By Samantha Highfill
June 07, 2018 at 10:14 PM EDT
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“No one wants to hear that kind of story.”

That was the response author Gillian Flynn got when she pitched her book Sharp Objects. Now, 12 years after she started writing, her novel has been turned into an HBO series, which had its world premiere at the 2018 ATX Television Festival.

Sharp Objects, which premieres July 8 on HBO, tells the story of Camille (Amy Adams), a crime reporter who, after a recent stint in a psychiatric hospital, returns to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to investigate the murders of two girls.

Following the pilot screening, Flynn was joined by showrunner Marti Nixon, director Jean-Marc Vallée, star and executive producer Amy Adams, and executives Jason Blum (Founder & CEO, Blumhouse Productions), Pancho Mansfield (President, Global Scripted Prog, eOne), and David Levine (EVP, HBO Programming) for a panel moderated by Entertainment Weekly’s Bill Keith. There, Flynn reflected on what inspired her to write the book in the first place.

Anne Marie Fox/HBO

At the time, Flynn said she was seeing a lot of stories about men and how they handle violence and rage, but there weren’t many stories about “how women handled their anger and their violence and what that looked like.” Rather, Flynn said she was seeing a large number of chick-lit stories about women trying to find the right shoe or man or cosmopolitan. And she was interested in something else. But that doesn’t mean it was easy to sell. Flynn heard a number of responses to her book, including, “We can’t root for Camille. She’s not a likable character.”

But eventually, Sharp Objects — which also stars Patricia Clarkson, Chris Messina, and Elizabeth Perkins — fell into the right hands, and now, Adams is playing that “unlikable character.” And for the first time in her career, Adams is executive producing the show as well. “Television is in such a renaissance right now,” Adams said on the panel. “It’s a great place to tell stories.” Particularly when those stories need time to breathe. Speaking to why this story was a better fit for television than film, Adams explained, “Camille needed to be explored over 8 episodes.”

Those eight episodes premiere July 8 on HBO.

Sharp Objects

  • Book
  • Gillian Flynn
  • Shaye Areheart