'Summer Rental' Harkens Returns to '90s Slashers and 'Mean Girls'

‘Summer Rental’ Harkens Returns to ’90s Slashers and ‘Mean Girls’

For author Rektok Ross, her latest novel was a chance to play into the slasher genre, infusing it with some painful experiences growing up.

Summer rental it is described as Bad Girls meet He shoutedand centers on a group of recent graduates who rent a house on an island for a weekend and find themselves stranded, trapped on the island with a serial killer on the loose.

The novel, released in June, was partially informed by an experience Ross had as a girl when she was bullied by a former group of friends, and then saw her stepdaughters deal with similar situations.

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“I’ve always wanted to write some sort of slasher homage, but with something else going on at the same time in my personal life,” says Ross, who grew up loving 80s and 90s slasher like He shouted, I know what you did last summer AND Nightmare on Elm Street. “We talk about bullying, but I don’t think we talk as much about friends turning on each other.”

Ross, whose given name is Liani Kotcher, began her professional career as an intellectual property attorney and began writing, eventually cutting back on her hours at her Florida law firm as she completed her 2021 novel Ski weekend.

Ski weekend it was also her entry into Hollywood. The book, about six teenagers trapped in a blizzard and what they’ll do to survive, is currently in development as a feature film by Saw producer Oren Koules and son Miles Koules. She wrote the screenplay and is the executive producer of the project.

She notes with a laugh that the two were initially unsure if she should adapt the script (is it wise to give a novice author the script keys?), but after some convincing, they agreed and she drew up a first draft in two weeks. “I didn’t leave my room,” Ross says of that writing marathon.

Prior to the writers’ strike, the team was trying to secure a more experienced screenwriter to join them on their journey, and they plan to resume script development once the strike ends.

For Ross, writing books that can be translated into films is a goal, and while screenwriters can consult with managers about what’s selling in the market and cater to their specific scripts accordingly, Ross consults his editor, Amy Tipton, who helps recommend trends in the book space to help inform what Ross puts his energy into.

When it arrived Summer rentalRoss had a particular point of pride after his editor read a first draft, as Tipton reads a lot of thrillers.

Ross recalls that first draft: “He said, ‘I didn’t know if you could write a whodunit that I wouldn’t be able to guess. But I couldn’t guess the killer. He still needs a lot of work, but I couldn’t guess the killer.’”