“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.
That is the introduction to the jacket copy for VCFA alumnx Bonnie Pipkin’s (’14) 2017 YA novel, Aftercare Instructions. Published with Flatiron Books (Macmillan), Pipkin’s debut novel explores a teen’s story with abortion, love, and theater.
“I wanted to write a book that tackled abortion but didn’t focus on the journey to the choice,” says Pipkin. “I knew I wanted to approach this highly controversial subject matter without shame and judgment. I wanted to write about falling in and out of love. I wanted to write about fierce female friendship. I wanted to write about confronting family trauma.”
After a successful debut, Pipkin’s novel is now on a new journey of its own—a journey to the silver screen. In a recent deal with Creative Artist Agency (CAA) and Stampede Ventures, Aftercare Instructions has been picked up for its very own TV show adaptation.
“The details of the show, including where it will be aired, are still in the works,” explains Pipkin. “I have fabulous agents at CAA in Hollywood who love the book and worked hard to match me up with the right production company, Stampede. Next came finding the writer and director, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with Marguerite MacIntyre and Alex Kalymnios. They are fierce and talented women who have taken great care and will provide their own artistic hand and vision to the project. It’s all very dreamy, really. I sometimes can’t believe it’s happening.”
From pages to TV is a long journey for a story—a story that started at VCFA. Before anyone could have imagined the novel being adapted for TV, Pipkin started the project in 2014 while enrolled in the Writing for Children & Young Adults program. Pipkin worked with her four VCFA advisors on the novel and even met her literary agent, Emily Van Beek, in her fourth semester at VCFA.
In creating her novel, Pipkin explains, “VCFA gave me the space (and the deadlines!) to push this story out. Thoughtful and engaging exchanges with my advisors and my peers were everything. Finding your community of writers who will support and inspire you is the most valuable gift.”
Now far from monthly packets and residencies, the process of moving Aftercare Instructions from the page to the screen has been a new yet exciting undertaking for Pipkin. Three years after the debut, Pipkin is thrilled to see the story continuing to grow and impact new audiences.
“I am incredibly grateful there are people who still care about this story and continue to champion it,” says Pipkin. “There is no single story with abortion, and the more we see it, the more we can remove the stigma and shame. Aftercare Instructions is not about abortion, that is simply a component of it. Just like life. I hope the show can have this kind of cultural impact on viewers and be a part of the very important cultural conversation. It’s done that as a book. The reach has the potential to be much wider with a show.”
The show is just in its beginning stages, but we are sure to hear more about Aftercare Instructions as the TV project moves forward. For now, Pipkin offers us this advice for her peers, alumnx, and current students at VCFA about navigating the publishing industry—and all of the opportunities that may come with it.
“Lift up other voices, in particular the ones we’ve heard from the least, and just be kind and open-hearted. Make friends. Be cool. That’s all I can really say,” explains Pipkin. “But also, and I know it’s cliché, but your story is important. You will find the right people who will take you there without taking advantage of you. Listen to feedback from people you trust. Read everything. Be persistent. Forgive yourself on the days you need to veg out and eat junk food. Stay true to yourself while taking advice.”
Read more stories about our Alumnx through our Alumnx Success series. Interested in an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults? Visit our program page for more information on our VCFA graduate degrees.