Memoir Lands 15-Year-Old Book and Movie Deal
Don’t you just hate kids sometimes? Well, this will probably incite you even more: a 15-year-old has landed a movie deal based on her memoir. Maya Van Wagenen wrote Popular: One Geek’s Quest For The Impossible after keeping a journal about her efforts to be one of the gang.
When an eighth grader named Maya Van Wagenen found herself struggling to fit in with her new classmates, she followed the seemingly outdated wisdom from a 1950s advice book for help. Not only did Maya crack the code to becoming popular by using ancient tips from Betty Cornell’s Glamour Guide For Teens, she kept a diary. That journal is the basis for a six-figure two book deal with Penguin Group. And now, at the ripe age of 15, Van Wagenen has become the youngest non-actor to ever make a feature deal at DreamWorks.
I know, right? But it gets better. Dreamworks has optioned both books and got The Carrie Diaries and Sex and the City writer Amy B. Harris “to script it into a coming of age feature”. It’s also got big guns interested, with Macosko Krieger, “the longtime assistant of Steven Spielberg”, in the frame as the producer.
All this started with a diary. The book was set up for an auction by Dan Lazar, an agent at Writers House, with Penguin apparently paying somewhere “in the $300,000 range” for two books. Popular… will be out in April. It’s apparently quite a surprise for the author, too.
This is heady stuff for Van Wagenen, who is now 15, but book publishers went wild for her story of struggle, and how she found social footing by following such advice as: always wearing white gloves, using pearls as a fashion accessory; and never forgetting that a girdle can be a girl’s best friend. The most important lessons conveyed were timeless ones like being open and honest, and kind. She found that each social clique was distrustful of the others, and that all of the kids bore similar insecurities. She was able to find common ground and feel for the first time like she belonged.
I could be bitter and twisted, but I’ll get over it. I just have to wonder what they saw in this 15-year-old’s diary that warranted that kind of advance? Is that too much, in this day and age, to advance for an unknown author?
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