Shane Hegarty thrilled as Darkmouth film directors named

Penguin Ireland and Gutter Bookshop up for British Book Awards

Shane Hegarty: “This is the kind of news a writer dreams of, to be honest.” Photograph: Andres Poveda

Shane Hegarty: “This is the kind of news a writer dreams of, to be honest.” Photograph: Andres Poveda

 

Production is to start this summer on the film adaptation of Darkmouth, the children’s series by former Irish Times arts editor Shane Hegarty. The animation will be directed by David Pimentel and Douglas Sweetland, Pimentel was head of story on Disney’s recent smash Moana and also worked as story artist on Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon. Sweetland worked on such Pixar productions as Monsters Inc, Cars and The Incredibles.

“This is the kind of news a writer dreams of, to be honest,” said Hegarty. “I love movies, and with four kids we see every animated film that comes into town. The directors Doug and Dave have worked on some of the very best ever made, so Darkmouth is in extraordinary hands. I’ve seen a little of the early work on it and know it’s going to be very special.

“I have to credit my agent Marianne Gunn O’Connor, though. She is the driving force behind so much of this, taking an idea I had on the train one morning to these really exciting places.”

Darkmouth follows the adventures of Finn, a young Irish hero who is in the words of Irish Times reviewer John Connolly, “mildly incompetent, majorly terrified, and spends a good part of Darkmouth making the very sensible decision to run away from whatever toothed monstrosity happens to be in his vicinity at the time”.

The first three titles of the series – the fourth, Hero Rising, is due out in June – have racked up 100,000 sales in Ireland and Britain to date but the film deal almost guarantees international bestseller status. Darkmouth will also rack up many new foreign editions as the book is published more widely around the world in the lead-up to the film release.

The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne is the last major film to be based on an Irish children’s novel. The book has sold seven million copies.

It will be interesting to see whether Andrew Scott, best known as Moriarty in the TV series Sherlock, who has narrated the Darkmouth audio books, is recruited for the film version.

“Hegarty shares a UK publisher with David Walliams, the new king of children’s writing, and it’s not difficult to see a potential commonality of readership,” wrote Connolly. “ Darkmouth is peppered with sly, gentle wit, even down to Darkmouth’s population sign, which regularly has to be altered by hand to account for unfortunate demises. While the obvious point of comparison initially appears to be Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels, which are also steeped in mythology, Hegarty’s touch is lighter than Riordan’s, and his sensibility more surreal. There are hints of Terry Pratchett – no bad thing – and, inevitably, of JK Rowling, the great elephant in the corner, but Hegarty’s voice is his own.”

Penguin Ireland has been shortlisted for Imprint of the Year and Dublin’s Gutter Bookshop for Independent Bookshop of the Year in The Bookseller’s 2017 British Book Awards. Publisher Michael McLoughlin tweeted: “Absolutely thrilled, and a bit gobsmacked by this. It’s a tribute to the fantastic authors we’ve had the privilege to publish.”

Kate Kerrigan has won the Historical Romantic Novel Award in the RoNAs (the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s annual Romantic Novel Awards) for It Was Only Ever You, published by Head of Zeus. The Co Mayo author, who also writes as Morag Prunty, received her trophy from cookery writer Prue Leith at the awards ceremony in London this week.

The shortlist for the 27th CBI Book of the Year Awards was revealed this week at the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, featuring former winner Chris Haughton, last year’s Eilís Dillon award winners Fatti and John Burke and former Laureate na nÓg Eoin Colfer among the 10 contenders. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on May 23rd at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre.

The shortlisted titles are: Anna Liza and the Happy Practice by Eoin Colfer, illustrated by Matt Robertson; Billy Button, Telegram Boy by Sally Nicholls, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey; Bliain na nAmhrán scriofa ag Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin, maisithe ag Jennifer Farley, Brian Fitzgerald, Tarsila Krüse agus Christina O’Donovan; Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton; Historopedia by Fatti Burke and John Burke; Needlework by Deirdre Sullivan; Óró na Circíní agus Scéalta Eile Ón Afraic athinste ag Gabriel Rosenstock, maisithe ag Brian Fitzgerald; Plain Jane by Kim Hood; The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín; and The Ministry of Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things by Paul Gamble.

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