Perhaps “become a screenwriter” was on Cormac McCarthy’s bucket list? 

Mike Fleming of reported that the 78-year-old novelist, whose books The Road and No Country for Old Men were both made into widely acclaimed films, recently surprised his agents by delivering a full-length original screenplay instead of a new book. 

It’s called The Counselor, and, writes Fleming, is “contemporary, and set in the Southwest,” with the title character getting sucked into the drug business (a venture that, needless to say, does not go well).

Producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz, who made The Road, acquired it almost immediately with a preemptive bid. James White at the British movie magazine and website Empire noted, “Directors are going to come running to take this one on.”

Steve Schwartz told Deadline‘s Fleming:

Since McCarthy himself wrote the script, we get his own muscular prose directly, with its sexual obsessions. It’s a masculine world into which, unusually, two women intrude to play leading roles. McCarthy’s wit and humor in the dialogue make the nightmare even scarier. This may be one of McCarthy’s most disturbing and powerful works.

“Considering the violent stories and unsettling concepts tackled in previous McCarthy works,” opined Sandy Schaefer of Screen Rant, “that REALLY IS saying something.” And Mike Lee of Fused Film said that it’s intriguing that two female characters are at the movie’s center. 

While some news reports have said that this is McCarthy’s first work for the screen, Randy Kennedy of the New York Times pointed out that McCarthy wrote a script in 1976 that was made into a TV movie, The Gardener’s Son. He also adapted his book The Sunset Limited for HBO and director Tommy Lee Jones.  

The notoriously private author is a longtime El Pasoan who, according to the Cormac McCarthy Society, now makes his home in Santa Fe. Last year Texas Monthly selected the Coen Brothers’ adaptation of No Country For Old Men as one of the “Ten Greatest Texas Movies Ever” (and even named the story after it).