Staten Island author’s new book optioned for TV

STATEN ISLAND, NY — One man’s coronavirus pandemic project will soon head to the small screen.

“The Paradox Hotel,” the latest novel by author and Staten Island native Rob Hart, 39, has been optioned for TV by Working Title, a film and television production company owned by Universal Pictures.

This is the second straight novel from the Stapleton-based author to have been optioned: Film rights for Hart’s novel, “The Warehouse” (2019), were sold to Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, with Howard attached to direct.

HOW IT CAME TO BE

According to the novel’s synopsis, if you’re an ultra-wealthy time tourist making a jaunt to Ancient Greece, a visit to the Triassic Period, or sightseeing at the Battle of Gettysburg, the Paradox is where you stay as you await your “flight ”to the past. Which means that on any given day, its hallways are teeming with rich travelers decked out for a dozen different periods — not to mention the occasional dino-egg smuggler or Atlantis truther. On top of that, proximity to the timeport makes for some intriguing side effects. The clocks here run backwards on occasion — and, rumor has it, ghosts stroll the halls. Main protagonist January Cole runs security at the Paradox, which isn’t quite the easy gig she bargained for.

Staten Island native Rob Hart’s newest novel, “The Paradox Hotel” is out Feb. 22, 2022.

The Monsignor Farrell alumnus said “The Paradox Hotel” was inspired by “Sleep No More,” an interactive theater experience in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, and that he began writing it just before the pandemic.

“[’Sleep No More’] is really, really fun and creepy, and I’ve done it like five or six times,” said Hart, a former Staten Island Advance reporter. “There was one time I was there… and the rooms start changing. And I got this really random idea, like, it wouldn’t be cool if there was a hotel [where] you could walk into a room and it was, like, 10 minutes in the future or like five minutes ago? And I got home and I just opened up a file and wrote, ‘Time travel hotel,’ and just kind of closed it and went on with my day.”

Hart said the idea kept building and building until it was strong enough to definitively become his next novel, and off he went.

“The Paradox Hotel” is a slight departure in genre for Hart. Known for his dark-dystopia suspense-thrillers, the new novel is Hart’s first foray into science-fiction.

“I’ve always wanted to do a time-travel thing [and] I’m a big fan of old-school crime and mystery, so I thought it might be kind of cool to sort of go back to those roots a little bit, but within sort of like a speculative sci-fi lens. [Writing ‘The Paradox Hotel’] was really rewarding.”

‘PARADOX HOTEL’ REAPING PRAISE

Hart’s novel has been praised as “stellar,” “engrossing” and “electric” by several review publications, websites and best-selling authors, with one book review magazine proclaiming the “riveting read [is] likely to win [Hart] scores of new fans.”

“It’s unbelievable [getting good feedback from other writers],” Hart said. “Writing is difficult in the sense that you do it by yourself. You invest so much time and effort without knowing whether or not what you’re doing is good. I have a certain level of competence as a writer, but … there’s a lot of imposter syndrome, there’s a lot of self-doubt and it’s really raw and vulnerable.

“And when you send the book out to the world, you’re just terrified of how people are going to react to it. And I’ve been really lucky in the sense that the reaction to this one so far has been really positive.”

PIECES FALLING INTO PLACE

Hart said he sold “The Paradox Hotel” “on spec, which basically means that I wrote an 18-page outline, and then I wrote like the first like 50 or 60 pages and then gave it to my editor and he was like, ‘ okay, cool. Yeah, let’s do this.’”

While Hart and his editor were initially going to wait until the novel was finished in its entirety before pitching it for TV and film, “The Paradox Hotel” received incredible interest when word of the novel made its way onto Publishers Marketplace, a tool used by thousands of editors, agents, rights professionals, publishers, authors and others.

“We started getting tons of phone calls from people who were interested. … I ended up going with Working Title because they were super enthusiastic,” said Hart. He added he recently read the pilot for “The Paradox Hotel,” and that it’s “fantastic.”

“I’ve currently got, like, three projects being adapted [including ‘The Paradox Hotel’]: ‘Warehouse’ is being developed for a movie, and the crime series I wrote, the ‘Ash McKenna’ books, are being developed for TV, too. If one of them hits, that would be really nice. That’d be pretty exciting.”

Hart has put his, well, heart into his latest novel, and is excited for readers across the borough and beyond to check it out.

“I just try to have as much fun as I can, and [I] hope people come along for the ride.”

“The Paradox Hotel” (Ballantine Books) goes on sale Feb. 22, and will also be available as an ebook and on audio.

You can meet the author in-person during a book event on Feb. 26 at 2 pm at the Staten Island Barnes & Noble, 2655 Richmond Ave., New Springville.

For more on Rob Hart, visit his website, or follow him on Instagram (@robwhart1) and Twitter (@robwhart).

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