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Oscar winner buys film rights to ex-regional journalist’s debut novel

Jane HarperAn Oscar-winning actress’s film production company has bought the movie rights to a former regional journalist’s novel.

The Dry, by ex-Hull Daily Mail reporter Jane Harper, left, was published in the UK last week and has already received critical acclaim in the USA and Australia, where she now lives.

As a result of the praise, the film rights have been bought by Pacific Standard, which is owned by Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon.

Speaking to the Mail Jane said that, although the book is set in Australia, her former patch provided inspiration for her fiction debut.

She said: “A lot of ideas and inspiration for the book were drawn from stories and conversations I had while working as a journalist for the Mail. “It was covering stories in Hull, Beverley and the surrounds that gave me my first real insight into how strong the bonds can really be in tight-knit communities.

“Readers in Australia have commented on how close to home the town in The Dry feels to them, but to me the setting in the novel has always seemed much more fluid.

“At its core, the book is about a community where people rely on each other for better or worse, and I think that is a value that has always been at the heart of Hull. I was lucky that working for the Mail gave me the chance to speak to so many different people and I’ve found myself drawing heavily on a lot of the insights I got from those reporting days.

“The town in The Dry is highly dysfunctional and may seem a million miles away from East Yorkshire, but I think all communities experience their own strengths and problems, and often these play out in very similar ways, regardless of where they are located.

Jane moved to Melbourne in 2008 and has recently quit her job at the city’s Herald Sun newspaper to concentrate on her writing full-time.

She added: “Having the film rights optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s production company Pacific Standard was unbelievable. I’ll never forget that phone call from my agent telling me it had been picked up.

“A lot of things have to fall into place for a movie to get made but I would love to see it on the screen.”