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When Utah author and BYU graduate Bree Despain's debut novel, "The Dark Divine" was released at the end of this past December, she was "just grateful for the experience."

Fast-forward less than a year, and Despain is still grateful, but she's also a whole lot more famous. Sales of "The Dark Divine" — a retelling of the prodigal son story with a paranormal twist — are considered a success, and Despain's publisher has signed her to complete the trilogy.

Perhaps the biggest news, at least right now, is that film producers Ralph Winter ("X-Men") Terry Botwick and Whitney Thomas with 1019 Entertainment have acquired the rights to her young-adult series.

At times its takes Despain a moment to realize she's now a recognized "name." "I saw the other day that Perez Hilton, the celebrity gossip, did a post about 'The Dark Divine,' " Despain told the Deseret News. "How is that even on his radar? It's surprising the number of positive things out there. And I'm just really happy."

The way Despain's deal with 1019 came about almost sounds like it should be in a movie as well.

Prior to the release of "The Dark Divine," Despain went to Los Angeles for a writers conference and to do some promotional work for her book. While there, she met up with an old Brighton High School friend, Stephanie Fitch Groff, and gave her an advanced copy of the book.

As it turns out, Groff is a screenwriter, and when she read Despain's book, she fell in love with it. Groff in turn handed the book to a producer friend who was going on vacation. The producer fell in love with it, and when she got home from vacation, called Despain to talk about it and about acquiring the rights.

Though it's not set in stone, there's a chance that Groff could become the screenwriter who adapts "The Dark Divine" for the big screen. "She really wants to work on it," Despain said. "I trust her to stay true to the heart of the story. Really, what are the odds of drama club friends going on to make a movie together?"

1019 has 18 months to adapt the book, attach a director and actors. If they miss the deadline, they have the right to renew for another 18 months, which Despain said is pretty common.

The odds are still slim that "The Dark Divine" will even be made into a movie, Despain said. But that doesn't mean she isn't excited.

"The producer was so in love with it," she said. "(1019) is passionate about it. And I felt good going with them because they were so excited about it."

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Some things will have to change to translate into film, Despain said. But "they love the story enough that I don't see them going off and doing something different."

Despain's second book, "The Lost Saint" comes out in December, and she just got approval on her outline for the third and final book in the trilogy.

What once was overwhelming for Despain has now become the norm. "I feel like things have settled down," she said. "I always hoped people would connect with ('The Dark Divine') and love it. And right now I'm feeling really good about it."

e-mail: jharrison@desnews.com