Going to see Black Panther turned out to be more than just a movie night for a Seattle business analyst.
Black Panther was more than just the latest release on the list of Marvel movies this year. For many viewers it was more significant–the results of an ongoing call-to-action that demands more representation in our media. So when Marvel delivered a superhero film complete with a full cast of black actors, long-standing Marvel fans and new viewers showed up with dollars in hand.
For Seattle business analyst Brittney Morris watching the film has turned out to be so much more. After the ending credits rolled by and the Easter eggs were done Morris left the theater not as she arrived, a mere viewer, but a self-described Wakandian queen, so inspired by what she saw on screen she had to do something.
“I left the theater a Wakandian queen,” she explained toPublisher’s Weekly. “And then I went back to work the following Monday, back to the same routine. Nothing had changed after my religious experience that weekend. It felt like I was living a double life in a way, like I had a secret identity that stepped into a whole different world when I left the office.”
Her solution? Slay.
Slay is the story of Kiera Johnson, a 17 year old online game developer, whose popular role playing game comes under fire when a young black teen is murdered over an online dispute and internet trolls attack the game calling it anti-white and a playground for violent thugs and criminals. When Kiera is faced with a anti-discrimination lawsuit she proposes a high-stakes virtual duel to the suspected accuser where she’ll risk everything–including control of her company.
And slay is what what Morris did, writing the novel in 11 days and pitching it on Twitter on the 12th day for the Twitter-based pitch extravaganza, #PitMad. Slay got the attention of 140 agents, resulting in an auction where seven editors from the “Big Five” publishing houses competed for the rights to her debut novel–landing the new author a six-figure deal for two books with Simon Pulse, the teen imprint of Simon & Schuster.
“It was a perfect storm. It’s a commercial concept with deep emotional themes and a voice that really pulls you from page one. The book beautifully explores what it means to be a person of color in a world without a lot of safe spaces; as an editor of color, that really resonated with me. It’s a well told story with nuanced characters you want to root for as they navigate difficult situations,” Simon & Pulse editor Jennifer Ung said.
In addition to the deal, the author is said to be fielding offers from nearly 20 TV and movie studios that are interested in adapting the story for the big screen.
Big-figure book deals seem to be the style these days for new young adult authors. Recently debut titles like Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi) and The Hate You Give (Angie Thomas), which reportedly received seven-figure and six-figure deals respectively, both induced bidding wars among publishers and received movie deals recently.
The Children of Blood and Bone movie is still in development but The Hate You Give premieres next month and stars actress Amandla Stenberg.
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