UK-based Catalyst Global Media has optioned Frances Hardinge’s fantasy/horror YA novel Cuckoo Song with an eye to turning it into an event miniseries. The coming-of-age tale centers on a girl wrestling with her identity and place in the world. Originally published in 2014, it was the first YA book to win the British Fantasy Awards top prize and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the James Herbert Award.
The story is set in 1920s England where a young girl wakes after an accident to find herself and the life around her eerily altered. Her diary is of no help to her memory loss because all of the pages have been ripped out, her sister seems frightened of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She soon unearths a magical world and embarks on a quest to repair her broken family which is still haunted by the events of World War I.
Hardinge also won the 2015 Costa Book Award for The Lie Tree, becoming the first children’s author to pick up the main prize since Phillip Pullman in 2001. A Cuckoo Song series would be the first screen adaptation of one of her works.
Envisioned as a four-part drama, it will be produced by Catalyst, the company which executive produced ITV’s Peter & Wendy and last year pacted with John Woo for planned crime thriller series, Cognition. The indie was founded by Charlotte Walls in 2015 and also has a partnership with Warner Music via which it identifies and is developing a slate of feature biopics and documentaries based on the label’s artists.
Catalyst also recently hired former Carnival Films executive Chris Farrer as development exec, and Ecosse Films vet Emily Barttelot in the role of development and production coordinator.