Best-selling Lowcountry author’s debut novel picked up by Emma Stone, HBO Max


CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) — A debut novel by Wando High School alumnus Stacy Willingham is making its way to Hollywood.

fictional novel, A flicker in the dark, centers on Chloe Davis, a psychologist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with a troubling past. Davis discovers at the age of 12 that his father is a serial killer.

“20 years later, she has her life back,” said Stacy Willingham, the author. “She’s engaged, she has her own private practice, and on the eve of her father’s arrest, girls are starting to disappear again.”

The chilling storylines stem from Willingham’s early fascination with mysteries and thrillers that blossomed into a lifelong interest in true crime.

“I grew up watching Alfred Hitchcock with my parents and Columbo and Twilight Zone,” Willingham said.

On top of that, Willingham has been writing since she was a child. During her freshman Advanced Placement (AP) English class, Willingham began to seriously consider a career in writing.

“I fell in love with analyzing the books and going deeper into the plot and the different themes and things like that.”

Throughout high school, Willingham also had an interest in psychology, particularly what goes on in the minds of serial killers. She says that while watching a documentary a few years ago, she saw photos of the serial killer’s family members that sparked the inspiration for the book.

The page-turner exploded in popularity even before it was released on January 11, 2022.

“It debuted as number nine on the New York Times bestseller list, which was amazing.”

Now Willingham’s words, plots and characters are heading to Hollywood.

“To be picked up by Emma Stone and A24 to make it a TV series by HBO max. So that was pretty surreal,” Willingham said.

The author has been asked to be an executive director of the future TV series, which means she will have a say in the script and be included in its creation.

“I trust them completely, whatever they decide to do with it. It’s optional, so they’re working with a screenwriter to develop a script, they’re looking at casting decisions right now.

As Willingham rises through the ranks, she says the Charleston community has been the support system she needs.

“The Charleston community has been very excited and very vocal about that excitement which I think has made a big difference as well,” Willingham said.

Willingham graduated from Wando High School in 2009 before attending the University of Georgia where she majored in magazine journalism. After graduating, she attended Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and earned her MFA.


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