It’s not often that a short story, written by a local author and first published in a local anthology gets optioned by a Hollywood production company to be made into a feature film. But that’s just what’s happened to Spokane author Leyna Krow.
Universal Pictures and production companies run by actor/producers Jordan Peele and Issa Rae announced last week they’d purchased the film rights to the short story titled “Sinkhole.” It was originally written by Leyna Krow for the 2016 Lilac City Fairy Tales anthology, an annual fundraiser for Spokane non-profit, Spark Central.
“My only intention for the story, ever, was for that anthology. And I sort of thought that was the life of ‘Sinkhole.’”
The story involves a young couple, looking to buy a bigger home for their family. They find one in their price range, with one catch: there’s a giant sinkhole in the backyard.
“One night, they discover by accident that anything dropped into the sinkhole reappears in the living room in a better form. So the first thing that goes in the sinkhole is a broken flashlight. When it reappears in the living room, it’s fixed.”
Things escalate. Soon the wife and mother wonders if a better version of herself would emerge if she went into the sinkhole.
“And ultimately, she does put herself into the sinkhole, which is then sort of the horror twist of the story. What does that mean to be a ‘perfect’ person and what kind of monster has she become?”
Krow’s story was re-published in the Seattle-based literary magazine Moss, and the film idea followed.
“About six months ago, one of the editors for Moss—his name is Alex Davis Lawrence—called me and said that he had moved to LA and is now trying to create a career for himself in the film industry. And what he wanted to do was to take some of the writing from Moss and shop it around and see if he can sell the film and television rights. And I was like, ‘yeah, buddy, go for it.’ Thinking I was never going to hear from this dude again.”
But, a few months later, she did. Two different production companies were interested in acquiring the film rights to “Sinkhole.” Leyna agreed to meet with them via zoom, and one company made an offer.
“The agent was like, ‘Hey, we’ve got somebody interested. They’re not offering a lot of money. I don’t know if anyone else is going to be interested. I sent it to a few other people. Let’s wait a few more days before we accept this offer. And by the time those few other days had elapsed, I think like, I don’t know. I ultimately wound up talking to somewhere between twelve and fifteen different production companies.”
That resulted in a bidding war, and a lot of conversations about what a film version of “Sinkhole” might look like. Ultimately, Krow chose Jordan Peele and Issa Rae because they saw something in the story that even she didn’t recognize.
“I’m a white lady, and the stories that I write, the protagonists, I assume them to be white. But here’s a story that I wrote that somebody thinks could be read through this different lens: issues specific to Black women. And I actually found that really compelling. I really like the idea of someone taking one of my stories and shifting the perspective in a way that I hadn’t anticipated and maybe can’t even see for myself.”
There’s no timeline yet for when—or even if—a Sinkhole film will be produced. But for author Leyna Krow, the whole process has already been worth it.
“Yeah, it was totally unexpected. Not something I ever would have pursued on my own. It really got dropped in my lap and now that it’s here it’s like, well this is awesome!”