EXCLUSIVE: After aggressively pursuing rights, Paramount Pictures has preemptively acquired the Wayward Children fantasy book series by Seanan McGuire. With six books already published and a seventh installment coming in early 2022, the studio plans to build a franchise around this universe of characters and stories.
Sources say Paramount’s Motion Picture Group president Emma Watts has had her eye on the series for some time and was hands on in making sure the studio landed the rights. Insiders say the studio views the series as a possible franchise given the huge fanbase that is behind it, and add it has already drawn interest from top talent to be a part of it.
The series adaptations will be produced by Pouya Shahbazian. The series takes place in Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children, a boarding school for people who have returned home from magical fantasy worlds and have trouble readjusting to their old lives. For as long as time, children have always found doorways into different worlds, whether down rabbit holes and wishing wells or through wardrobes and magic mirrors, but this series explores what happens to the ones who come back — and want nothing more than to return to those other worlds.
This surreal and subversive take on portal fantasy stories is centered around a culturally diverse group of teenagers across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, as they work to make sense of the fantastical realms they came from and the shared world they find themselves back in.
The first novella in the series, Every Heart a Doorway, was acclaimed upon release by Macmillan in 2016, winning every fantasy/science fiction award from the Hugo to the Nebula prize. Subsequent installments have continued to rack up accolades. McGuire is a prolific author who has published more than 50 novels, plus novellas and short stories, since she burst onto the publishing scene in 2008. She has also written Spider-Gwen and X-Men comics for Marvel and book tie-ins for Star Wars and Alien.
Shahbazian is currently in prep for Season 2 of Netflix’s hit series Shadow & Bone. He also executive produces the Hulu series Love, Victor, which debuted its second season last month. His previous credits include Lionsgate’s Divergent franchise, which grossed over $750 million at the worldwide box office, as well as A24 and Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, for which he earned a BAFTA nomination.
Shahbazian is repped by attorneys Howard Abramson and Jennifer Levy of Behr Abramson. Seanan McGuire is repped by Diana Fox of Fox Literary and attorney Steve Younger of Myman Greenspan.