By Lynda Clancy, Editor for Penobscot Bay Pilot
Los Angeles-based Khanlarian Entertainment has optioned Kay Stephens’ 2009 novel, The Ghost Trap, for an independent film.
Stephens’s debut novel tells the story of Jamie Eugley, a young lobsterman struggling with the grinding responsibilities of a head-injured fiancée and a mounting trap war. The book earned several honors including 2009 Finalist, Literary Fiction, National Best Books 2009 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News.
"After 10 years of the book being out, you don't have any big expectations it will go anywhere, and just work on the next one,” said Stephens, who also is a writer at PenBayPilot.com. “But, as fate would have it, one of the producers has family in Maine and happened to pick up the book at Beyond The Sea bookshop in Lincolnville, two weeks before it closed permanently. He read it on the ferry out to Islesboro and told me later, when they contacted me, that he saw the film in his mind.
”Having lived in Midcoast Maine since the early 1990s, I found myself in a quaint little harbor town eager to scratch the surface of what the Chamber of Commerce brochures were marketing,” she said. “I had just begun to get to know some lobstermen, whose livelihoods took them far beyond the pretty postcard Maine, the romantic Maine that people from away dream of retiring to. So as I always say, ‘after a beer or three,’ I got a few of them to tell me some true stories about illegal and underground wars they personally witnessed or experienced on the condition that I wouldn't use real names, dates or identifiable situations. It took me about eight years to fully research and flesh out the novel and even then, I had several lobstermen read the book before it was published to make sure I got it right.”
Author James M. Acheson, who wrote the Lobster Gangs of Maine even gave Stephens his notes on it once it was slated to be published. Stephens uses her initial on this novel to distinguish it from her nonfiction books.
After a month of working toward a deal in November, Kahnlarian Entertainment acquired the right to adapt the book into a screenplay and pitch it to film studios, said Stephens.
“I'll be helping with the screenplay,” she said. “It's pretty exciting, but we've got some work cut out for us. After that, we'll see."
Published by Leapfrog Press, The Ghost Trap is a piercingly accurate depiction of life in a small Maine lobstering community. Its publication happened to coincide with a real-life Maine trap war in 2009 that made national headlines.
Stephens will be an executive producer on the project, along with James Khanlarian and Peter A. Couture for Khanlarian Entertainment. The Ghost Trap will be produced by Khanlarian Entertainment, an independent film company lead by Khanlarian and Couture. Kaili Thorne has signed on to adapt the novel.
Stay tuned for details about developments in the project by visiting: www.theghosttrap.com
Columns and news about the subculture of Maine lobstering.