Joel Edgerton and Troy Lum board TV drama ‘Boy Swallows Universe’

Joel Edgerton

Australian journalist Trent Dalton’s debut novel, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story set in Brisbane in the 1980s, is to be turned into an international TV drama series.

Joel Edgerton, Hopscotch Features’ Troy Lum, Anonymous Content’s Kerry Kohansky-Roberts and Chapter One’s Sophie Gardiner will produce Boy Swallows Universe.

Dalton will serve as an executive producer but no writer has yet been set, according to Deadline.

The UK-based Chapter One was formed last year by US talent management and production company Anonymous Content and the UK talent agencies Casarotto Ramsay and United.

Published by HarperCollins Australia, the tome follows a young boy who is trying to find his way despite his mum being in jail, his stepfather pushing heroin, and the attentions of a local drug kingpin. Amid this chaos he embarks on his first romance.

The screen rights deal negotiated with HarperCollins Australia followed a “heated international auction,” according to the publisher.

More than 160,000 copies have been sold in Australia and it was named Book of the Year at the Indie Book Awards and the Australian Book Awards. It will be published in the US, the UK and more than 30 other territories over the coming year.

On HarperCollins website Dalton says: “The key characters all draw on the people I love most in the world. The most beautiful and complex people I’ve ever known, and I never even had to walk out the door of my house to find them. I just wanted to give the world a story. To turn all these crazy and sad and tragic and beautiful things I’ve seen into a crazy, sad, tragic and beautiful story.

“Love, above all else, is threaded through this novel. I wanted to write about how it is possible to love someone who has killed. How it is possible to love someone who has hurt you deeply. How love is the closest thing we have to the truly profound.

“The kid in the book is feeling love like he’s feeling the edge of the universe, and it’s so big and beyond him he can only see it in colours and explosions in the cosmos. He can explain those things he sees in his mind – even the things he might hear in his head – with about as much clarity as anyone can truly give the mysteries of true love. He can only feel these things.

“Ultimately, it’s a love story.”

Edgerton produced, wrote and directed Boy Erased and The Gift. Lum has been focussing on Hopscotch Features since he departed eOne last November.