Stars Collective Options Shawn M. Warner YA Murder Mystery


Stars Collective has optioned Shawn M. Warner’s Leigh Howard and the Ghosts of Simmons-Pierce Manor to explore potential TV and film adaptations.

The YA murder mystery novel, which went viral on TikTok in 2023 and became a number one bestseller on Amazon Books, centers on an orphaned teenage girl who teams up with a ghost with multiple personalities to solve her parents’ murder.

Warner is a former Army paratrooper who dreamed of becoming a writer. In 2023, at a grocery store in Fort Worth, Texas, someone noticed Warner sitting among stacks of his books at a table to promote and sign them. The person posted a video of his interaction with Warner, where Warner explained the premise of the novel. The post went viral, garnering over 25 million views and over 3 million likes. The book then became a number one bestseller on Amazon Books and the story was covered by national media, including on The Today Show.

A sequel is in the works, as well as a separate novel, Homeland Insecurity, about a group of teens getting caught in the crosshairs of an international terrorist.

Leigh Howard is a masterfully written and astutely crafted story that extends seamlessly into a four quadrant franchise for film and TV,” said Peter Luo, founder of Stars Collective. “Our intent is to tell epic stories on screen and help expand this universe alongside Shawn.”

“The phenomenon of this novel is real, and there is palpable passion and affinity underpinning the virality,” added Nancy Xu, co-CEO of Stars Collective. “We’re attracted to strong IP that has universal appeal, and Leigh Howard has proven that it resonates with audiences around the world who would love to see versions played out in a movie or TV series.”

“We are excited to collaborate with Stars Collective to bring Leigh Howard into a media production where audiences can participate in the hijinks and sleuthing of Leigh as she partners with a ghost with multiple personalities to solve the mystery of her parents’ murder,” Warner said.

He added, “Adventure. Excitement. I love them. The first books I remember reading were the courageous and heroic adventures of a horse named Blaze and his youthful owner, Billy, written and illustrated by Clarence William Anderson in the mid-1930s. Hooked, I tried to write adventure stories of my own around the age of six. I’ve amassed my own adventures as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, scuba diver, working as a therapist with youth and wrote stories through software coding before finally sinking into writing later in life.”