Debut novel by best-selling Lowcountry author picked up by Emma Stone, HBO Max

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A debut novel by a Wando High School alumni, Stacy Willingham, is making its way to Hollywood.

The fictional novel, A Flicker in the Dark, focuses on Chloe Davis, a psychologist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with a troubling past. Davis finds out at the age of 12 that her father is a serial killer.

“20 years later, she’s got her life back together,” said Stacy Willingham, the author. “She’s engaged to be married, she has her own private practice, and on the eve of her father’s arrest, girls start to go missing again.”

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

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

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

“I fell in love with analyzing books and really digging deep into the plot and different themes and things like that.”

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

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

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

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

“Being picked up by Emma Stone and A24 to be made into a TV series by HBO max. So it’s been pretty surreal,” said Willingham.

The author has been invited to be an executive director on the future television series, meaning she will have some say in the script and will be included in its creation.

“I trust them completely, whatever they decide to do with it. It is optioned, so they are working with a screenwriter to develop a script, they’re looking into casting decisions at the moment.”

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 loud about that excitement which I think has made a big difference as well,” said Willingham.

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 obtained her Master of Fine Arts.