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By Carol Stiffler

The Marsh King’s Daughter, a Newberry-based psychological thriller written by Karen Dionne, has been adapted into a screenplay, and filming is complete.

Dionne shared the news that filming wrapped up last week while connecting via Zoom with the book discussion group at Curtis Public Library on Monday, August 9.

Daisy Ridley, of Star Wars fame, plays the lead role of Helena in the film. Ben Mendelsohn plays her complex father, Jacob.

[This paragraph contains minor spoilers] In Dionne’s book, Helena’s mother is abducted by Jacob after leaving Newberry Middle School one afternoon. She is held in the marshy area between Newberry and the Tahquamenon Falls, eventually producing a daughter, Helena. The Marsh King’s Daughter centers on Helena’s difficult relationship with her father, and her eventual escape and triumph over him. It takes place entirely on land between Seney and the Tahquamenon Falls. The book was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 2017 and became an international bestseller.

Though Dionne would have loved for the movie to be filmed in the Upper Peninsula, it was shot in rugged areas of Ontario, Canada. She was unable to make it to any of the filming because the Canadian border was closed during filming.

“I think they did a pretty good job of finding places reminiscent of the Upper Peninsula,” said Dionne, who moved from Detroit to the McMillan area when she was a new mother. She and her husband lived in the Upper Peninsula for 30 years.

The film is now in the production phase, which Dionne expects to take about a year. The script was adapted for the film and modified in ways that surprised Dionne, but she has adjusted.

“I really like it,” she said. “It’s an excellent screenplay.”

While Dionne would love for it to premier at the Tahqua-land Theatre, she is eagerly anticipating an invitation for herself and a guest to attend the premiere, whenever and wherever it is held.

Dionne also spoke about her new book, which is also connected with Newberry. The Wicked Sister, which was published in August 2020, features a lead character named Rachel who spends time in Newberry’s State Mental Hospital. Her sister, Diana, is the wicked one. True to form, Dionne’s second international bestseller is also a psychological thriller.

She’s working on a third book these days, one that is not contractually bound to any publisher, so she’s taking her time. This one also features the Upper Peninsula, and is set in Grand Marais.