I Am Not A Serial Killer, coming soon to a non-prose medium near you

Let me tell you a funny story.

Back in January I was going through my spam folder, as I do every few days, and found an email with the subject line: “A Stage Play? John de Lancie.” John de Lancie, as you probably know, is the actor who played Q on Star Trek, and Jane’s dad on Breaking Bad, and a ton of other awesome things. I’m a fan, and have been for a while, and I figured I must have signed up for a John de Lancie newsletter or something. I do this a lot; I’ve been on a Barenaked Ladies mailing list for sixteen years, for example, and I don’t think I’ve read a single one of their emails. So I deleted it.


Two days later I got the same email again, and thought “This is a pretty aggressive mailing list. I’m delighted he’s doing a stage play, and I wish I could go see it, but I live in Germany and there’s no way.” So I deleted it again.

And then immediately I felt bad, because the email was just too weird to completely ignore. I don’t typically get a lot of emails from famous people, but I get just enough rights questions from Hollywood studios that I couldn’t let this one slide. I dug into my deleted folder, pulled out the email, and read it.

Turns out it was from the real John de Lancie, and he’s a big fan of the John Cleaver books, and he wants to turn I Am Not a Serial Killer into a stage play. So that’s pretty awesome.

I emailed back and forth with him for a few weeks, and then on my RUINS book tour I stopped by his house on my way through LA, and we talked about the possibilities and challenges of bringing IANASK to stage. He’s an incredibly nice, extremely intelligent and funny guy. The first half of the story would be easy–very minimal adaptation required–but the second half, where it starts to get really supernatural and action-y, will take a lot more work. He’s found a theater in LA that has the right facilities (run by Gates McFadden, who you may also know from Star Trek), and we’re taking a look at what we can do to make it happen. I have no idea how long it will take, or what will be involved, or anything–I did a ton of theater in high school and college, but it was all little stuff, community and black box things with friends, and I’ve never written for stage before so I’m going in completely new. Unlike a movie, where you sell the rights and the studio takes over, this stage play is something I’ll be doing in collaboration with John, working together to make this the best thing we can make it.

The other big difference between movies and stage is that movies are incredibly secretive, and I’ve been involved in the we-hope-it-happens IANASK movie production for five years now and there’s still nothing I can really tell you. That’s why I haven’t said anything about this stage play thing for four months: not because I couldn’t, but because I’ve been conditioned not to. John, on the other hand, has been talking about it at conventions all year, and most recently on the Nerdist podcast, which was pretty awesome. So yeah: this is a thing, and we’re working on it, and it might happen and it might not. I have high hopes. My sister and brother-in-law are also theater people (he runs the theater department at a college in Tennessee) and are working on adapting my ebook A Night of Blacker Darkness to stage, so if all goes well I could have two stage plays next year. We’ll see what happens.

10 Responses to “I Am Not A Serial Killer, coming soon to a non-prose medium near you”

  1. Patty Wells (mom) says:

    Cool! I’m glad it’s out in the open and I can brag about you some more!

  2. Rhys says:


  3. T.J. Bronley says:

    I don’t think “awesome” even begins to define my reaction to this. Especially since it’s Q. Now I have to reconfigure my mindset to see Q as the neighbor…

  4. admin says:

    Well, just to be clear, I don’t believe he’s planning to be in it, just work on it from behind the scenes.

  5. Have you considered seeking Ms. Kowal’s involvement?

  6. Ritchie says:

    Awesome news! Hope it works out!

  7. Mike P says:

    This is awesome. IANASK sure grabbed me when the plot thickened. Mainly, it was a tar-like ooze. How awesome is it to see your work come to life. Got to be honest, I started reading your books because I went to school with Dawn, but because your stories are so gripping I read everything you have published. Hope its “ok” but I have a bit of a “man crush”. That’s not weird, right?! Anyway, I am a big fan of Star Trek and to have such great actors interested in your work I couldn’t be happier for you. When it comes out I hope I can see it. Make sure they travel. Good Luck!!

  8. jake says:

    Do you know how excited this makes me. I love trek, i love De Lance, I love MacFadden, and they are legit drama people.

    i’m excited to see how it works out. I’d be tempted to go to LA for it.

  9. TRX says:

    Almost all of the book’s momentum is carried by John’s internal narrative. Without some way to express some of that, you’re just left with what physically happens, which would, pretty much, wind up looking like “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

    I think it would take a huge amount of work to establish what makes John Cleaver tick without boring the audience. If they fail, it will probably be an okay play. But if they can pull it off, it will *rock*.

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