Fairfield writer's book adapted for streaming CBS series

When Alena Dillon’s agent sent an advance copy of her debut novel “Mercy House” to comedian and activist Amy Schumer, the Fairfield native never predicted what would happen next.

Mercy House,” which was published in February by William Morrow, is set to be adapted into a series by CBS All Access, the CBS network’s streaming platform with Schumer acting as an executive producer.

Dillon noted that the potential series adaptation came up while she was working on her publishing deal.

“It was my lifelong dream coming to fruition alongside a dream I never dared hope for, but was so desperately, deliriously happy about. It was a crazy summer, and I was newly pregnant,” she said. “There were a lot of frenzied, celebratory phone calls and texts between family and friends who had been rooting for me for a decade. As my grandfather put it, ‘You could go outside in a rainstorm right now and not get wet.’”

Schumer called “Mercy House” a “life-altering debut featuring fierce, funny and irreverent women who battle the most powerful institution in the world.” She also said that Dillon’s book about renegade nuns “is the book we’ve all been waiting for.”

Sister Evelyn is a renegade nun who puts the needs of her charges before herself and at times the doctrines of the Catholic church in order to help them heal from their past traumas. Sister Evelyn, along with two other nuns, Sisters Josephine and Maria of the order of the St. Joseph Sisters of Mercy run a women’s shelter in Brooklyn, where they willingly give up their own beds to help the women who need them. The nuns are happily operating their facility until a bishop from Sister Evelyn’s past comes to investigate the order as part of the Apostolic Visitation or nunquisition in 2010.

Dillon said “it was a dream” when Schumer reached out to Dillon after reading her book to discuss it in more detail. “She’s been so supportive and so generous with her enthusiasm,” Dillon said. “It was the ultimate validation. I was a big fan of hers already, and had actually just finished reading her memoir when I heard she wanted to discuss my novel. I thought, 'If someone so brilliant and influential as Amy Schumer is interested in my book, maybe we have something pretty special here.' After we finished our initial phone call, I started laughing hysterically, which evolved into tears. It was just so surreal.”

“The Good Wife” writer and producer Corrinne Brinkerhoff will work with Schumer on the series as a writer and executive producer; the series itself is in the very early stages of development. Dillon said that she won’t be writing the scripts with Brinkerhoff, but she is consulting on the scripts.

“For the most part, the television show will be in the very capable hands of our screenwriter and producers, but I'll be able to consult on each script, which I'm really excited about. It'll be fun to get a peek into the workings of a different genre, and a challenge to reimagine the story in a new format.”

When asked if she had a dream cast in mind for her characters, Dillon said there are far too many talented actresses for her to choose from.

“I don't have anything in mind, but I can't wait to see how it turns out,” she said.

While Hollywood adapts Dillon’s book, she will continue to work on her second novel, “The Happiest Girl in the World,” which is scheduled to come out in April 2021. The book will focus on the sacrifices a gymnast makes in the hopes of achieving her Olympic goals. The book will focus on the sacrifices a gymnast makes in the hopes of achieving her Olympic goals. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dillon’s scheduled March book tour stop in Fairfield was cancelled, however fans can visit her virtual events by visiting her website, alenadillon.com.