The Canada-British co-production team of The Outlander has signed Esta Spalding (Falling Angels) to write the script of what Xingu Film’s’ Alex Francis calls a “western thriller reminiscent of The Searchers set in the Canadian rockies.’’

Set in 1902, “The Outlander has got an epic sweep and a relentless posse,” Francis told Screen. “A widow is hotly pursued through the Rockies by two brothers seeking revenge for the death of their other brother, her late husband.”

The story follows 19-year-old Mary Boulton, half mad and struggling for survival in the wilderness and isolation of turn-of-the-century Canada, relentlessly pursued by her late husband’s brothers who seek revenge for his murder.

U.K.-based Xingu Films, the production company run by Trudie Styler, and Canadian companies Strada Films and Triptych Media acquired the film rights to The Outlander in 2009, and have been searching for a script writer   to bring Canadian newcomer Gil Adamson’s first best-selling novel, an historic adventure and gothic love story, to the screen.

“Esta read the book in its galley version because her stepdad is Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient),” said Strada’s president Sandra Cunningham. “Now she’s ready to write the script.”

Spalding is a Canadian author, screenwriter and poet who won the Pat Lowther Award in 2000 for Lost August. She has worked extensively on Canadian TV series and adapted the novel Falling Angels into a 2003 feature film, which premiered at TIFF, played at Sundance and garnered many awards; she also co-wrote (with Oscar nominee Deepa Mehta) the script adaption of Republic of Love, which Mehta directed.