Ex-UCI Student’s Book Becoming a Movie


Marti Leimbach’s critically acclaimed first novel, “Dying Young,” is being turned into a movie starring Julia Roberts.

The film, now in production in Mendocino, is scheduled to be released next summer.

Leimbach, who lives in London, began writing the novel as a student in UC Irvine’s graduate Program in Writing in 1987. It’s about a love triangle involving a young woman, a terminally ill young man and another man whose vitality attracts her.

The novel, published earlier this year, earned the 26-year-old writer nearly $500,000, including a $150,000 advance from Doubleday, and the sale of foreign rights and motion picture rights.


The film, with a screenplay by Richard Friedenberg, is being made by 20th Century-Fox in association with Fogwood Films (Sally Field’s production company). It also stars Campbell Scott, Colleen Dewhurst and Ellen Burstyn.

UCI professor Donald Heiney, who teaches the fiction-writing workshop, says other former graduate students have sold the film rights to their novels--including Michael Chabon (“The Mysteries of Pittsburgh”)--but none have gone into production.

As far as Heiney knows, “Dying Young” will be the first feature movie to be made from a graduate’s work.

Teacher Honored: Former Orange Coast College writing instructor Pat Kubis has been honored by the Fictionaires, the Orange County writers workshop group.

Kubis is credited with founding the group 25 years ago when members of her writing class expressed an interest in continuing their meetings after the class ended. Kubis suggested they organize their own group and meet regularly at a member’s home.

The group now numbers about 30 members and includes some of the county’s best-known writers, including T. Jefferson Parker, Donald Stanwood, Jackie Hyman and Terry Black.

Kubis, who lives in Canyon Lake in Riverside County, was presented with a plaque at the Fictionaires’ annual Christmas party last weekend.