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From Book to Movie Part I: An Interview with Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi, authors of KINGSTON AND THE MAGICIAN’S LOST AND FOUND

Welcome to a 3-part series that covers everything you need to know about if, when and how your favorite book might become a movie. In the final part of this series, which will post on Friday, I will share with you a massive spreadsheet I have of over 100 middle grade and YA books that are at some stage in the process of becoming a movie. Here’s to watching our favorite books on the silver screen!

Today, however, I am honored to have with us the authors of KINGSTON AND THE MAGICIAN’S LOST AND FOUND, Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi. Spoiler alert, Rucker Moses is actually two authors – Craig S. Phillips and Harold Hayes Jr. – working together. They also worked with author Theo Gangi to help bring the Kingston series to life. Kingston and the Echoes of Magic has recently been optioned to be made into a movie for Disney and they were kind enough to answer some questions for us about what that means and what happens next in this journey from book to movie.

The Kingston series is a fantastic fantasy series that explores a new world of magic that readers of all ages will enjoy. You can read the full book description at the end of this post. Just know that there are cool kids, awesome magic, and exciting new fantasy worlds for readers to explore.

Question 1: Congratulations on the news that your book, Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found, is being made into a movie! Can you tell us a little bit about how that comes about for an author? 

Jane Startz, who has shepherded Kingston from the beginning and introduced us to Stacey Barney, our editor at Penguin Random House, began taking out the galleys before Book 1 was published this fall. We had interest from a few other buyers but Jane had recently finished shooting a film with Disney and they were eager to get the rights to the book and get another film going with her. I think they read the first book in a few days and made us an offer very quickly. They loved the world building and Kingston’s journey and were committed to bringing it to life. 

Look, there’s a sequel!!

Question 2: I have seen that a lot of movies are optioned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will ever see a movie. Can you please help our readers understand what some of the terms mean and where your book is in the movie development process?

Yes, this is a great point. The process takes time and as many stars had to align for us to become published authors, just as many must align for a film adaptation to happen. It’s a big step in the right direction having Disney buy the rights to our series. With that said, transforming our book into a film involves a lot of decisions that have to be made about story, directors, screenwriters, money and more.

Question 3: I know that in the end, most authors have very little say about things like script, casting, etc. But do you have a dream cast for your movie?

Oh boy, can’t lie that we’ve thought about this a lot. We always said that Kingston in our heads would be Basquiat at 13. So if we had a time machine or an ‘echo mirror’ we’d go after him. We have neither one of those things. There are a few actors for Kingston’s Uncles that come to mind. We love Colman Domingo, Harold Perrineau or Roger Guenveur Smith.

Question 4: What are the next steps in this process for you?

Right now we are working with Jane and Disney on finding the right screenwriter and we’ve been loosely talking about directors. Creatively, we all talk a lot about other films past and present that we love. You find things in films whether it’s a shot, a character arc, a set piece or just the tone that you really love and you almost start making a collage in your head about how you’d envision the world coming to life. Throughout the process of writing we always had these really in-depth Pinterest pages that we’d used for reference from everything to what the kids were wearing, to what a mural might look like and more. So in general we are just always feeding the creative monster. 

Question 5: Do you want to make a cameo in the movie based on your book like a lot of other authors have?

Honestly never thought about that but who wouldn’t want to have some Stan Lee level epic cameos. Maybe the three of us could be sitting in the back of Not Not Ray’s Pizza having a slice. I think eating pizza as extras is probably testing the limits of our acting skills. 

ABOUT RUCKER MOSES

Rucker Moses is the pen name of Craig S. Phillips and Harold Hayes Jr.

They both hail from Atlanta and started telling stories together at the University of Georgia. Together, they’ve been nominated for three Emmys for writing in a children’s program and have written for TV shows based on books by R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike.

They also make virtual reality experiences and own a production company named SunnyBoy Entertainment. In no particular order, their favorite things to write about are ninjas, magic, space, and abandoned amusement parks. When not doing all that, they are hanging with their wonderful families at home in Los Angeles.

ABOUT THEO GANGI

Theo Gangi is a novelist and writing teacher based in Brooklyn. He’s written several acclaimed novels and short stories, and he’s worked on shows for Netflix. He writes far-out adventures that happen right next door. He directs the MFA program at St. Francis College and lives with his wife, young son and their dog. Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found is his first book for young readers.

HERE’S WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT KINGSTON

“Intricately crafted TWISTS at every turn…”

— School Library Journal

“Full of HEART, MAGIC, and MYSTERY, this is the kind of book that makes you love books.”

— Sara Beth Durst, award-winning author of Catalyst

“Coded messages, characters who plainly know more than they’re saying, doppelgängers and secret schemes… all come together in a BREATHLESSLY PACED TALE… should leave readers even more DELIGHTED that the stage is set for SEQUELS.”

— BOOKLIST

“INVENTIVE, AUTHENTIC and RAZOR SHARP…beneath the fun and twists, shining through is Kingston’s BIG, BOLD HEART.”

—Soman Chainani, NY Times bestselling author of The School for Good and Evil.

About Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found

Magic has all but disappeared in Brooklyn, but one tenacious young magician is determined to bring it back in this exciting middle grade mystery.

Twelve-year-old Kingston has just moved from the suburbs back to Echo City, Brooklyn—the last place his father was seen alive. Kingston’s father was King Preston, one of the world’s greatest magicians. Until one trick went wrong and he disappeared. Now that Kingston is back in Echo City, he’s determined to find his father.

Somehow, though, when his father disappeared, he took all of Echo City’s magic with him. Now Echo City—a ghost of its past—is living up to its name. With no magic left, the magicians have packed up and left town and those who’ve stayed behind don’t look too kindly on any who reminds them of what they once had.

When Kingston finds a magic box his father left behind as a clue, Kingston knows there’s more to his father’s disappearance than meets the eye. He’ll have to keep it a secret—that is, until he can restore magic to Echo City. With his cousin Veronica and childhood friend Too Tall Eddie, Kingston works to solve the clues, but one wrong move and his father might not be the only one who goes missing.

Part II: The words we hear on the journey from page to screen and what they all mean

Part III: The big spreadsheet of MG and YA titles currently optioned

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