Khaiah Thomson continues her run of competition credits for her debut urban fantasy novel, Welcome to Blackwood, with Queensland Writers Centre (QWC) announcing Khaiah as one of the winners for Adaptable.
Fiercely contended, QWC’s Adaptable places the best 25 authors/books with the greatest filming potential in front of producers from all over Australia.
Thomson sees the win as evidence that the fans touting her novel for film are correct.
‘I have a classic case of imposter syndrome, so being long-listed for Adaptable is confirmation that this all hasn’t been a dream or a fluke,’ Thomson said. ‘It is wonderful to know that Welcome to Blackwood is getting the attention of people who have been in the business for a long time.’
Thomson’s publisher, Hawkeye, agrees. ‘There are some great fantasy/paranormal films/series for young adults out there, but there are none based or produced in Australia,’ said Director, Carolyn Martinez. “This is a real win for urban fantasy. Welcome to Blackwood is particularly suited to film because the characters are relatable.’
QWC’s Adaptable Project Officer, Craig Cauchi, said in the past two years 51 authors have had the opportunity to pitch to producers by short-listing with Adaptable, and of those 15 books were optioned.
“It is quite a lengthy process to go from from option to film production,” Craig said. “It can take up to seven years, but I do know that two from last year are already at the point where the producers are seeking funding to film. That’s terrific news.”
“Drama, crime, comedy and middle grade books are all represented in those optioned so far,” Craig said.
One doesn’t need to look far to see that the Australian film industry is making steady progress. As I write, The Dry and Penguin Bloom are doing well at the box office.
Welcome to Blackwood’s author’s love of her home region echoes throughout her book. ‘There is something magical about the Augusta-Margaret River region in Western Australia,’ Khaiah Thomson said. ‘The merging of forest and sea is really special. Like reading a book, the diverse landscape transports me to another place, and it seemed only fitting that the area would inspire the first novel in the series.’
‘Those who read the book will recognise Gnarabup, echoes of Margaret River in Blackwood River that divides the northern and southern wolves’ territories, and the centuries old rainforests.’
Welcome to Blackwood is the tale of Freya, a young Syphon with the ability to draw energy from others, including their powers. When things take a wrong turn, she and her family are on the run and return to her mum’s hometown of Blackwood, where her abilities remain a secret. At Blackwood, a golden-eyed stranger enters her life and things get a lot more interesting.
As always with exceptional novels, there are layers to explore on further reading.
‘Not everyone is lucky enough to grow up in highly functional families. I believe it’s important for teenagers to be able to recognise the qualities of healthy relationships,’ Khaiah said.
Welcome to Blackwood is available at Margaret River Bookstore, Text & Co Dunsborough, and in all good bookstores and libraries, and online at hawkeyebooks.com.au. It joins Breath by Tim Winton, and Crush by Vikki Messenger, as fiction novels inspired by the Margaret River region (Margaret River Books to Read and Movies to Watch www.margaretriverdiscovery.com.au).
Welcome to Blackwood has previously won the Hawkeye Publishing Manuscript Development Prize, which resulted in the author being signed for a 3-book deal. Thomson is nominated for the West Australian Premier’s Prize for Best Emerging Author.
Queensland Writers Centre CEO, Lori-Jay Ellis, said “There’s no one true path as a writer. Helping our authors to be ‘adaptable’ to opportunities and navigate the various pathways for their work has been the backbone of the QWC,” Lori-Jay said.
“The publishing and screen industries are changing rapidly. This prize helps address the vital subject of sustainability and presents new exciting opportunities for writers.”
Fingers crossed for Khaiah Thomson when she pitches to film producers on the Gold Coast in mid April 2021!
Welcome to Blackwood is available from your local library, in all good bookstores, or you can purchase from us online here to have it sent direct to your door.
Lament is the other prize-winning book currently sold by Hawkeye.