The debut novel from author Lindsey Lee Johnson, THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH, is generating tons of buzz thanks to a barrage of advanced praise well ahead of its publication date early next year – and now its stirring up even more interest as it hits the TV and film rights market.
The story is set in an idyllic community of wealthy California families, where new teacher Molly Nicoll becomes intrigued by the hidden lives of her privileged students. Unknown to Molly, a middle school tragedy in which they were all complicit continues to reverberate for “her” kids: Nick, the brilliant scam artist; Emma, the gifted dancer and party girl; Dave, the B student who strives to meet his parents’ expectations; Calista, the hippie outcast who hides her intelligence for reasons of her own. Theirs is a world in which every action may become public—postable, shareable, indelible.
The novel, which will be published by Random House in late 2016, is drawing comparisons to Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep. The story features a colorful cast of characters, exploring the brutal complexities of adolescence against the backdrop of the American high school experience.
The material could naturally translate into a darker, more sophisticated high school drama series, an evolved version of popular shows like The OC and Dawson’s Creek that dominated the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Diary of a Teenage Girl, on the other hand, are examples of features that, while small, have received great critical acclaim for their honest and unflinching takes on the world of high school.
Johnson knows her setting well, as a native of Northern California who has taught writing to teenagers in Marin County. She has a Master of Professional Writing degree (an M.F.A. equivalent) from the University of Southern California, where she was awarded a full teaching fellowship, and a B.A. in English from the University of California at Davis. Johnson was previously a writer and reporter for LIFE magazine in New York, and is the co-author of The Art of Decanting: Bringing Wine to Life.
Josh Lyons | Managing Editor