EXCLUSIVE: Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea’ s Pacific Standard has just closed a deal for film rights to The Dry, a debut novel by Jane Harper that is one of the hot publishing titles in play at this week’s Frankfurt Book Fair. In The Dry, a policeman returns to the drought-stricken town of his youth to bury his childhood best friend, who is the perpetrator of a murder-suicide. Secrets of the cop’s past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime. The book sold at auction to Christine Kopprasch at Flatiron Books in a
three-book deal, and other publishing deals have been made in over a dozen territories. Harper is a business writer for the Herald Sun in Melbourne. Her book won the 2015 Victorian Premier Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, before publishers began snapping up book rights.
“When you fall in love, the feeling is undeniable and Jane’s remarkable book possesses my two favorite things: brilliant writing and an Australian setting, ” said Papandrea, an Aussie in her own right.
Papandrea and Witherspoon have proven adept at sniffing out celluloid-friendly books before they become publishing hits. That includes Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, and the Liane Moriarty novel Big Little Lies. They teamed with Nicole Kidman on that deal and it is taking shape as a major limited series at HBO, with David E. Kelley scripting and Witherspoon starring early next year with Kidman. They also are producing a Fox 2000 adaptation of Gayle Tzemach Lemmon book Ashley’s War: The Untold Story Of A Team of Women Soldiers On The Special Ops Battlefield, with Shame scribe Abi Morgan writing it. Witherspoon and Papandrea just bolstered their producing banner by setting Bad Robot vet Casey Haver as director of development for TV (they have an ABC deal), while they promoted Jeanne Snow to be director of development for film.
Harper is repped by Intellectual Property Group’s Jerry Kalajian and Clare Forster at Curtis Brown Australia and Writers House’s Daniel Lazar.