L.L. McKinney is having a bit of a moment.
Lionsgate Television has optioned television rights to McKinney’s young-adult fantasy debut, A Blade So Black, EW can announce exclusively. The news comes just months after the book’s Sept. 25 publication, which promptly elicited strong reviews for McKinney’s imaginative novel, an urban-fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland with some Buffy the Vampire Slayer thrown in too. It’s been a whirlwind for McKinney, who’d previously made a name for herself as an influencer and diversity advocate within the YA community.
Now, she’s emerging as a breakout author in the space.
“I used to search book covers and posters for characters like Alice,” McKinney tells EW. “I ached for the stories I loved to show me Black girls were treasured like everyone else. I prayed for the worlds I visited between those pages to…be less hostile towards us than this one. I dreamed of going to galaxies far, far away, and of journeying to mystic lands beyond, and seeing Black people hadn’t been forgotten or left behind. Somehow, for some reason, we were always left behind … “Now, that wistful, bubbly, joyous, anxious, and sometimes frighteningly-fierce feeling has only intensified. Alice will not only be on bookshelves but could be on screens all over. She will be everywhere.”
In addition to the adaptation news, EW can also debut an exclusive first-look at the book’s follow-up, A Dream So Dark, in the form of a cover reveal. For McKinney, the covers are absolutely central to the experience of becoming a published author. “Seeing how the cover for A Blade So Black and now A Dream So Dark puts a Black girl front and center, I’m overwhelmed in the best way, because black kids deserve to see themselves like this,” she says. “Other kids need to see black kids like this.”
Reflecting on this moment in her career, McKinney realizes the magnitude. “Sometimes I stare at my emails and messages, squeezing my phone or the edge of my desk until my knuckles burn, praying it’s not some figment of my imagination like the times I fantasized of black girls in space, at Hogwarts, or on Middle Earth,” she reveals. “Sometimes I laugh and shout, and sometimes I cry, but at all times I’m a mess. I thank God for every messy, magnificent second. It’s a dream come true doesn’t do this moment justice.”
See the cover for A Dream So Dark below. The novel publishes Sept. 24, 2019, and is available for pre-order.