Here's some good — make that great — news for fin addicts who snickered at Deep Blue Sea and snored through Open Water: After spending years in development hell, Steve Alten's best-selling shark thriller, MEG.: A Novel of Deep Terror, at last is swimming toward the cineplex!

In fact, New Line is fast-tracking the project, with Twister director Jan de Bont on deck to call the shots, for a July 4, 2006 premiere.

Although casting has yet to begin on the megabucks feature — nicknamed "Jurassic Shark" because of the era from which the toothsome predator is held over — the author already has the utmost faith in the flick's real star. (That would be the shark. Hel-lo!) "Like in the novel, the Megalodon that will be used in the movie will be a ghostly albino, her lack of pigment reflecting her ancestors' existence in the depths of the Mariana Trench," he reveals to "She'll be pretty scarred up and gruesome, with some features that make her unique from her modern-day cousin, the Great White.

"Most of all, she'll be big," he adds. "Very big."

That said, Alten's loyal audience needn't worry that he's abandoned them to go Hollywood. On the contrary, in his latest release, The Loch (in bookstores now), Alten again mixes history and mystery to dazzling effect, tackling not only the myth in which the Loch Ness Monster is shrouded but also the science that promises at last to shine a light on the creature's secret identity. Moreover, he has delivered a bona fide page-turner, perhaps the most engrossing beach read since... well, MEG.

"Could a large predatory animal [like Nessie] exist without being detected all these years? Yes," he suggests, "but it's not a dinosaur, nor is it anything romantic like an ancient marine reptile. It's a cold-blooded, fearsome species, a mutation that prefers the deeper waters, and when it surfaces, it does so for logical, marine-biological reasons. The Loch focuses on that angle, not some hokey legend."

Intriguing, huh? Guess we already know what movie we'll be lining up to see come July 4, 2007.