Phoenix, AZ

Arizona Native Makes Good - T.J. Newman, a Former Flight Attendant, Just Sold Her Second Novel's Movie Rights

Mark Hake

T.J. Newman is an up-and-coming novelist, now writing full-time in Phoenix, who just sold the movie rights to her second novel, Drowning. Deadline magazine said the auction process was "one of the wildest book rights auctions the town has seen in some time."

T.J. Newman used to be a flight attendant. She wrote Falling, her first novel, during her downtime working for both Virgin Airlines and Alaska Airlines. She started writing the novel on napkins during red-eyes.

As you might suspect, the novel was about planes. The storyline for Falling was that a kidnapper demands that a pilot crash his plane with 144 passengers on board to save his family.

The novel eventually became No. 2 on The New York Times fiction print bestsellers list. It also was the fastest debut novel for Simon & Schuster since 2004.

The movie rights sold for 7 figures, including a worldwide publishing deal with Avid Reader/Simon & Schuster; foreign rights in more than 30 countries; and a $1.5 million movie deal with Universal and Working Title. T.J. is now writing the movie script for the novel.
T.J. NewmanPhoto byAZ Central

Wild Auction This Weekend

Deadline reported yesterday that her new novel, Drowning, about a plane that crashes in the Pacific Ocean six minutes after takeoff, had its movie rights auction in a stellar deal. Warner Bros. apparently paid $1.5 million against $3 million (total), with five other seven-figure bids on the table.

The novel is about how the plane was flooded after an explosion during evacuation. A dozen survivors are stuck in a sealed part of the aircraft. It is perched precariously on an undersea cliff 200 feet below the surface.

This is her second airplane-related novel. The first, Falling, also was a "page-turner" with a glowing NYT review in July 2021.

Good luck to TJ Newman. Her alma mater from 2006, Illinois Wesleyan University, recently did a biographical piece on her after her first novel came out. It detailed how she endured 41 rejections from agents, until finally, Shane Salerno took a chance on her. Now she is well on her way to becoming a famous Arizona-based author and screenwriter.


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Mark R. Hake, CFA, writes articles on national and local news, stocks, and market events at,,, and as well as TalkMarkets.

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Mark Hake is a financial analyst, investor, and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He writes about US and foreign stocks as well as cryptos, hedge funds, and private equity. He previously ran his own hedge fund, investment research firm, and acted as CFO for a fintech startup. He focuses on finding value, arbitrage, and hidden asset opportunities.

Phoenix, AZ

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