Since Steve Alten reacquired the rights to his engrossing bestseller Meg, about a prehistoric predator that makes Jaws' Great White look like a guppy, showbiz sharks have been circling. However, it's not only the scribe's screenplay adaptation that's sparked the feeding frenzy. It's also the fact that his book and its follow-up, The Trench, have made "finatics" of the hard-to-hook adolescent demographic.

"For a while, nothing was happening," the author tells TV Guide Online. "But recently, some developments have been spurred on because it seems that teens love Meg — so much so that high school teachers were using the book as part of their curriculum. I didn't know this until English teachers started e-mailing me that the book was a huge hit in their classes.

"So, essentially, we have a growing army of kids who are wanting to see a movie [adaptation]. I wasn't aiming to do that, but it just worked out," he continues, amazed. "Now, slowly but surely, Hollywood studios have gotten wind of that, and it's generated a real interest."

Until the project is greenlit, Alten is keeping busy baiting his Gen-XY groupies with a summer '04 release date for Primal Waters, his third title starring the Carcharodon megalodon, and daydreaming about casting Kurt Russell as his series' hero, deep-sea adventurer Jonas Taylor. (Jaws 3-D survivor Dennis Quaid's our pick, but why quibble?) Plus, Alten has found a way to thank the young audience that has reeled in so many producers.

"I always try to give back to the community," says the scholar, who holds a doctorate in education, "and this [situation presented] a perfect opportunity to do so. So I set up a nonprofit organization called Adopt-An-Author, which is for teachers who utilize my novels in the classroom. They receive free curriculum material, posters, [access to an] interactive website and, best of all, contact between the students and the author via e-mail and conference calls.

"If it's a close school," adds the Florida resident, "I'll visit as well. But the important part is that the books are getting even reluctant readers to read. The required reading list today is the same as it was when I was in school 25 years ago, and it's just not interesting to students. But if you give them something with lots of action, they'll actually enjoy it. And Meg definitely has plenty of action!"For more on the author, visit www.stevealten.com. To learn about the Adopt-An-Author program, stop by www.adoptanauthor.com. And — what the heck? — tell Alten that TV Guide Online sent you!