‘Phenomenal’ – SA author Lauren Beukes on her Apple TV series ‘Shining Girls’

South African best selling author Lauren Beukes’ book has received the Hollywood spotlight it deserves in Apple TV’s new metaphysical thriller Shining Girls

Based on the book of the same name, in which the synopsis follows Kirby Mazrachi played by award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss as a Chicago newspaper archivist whose journalistic ambitions were put on hold after enduring a traumatic assault. 

Kirby is informed of a recent incident similar to her own case and wants to unmask the assailant as she partners with seasoned, yet troubled reporter Dan Velazquez (played by Wagner Moura), to hunt down her attacker.

As they realize these cold cases are inextricably linked, the serial killer travels through time targeting a specific group of women described as the shining girls.

The drama also stars Phillipa Soo with Amy Brenneman and Jamie Bell rounding out the ensemble cast.

Beukes says she always knew she would be a writer at the age of five and her awareness of how great she will be helped her throughout her career. 

The Citizen spoke to the world-renowned author about this breakthrough series set to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. She says the Shining Girls had a seven-way bidding war back in 2013 to pilot the series. 

“But Leonard DiCaprio’s company Appian Way and MRC had a really good version of the project, it was exciting and has been in development since then.”

The process did put them through trial in error such as different directors and actors but when Moss came on board everything started to come together. 

When Apple TV gave it the green light, Beukes couldn’t share the good news for eight months.

The author was informed throughout the pre-production during the height of the pandemic as she was sent different scripts and was one of the executive producers. 

Lauren Beukes role in the Apple TV series Shining Girls

“I was involved as a consultant, I handed in a lot of my research materials to Silka Luisa (the showrunner for Shining Girls) from the people I interview such as an old-time Chicago cop and a veteran Chicago journalist. You can see those details coming through in the show.” She praised Luisa for using the tons of research she did for her book in the series, “she took it to really amazing places”. 

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The series tackles sexual violence which isn’t nuance or harrowing and what its like being a trauma survivor. Beukes adds Shining Girls, a show run by leading women is going to allow more conversations about violence against women

She admits the series adaptation is different from the book and this is “absolutely fine” because they kept to the heart of the book. 

“An adaption has to be something else, it is a different animal, it has to work on TV and the changes they made are really interesting. Some dialogue I wish I had written, because wow it’s amazing.”

She further gushed on the stellar cast which includes Moss who is known for her roles in Handmaid Tales and Mad Men. Beukes says Moss was the champion for Shining Girls series helping steer the ship.   

The author of several books left Shining Girls in the hands of the creators to do their magic and didn’t mind they diverted in some aspects. The author does mentions they did lose some historical characters from the book which were not shown in the series adding it would have made the series too convoluted.  

Currently, it is unclear if the fans of the book will be pleased with what Apple TV has done, Beukes explains reading is such a personal experience and it’s expected a person’s reimagined world will be different. 

“I think some people are going to be mad and I think some people are going to be absolutely thrilled. I as the author, am utterly thrilled and think it’s phenomenal.” 

Shining Girls will stream worldwide on Friday, April 29 on Apple TV.

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