Lake Charles native Erin Entrada Kelly’s award-winning novel “Hello, Universe” will be adapted into a movie for Netflix.
Kelly is an former American Press reporter who current resides in New Castle County, Del. According to her website, she is a professor of children’s literature in the graduate fiction and publishing programs at Rosemont College, where she earned her MFA.
“Hello, Universe” is her third novel, and in February 2018, the book earned its author the John Newbery award. She was the first Filipina-American and only the fourth Asian-American to receive the award since its inception in 1922.
“I’ve been writing my whole life, since I was a kid,” she said about her love for the written word. “My first book was published in 2015. It’s something I’ve been working toward since I was a little girl at T.H. Watkins Elementary.”
According to Kelly, the novel is told from four intertwining points of view —Virgil Salinas, a shy, socially awkward kid; his unrequited crush Valencia Somerset, who is deaf; his friend, Kaori Tanaka, a self-proclaimed psychic; and Chet, the neighborhood bully. “Chet pulls a prank on Virgil, which inadvertently traps Virgil in an abandoned well,” she said. “Kaori and Valencia set out to find him.”
The novel is currently in the hands of screenwriter Michael Golamco, Kelly said in an email interview with the American Press, and is in the very early stages of being adapted into a screenplay.
She first learned that Netflix was interested several months ago when contacted by her film agent. “There have been many meetings, phone calls, contracts and emails since then, all leading up to the official announcement,” she said.
How does Kelly feel about this opportunity? “It’s difficult to describe,” she said. “It’s been very surreal.”
Netflix is teaming up with Forest Whitaker to produce a live-action family movie based on the book.
“It’s pretty incredible. I mean, it’s Forest Whitaker, after all,” she said. “But I’m also stoked that the film is in the hands of Nina Yang Bongiovi. Nina and Forest’s joint company, Significant Productions, has produced some amazing films. They’re dedicated to giving representation to otherwise marginalized groups, which is important, considering the diverse cast of characters in the book.”
In addition to “Hello, Universe,” Kelly has also written “You Go First,” “The Land of Forgotten Girls” and “Blackbird Fly.” She is a New York Times Bestseller and has earned several honors, including being included on the 2018 Texas Bluebonnet List, Kirkus Best Books of the Year, The Washington Post Best Books of the Year, New York Public Library Best Books of the Year, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, Chicago Public Library Best Books of the Year and 2018 Carwheel Award.
Her short fiction has been nominated for the Philippines Free Press Literary Award for Short Fiction and the Pushcart Prize.
“Hello, Universe” by Erin Entrada Kelly is published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Learn more about Kelly by visiting www.erinentradeakelly.com