Lisa Unger talks about the TV option for her novel 'In the Blood"

Lisa Unger is excited about one of her books being optioned for television -- but she knows better than to get too excited.

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Colette Bancroft
, Tampa Bay Times Book Editor, Tampa Bay Times

Lisa Unger is excited about one of her books being optioned for television -- but she knows better than to get too excited.

"I've had a lot of things optioned. A lot," she says. "It's exciting to get that phone call. Most of the time they keep the option for 18 months or whatever and then it just goes away. But this time it's looking good."

Unger, who lives in Pinellas County with her husband and daughter, has published 15 novels; the most recent was The Red Hunter in 2017. They have sold millions of copies and been translated into 26 languages.

Her 2014 novel, In the Blood, has been optioned by ITV Studios America and is being developed as a TV series adaptation by the team of director Gary Fleder (Homefront, Runaway Jury, Kiss the Girls), writers Adam Targum (Banshee, The Dead Zone) and Chris Silber (NCIS: New Orleans) and co-executive producer Mary Beth Basile (Life Unexpected).

"They have some pretty serious resumes," Unger says over lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant in St. Petersburg. "Gary optioned the book, and he didn't let it go. He kept renewing the option, so maybe this time it will happen."

In the Blood is, like her other books, a taut psychological thriller full of twists and shocks. The main character, Lana Granger, is a college student with a dark past whose best friend goes missing.

"The first time I heard her voice in my head, all I knew about her was that she was a liar," Unger says. What she lies about, and why, make for a gripping story.

The author says the current era of "peak TV" is fertile ground for an adaptation of a book like In the Blood. "So much of this book is internal. There's action, but a lot of what happens is inside that character's head." The longer airtime of a TV series, she says, allows for more development than a theatrical movie.

Unger says she hasn't thought about who a possible series might cast. "I never think about that when I'm writing. I'm writing a book, not a TV series. These characters are very real to me, and I have my own versions of them in my head. I have to stay with that."

In the meantime, she's looking forward to the publication of her 16th novel, Under My Skin, in October -- and working on the book after that.

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