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Disney buys UU's 'Dark Life'

Unitarian Universalist Principles infuse Kat Falls's children's books.
By Michelle Bates Deakin
Spring 2012 2.15.12

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Author Kat Falls

Kat Falls (Robert Falls)

Author Kat Falls tries not to moralize, but the Unitar­ian Universalist Associ­ation’s Principles have a way of creeping into her children’s novels.

A member of the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois, Falls said her first two books include themes about taking care of the planet and the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Two books in a series, Dark Life and Rip Tide, chronicle the lives of pioneer children who live underwater. “They are homesteaders under the sea,” says Falls, who wrote the books in response to her son Declan’s three interests: the ocean, the Wild West, and the X-Men.

Novel writing was new for Falls, who published Dark Life, her first book, in 2010. She has an MFA in screenwriting. Several of her screenplays have been optioned, but none has made it to the big screen. She tried her hand at writing middle-grade novels and had quick success, with Scholastic Press opting to publish her first two books. It has also contracted with her to write a young-adult fiction trilogy. The first book in the new series, The Fetch, is expected in the fall of 2012.

In an ironic twist, after Falls walked away from screenwriting to turn to children’s novels, Disney bought the rights to Dark Life. Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis, director of Forrest Gump and the Back to the Future movies, is slated to direct the film. Falls is not writing the screenplay, however. “I wouldn’t go back to screenwriting after this,” she says.

Falls and her husband, theater director Robert Falls, are members of the Evanston church, where she teaches in the religious education program attended by their three children, Declan, 15, Vivienne, 12, and Connor, 9.

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