Kelli Estes’ first novel, “The Girl Who Wrote in Silk,” became a USA Today bestseller. And if it gets support from the right people, it could appear on the big or small screen.
Estes is a Cowiche native and Highland High School graduate. Type Street Productions recently optioned the film rights for “The Girl Who Wrote in Silk,” which was released in July 2015.
The production company based in New York City has a year to secure the interest of a studio, actors, screenplay writers, financiers and others necessary to make the book into a movie or limited television series.
In a July 15 post on her personal Facebook page, Estes said “it’s just a baby step” and doesn’t guarantee a film or television special will happen. But it’s still exciting.
“It just means that a producer has bought from me the exclusive right to see if they can make a project out of this,” she said in a recent phone interview. “If they do have all of these things starting to fall into line ... then they’ll buy the film rights. They have the exclusive right to buy the film rights.”
“The Girl Who Wrote in Silk” is the story of two women, past and present, whose lives intersect in a house on Orcas Island. It was inspired by true events, including the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.
Blythe Frank and Rodney Rigby of Type Street Productions are working to get the book on the big or small screen. It began with Rigby, well-known for his Broadway experience. Rigby produced the musical “Marie” and has worked with “Come From Away.”
“He was browsing his local bookstore and looking for projects to develop into something more. He read my book and loved it. He called Blythe,” Estes said. “They contacted my agent — I have a literary agent in New York, who worked with a film agent in New York, negotiated the deal and here we are.”
The several-months-long process began in late 2019, with the contract signed June 2. It’s a 12-month contact with the option to extend it another year if they choose, she added.
“It’s really fun. I never expected to be talking to some producers,” Estes said.
The daughter of Ron and Sue Christenson of Yakima, Estes lives in Woodinville with her husband and two sons. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed visits to the Yakima Valley, she keeps in touch with her brother and his family in Selah, her sister in the Tri-Cities and two brothers on the West Side along with many aunts, uncles and cousins.
Estes’ second book, “Today We Go Home,” was released in September. Like “The Girl Who Wrote in Silk,” it involves a dual timeline. She’s now working on a third.
“I am working on another book. I’m still in the plotting stage of that. It will be another dual timeline... but I don’t like to talk details about the story until I have a contract,” she said.
If “The Girl Who Wrote in Silk” gets developed, it could be a feature film or multi-part television event. A stage play also is possible, Estes said.
“I don’t know what they’re working (on) but if anything comes of it, I’ll be happy with anything,” she said.