films. "Rob said that he and Peter were interested in optioning the I Hunt Killers series for their production company," Lyga recalls. "When I told him that the series had already been optioned, Rob said, ‘OK—well we've got another project to talk with you about.'"
After hearing the premise, Lyga was happy to sign on to help shape the story that would become After the Red Rain into a novel. "I was intrigued, because I wouldn't come up with this sort of postapocalyptic story on my own, but I could see myself coming up with the details," he says.
Given geographic logistics (Lyga lives in Brooklyn and DeFranco and Facinelli in L.A.) and the trio's busy schedules, theirs was largely a long-distance collaboration. "We met a couple of times in person, but there were lots of conference calls where the three of us would have the same pages in front of us," says Lyga. "It's difficult at this point to tell who brought what to the table, but we all contributed ideas. What most interested me was not the story of half-human/half-plant Rose, but the story of this girl trying to find her place in what is a kind of future medieval world, where so much bad has happened that no one knows what's good any more."
To the obvious question—will After the Red Rain have a second life on the screen?—Lyga replies, "I've washed my hands of that, and told Rob and Peter that it's in their hands—they are the movie guys. I don't think it's any secret that we'd all love to see a film adaptation, but this has to work as a book first."
Booksellers interested in an early glimpse of how the novel works can find Lyga signing galleys of After the Red Rain today, 3-4 p.m., at Table 13.
This article appeared in the May 28, 2015 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.