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SIMON & SCHUSTER

Hollywood gets into a bidding war over a flight attendant’s debut novel

She wrote the thriller on the backs of airplane napkins

T.J. Newman used to be a flight attendant who decided to try her hand at writing. And immediately she made it work. Now, as Associated Press reported, she has a two-book deal signed with Simon & Schuster imprint Avid Reader Press.

According to Newman, the 36-year-old says she wrote the first book, the thriller Falling, on the backs of airplane napkins and on iPads during her red-eye route. Suddenly, as Hollywood Reporter writes, there is a bidding war among Hollywood studios who will secure the screening rights.

So what is the storyline that attracted so much interest? 140-plus passengers on a crowded flight from New York to LA don’t yet know that a half-hour before takeoff, their pilot’s family has been kidnapped. Now, in order for his family to live, the pilot must follow orders and crash their plane. While much of the story takes place in the air, there is also said to be a relentless FBI agent trying to save the family on the ground. Falling is already being described as “Speed at 35,000 feet.”

As soon as the news of the book deal went public, more than 14 major studios, networks, streamers, and top filmmakers were already pursuing the screen rights, which are being handled by Shane Salerno at The Story Factory and CAA. As of the beginning of the second week of February, there were at least two formal offers, according to a well-placed source — one, from a studio interested in giving Falling the film treatment; the other, from a network eyeing a limited series.

Still, Falling won’t be published until July. In the meantime, Newman, who’s already at work on book two, has quit her gig as a flight attendant.

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

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