Mark Wheaton’s SUNDAY BILLY SUNDAY To Be Adapted!

A friend of Badass Digest gets his awesome slasher priest story optioned!

Once upon a time I wrote for a different site. At that same site was a dude named Smilin’ Jack Ruby, who was doing lots of great work in LA. Eventually SJR left the site and went full time into the world of real writing. And then I left the site and went full time into the world of rocking out with my cock out (ie, Badass Digest).

Smilin’ Jack is actually a feller named Mark Wheaton, and besides writing movies Mark has made a real splash in self-publishing. He’s got a bunch of terrific stories under his belt, including one called Sunday Billy Sunday: A Memoir.

And that one has been optioned for a film. From Shock Til You Drop:

Music video director Morna Ciraki will make her feature directing debut with the horror film, Sunday Billy Sunday, having optioned the self-published indie bestseller from screenwriter Mark Wheaton who has penned the adaptation. The film is intended for a 2012 festival release.

A novel of religious hysteria, Sunday Billy Sunday tells the story of a Dallas-area priest, Father Billy Acosta, who believes he’s been shown a miracle by God. Instead of being uplifted, ensuing weeks of doubt make him demand to see a second one. Driven crazy by what he feels is God’s silence, he heads to his church’s East Texas summer camp to massacre 99 kids - one at a time - to bring about Divine Intervention. Among the campers are four teenagers who are forced to come of age in the Texas woods, cut off from civilization, as their friends begin dying in horrific fashion.

Praised by critics including Rue Morgue (“Genuinely twisted and engrossing…may just leave you shaken for days”), CHUD (“Possibly the best slasher homage I’ve ever read.”) and Fangoria (“personal favorite…remarkably character-driven…Wheaton, unhindered by producers and directors eager to tame genre properties to studio conventions, proves here to be a quite gifted storyteller undeniably worthy of an interested reader’s time and attention.”), Sunday Billy Sunday has the unusual distinction of having appeared on Amazon’s Gay & Lesbian Fiction and Religious Fiction bestseller lists at the same time.

A native of Croatia with law degrees from both University of Zagreb and Pepperdine University, Ciraki’s first job after graduation was working at the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague.

“Religiously motivated violence created a bloodbath in former Yugoslavia and it’s a subject I’ve always wanted to explore in film. I was excited to find a writer of Mark’s talent tackling the subject in a smart, provocative and commercial way,” Ciraki says.

Ciraki began her career in film working at RKO, having been involved on the finance side with Stephen Frears’s Cherie and as a producer on Brad Isaacs’s forthcoming Have Dreams, Will Travel. She recently completed a music video for Japanese pop star Seiko, working with Janusz Kaminski as the D.P. and featuring an acting role by Quincy Jones.

Wheaton has written several horror screenplays including The Messengers, Friday the 13th Infected and the forthcoming Fangland and serves as an executive producer on the forthcoming Voice from the Stone set to star Maggie Gyllenhaal. Outside film, Wheaton created the critically-acclaimed comic book The Cleaners for Dark Horse. He began self-publishing straight-to-Kindle horror novellas in 2009 and has routinely entered the Amazon horror and science fiction bestseller lists with his stories including Bones, Last Tuesday, Night of the Scorpions and Sunday Billy Sunday.

“Sunday Billy Sunday wasn’t a story I considered filmable until Morna presented her vision for the project,” Wheaton says. “Having heard her edgy and unique plans, I’m very excited to help bring this to the big screen.”

Ciraki initially worked with Wheaton as the development executive on the adaptation of Evan Connell’s best-seller Son of the Morning Star for director Oliver Stone.

Awesome. Sunday Billy Sunday is a really intense, awesome story (I think it might qualify as a novella) and it’s cool that it’s getting adapted. Now somebody needs to jump on Wheaton’s Bones stories - a really unique zombie tale that has a cadaver dog as the main character. It’s like Benji And The Dawn of the Dead (well, not really as Bones is no Benji, but he’s totally lovable!).