When local author Leyna Krow began writing “Sinkhole,” her short-story submission for the 2016 Lilac City Fairy Tales anthology, she had no idea of the journey the piece would take.
“I’m a relatively unknown writer, living in Spokane, Washington,” Krow said. “So the prospect that someone’s going to pop up and say, ‘Hey, we’d like to turn one of your random short stories into a film,’ seemed very remote.”
But, after Universal Pictures’ announcement last week, it seems almost exactly that has happened.
Set on the street where Krow’s family lives in Spokane, “Sinkhole” begins innocently enough. A young couple looking to settle their little family finds a house, perfect in every way, save the massive sinkhole in its backyard.
They buy the house, build a fence around the sinkhole and leave it largely ignored until one day, a broken flashlight falls in only to reappear, good as new, on their coffee table. What else can the sinkhole fix, they wonder.
“Any time I write something like that … where local people are going to read it, and there’s a prompt, I always have to write multiple versions,” Krow said. “ ‘Sinkhole’ was the one that I sent simply because it met the word count. The other was too long.”
Krow’s primary goal during the project had been to write something that Sharma Shields, who then ran Lilac City Fairy Tales, would enjoy. Anything past that was extra.
After the anthology’s release in 2016, Shields, who was then also a fiction editor for Moss, an annual Pacific Northwest-focused literary journal, reached out to Krow about including “Sinkhole” in that year’s print. Krow agreed immediately.
“After that, I didn’t think about ‘Sinkhole’ again, and I don’t know that anybody else did, either,” Krow said.
Then, in the fall of 2019, Alex Davis-Lawrence, another editor at Moss, called her from Los Angeles about the possibility of shopping the film and TV rights to “Sinkhole” around Hollywood.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, go for it, buddy,’ ” Krow said. Her hopes were less than high.
But in May, a real interest in “Sinkhole” had started to solidify.
Of the first two production companies to reach out, only one expressed serious interest. But to Krow, that seemed like more than enough already.
Their agent recommended waiting a few days to give other companies a chance at throwing their hats in the ring, and then suddenly, they were overwhelmed with meeting requests.
“I was having Zoom meetings with different studios and production companies and directors for like three weeks,” she said, remembering days full of meetings in her upstairs attic without air conditioning.
In the end, Krow and Davis-Lawrence decided to work with Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, Issa Rae’s Issa Rae Productions and Universal Pictures. Rae will potentially star in the film while producing alongside Peele and several others, the studios announced last week. The film is currently in development, and the studios have not announced a release date.
“I didn’t know when they were going to announce, and I didn’t know it was going to be such a big deal,” Krow said. “So I woke up to a thousand text messages and emails – that was fun.”
Krow is confident that her story is in good hands.
“I think that they’re going to do something really neat with this,” Krow said. “They’ll take it in a direction I’m not sure that anybody else would be able to.”
For information on Krow’s other work, visit leynakrow.com. For information on Moss, visit mosslit.com or subscribe through their Patreon at patreon.com/mosslit.
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