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Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, May 16, 2018 1 year ago

Sarasota political thriller author Sally Fernandez lands movie option

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Fernandez launched her sixth book, "The Beekeeper's Secret," at the same time movie deal discussions began on her fifth book.
by: Shellie Terry Contributor

Sally Fernandez’s ride into the life of a published novelist has been almost as thrilling as the stories she creates. 

In less than 10 years, she has published six books with Dunham Books, and is now courting a three-part movie option.

“I really have to pinch myself,” she says with a laugh. 

It’s the morning of the book signing event for her latest offering, “The Beekeeper’s Secret,” the second in her series following former CIA agent Max Ford, whom Fernandez describes as smart-mouthed, rough and sarcastic.

Sally Fernandez autographs books at her book signing on April 5 at Patrick's 1481. Photo by Niki Kottmann

It was Fernandez’s storytelling and political intrigue that hooked publisher David Dunham six years ago when he published her first book, “Brotherhood Beyond the Yard,” just four months after Fernandez self-published it. The book was born out of political frustration in 2009 when Sally’s husband and later editor, Joe, implored: “Instead of ranting, put it on paper.” To her surprise, Fernandez, who had previously only written technical guides and business plans, finished her rant with an 88,000-word novel.

“Sally is an ardent and almost tireless researcher,” Dunham says. “The thing I love about her is that she can take historical events and weave storylines and build a plot. With her fifth book, ‘Climatized,’ she took that and turned it into a murder mystery.”

The story follows central character Max Ford as she delves into the mysterious deaths of a senator and several climate scientists. Through the course of the book, Fernandez pits opposing views on the human impact on climate change that could reveal what would be “an inconvenient truth’ for a certain former vice president,” Fernandez quips, hinting at her real-world inspiration.

Although her personal beliefs may lean one way, Fernandez says she tries to exhaustively present both sides of any argument in her political-leaning books.

“The characters hash it, and I let the readers decide for themselves what they believe,” she says.

It was the feisty Ford character who caught the attention of Los Angeles-based writer-producer team Noam Dromi and Evan Greene, who are working to adapt the book into film along with Legion of Creatives CEO Jay Williams and producer John Gado. It’s the first of the three-part series.

Joe and Sally Fernandez — Photo by Niki Kottmann

“The world has no idea what they’re in store for with Max Ford,” Dromi says. “She’s a smart woman who believes in the rule of law, but also understands that there are forces greater than what we’re aware of that are pulling the strings behind the scenes, and she’s our last great hope, and let’s hope she comes through because we need her now more than ever.”

Fernandez says she could picture “Madam Secretary” actress Téa Leoni or “The Blacklist”actress Megan Boone taking on the role of Max Ford.

Dromi is no stranger to movie making in Southwest Florida. He co-wrote Warner Bros. Alcon Entertainment’s 2011 “Dolphin Tale,” starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Morgan Freemen, and set in Clearwater. The team working on “Climatized” hopes to film at least a portion of the film in Sarasota, where Fernandez was inspired to set some of her scenes.

With all the movie-related action to come, the Fernandezes, who had previously split their time between Florence, Italy, and Sarasota, have decided to plant roots here permanently.

“When I first moved to Sarasota, I realized that it’s the culture capital of Florida,” Fernandez says. “At that time, I never thought that I’d be part of the culture here.”

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