Rebecca Serle’s debut novel hasn’t even been published, yet Hollywood’s so convinced by its cinematic merit that they’ve already hired a director in Michael Sucsy (Grey Gardens) for the adaptation and have begin discussions with Keira Knightley for the lead role. How’s that for a vote of confidence in Serle’s material?

The story eyes William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Romeo & Juliet through the viewpoint of Rosaline, the fair maiden Romeo adored right before he spotted Juliet. What a male slut. Serle’s novel, which streets next May, changed its name from Rosaline to When You Were Mine, and plans for a feature-film adaptation continue to roll at Fox 2000 Pictures.

Vulture, which broke the Knightley news, says that talks with the Oscar nominee to play Rosaline “are nascent,” and adds that Snow White starlet Lily Collins also is being considered for the part. The piece also confirms that the eventual screenplay by Scott Neustader and Michael H. Weber (500 Days of Summer) will be set in the time of Romeo and Juliet but will use modern language. Do table those “doth” and “where for art” quotes, Shakespeare fans.

Serle, meanwhile, told Vulture that she always kind of pictured Roswell actress Shiri Appleby in her mind when writing Rosaline. (Of course, Knightley’s far more marketable a star.) And the article emphasized the fact that producers are so hot to get this story into theaters that it’s totally possible a film based on Serle’s novel could be in theaters weeks or months before the book even reaches stores. Can you think of an example of a film adaptation beating the novel on which it’s based into the marketplace? Because as far as I know, this would be the first.

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