Baldacci Hits It Out: The return of Will Robie
David Baldacci’s The Hit, his second thriller to feature U.S. government assassin Will Robie, debuts at #1 on the Hardcover Fiction list. Robie may be the master of killing, but he meets his match in fellow assassin Jessica Reel. Every bit as lethal as Robie, Reel has gone rogue, turning her gun sights on other members of their agency. Robie must bring in Reel, dead or alive, but he soon finds that there’s more to her betrayal than meets the eye. The Innocent, the previous Will Robie novel, spent nearly four months on the New York Times bestseller list.
Baldacci’s first novel, Absolute Power, was adapted into a film starring Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman. His novels have been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries, with more than 110 million copies in print worldwide and more than three million e-books sold.
TNT has ordered a 10-episode television series based on Baldacci’s King and Maxwell novels. Executive produced by Shane Brennan (NCIS) and Grand Anderson (Third Watch), the series stars Jon Tenney (The Closer) and Rebecca Romijn (X-Men) and will premiere this June. Baldacci is a consultant on the series.
Baldacci and his wife founded the Wish You Well Foundation (www.WishYouWellFoundation.org) to support adult and family literacy in the United States. The organization fosters and promotes the development and expansion of literacy and educational programs. —Peter Cannon
He Talks Funny: Cribbing from his diaries, Sedaris nails it again
David Sedaris, the contemporary king of the comedic personal essay, conquers this week’s Hardcover Nonfiction list with his ninth book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, selling over 28,000 copies in its first week. As usual, family members make humorous cameos and there are many strange encounters with wild animals, both large and small. Sedaris got his start when he was “discovered” by Ira Glass of This American Life—Sedaris would read deadpan, hilarious diary excerpts. In Let’s Explore, he ruminates on the evolution of his diary over the past 35 years. In addition to his usual essays, the sometime playwright (who usually collaborates with his sister, Amy) offers six satirical monologues, which he notes are “the pieces in which I am a woman, a father, and a sixteen-year-old girl with a fake British accent.” He’s currently touring the West Coast and will be making selected public appearances this fall. —Alex Crowley
When director, producer, and screenwriter Chris Columbus had the idea that became House of Secrets, he admits it didn’t begin as a novel. “It started out as a screenplay,” he said. “I wrote 90 pages and then realized it was going to cost $500 million to turn it into a movie, so I put it in a drawer and forgot about it.” Eventually he pulled it out and decided to work with a co-writer, and his agent put him in touch with YA author Ned Vizzini. “I really responded to Ned’s writing,” Columbus told PW. “I loved his voice and his strong ear for teenage dialogue, and thought he really connected to the emotions of adolescence. I gave him the 90 pages I’d written and asked him to tell me what he thought, and if he thought we could work together. A week later, he e-mailed me a roughed-out first chapter of the novel, and I liked it very much.” Columbus edited that first chapter and returned it, launching what Vizzini describes as a process of e-mailing chapters back and forth, with each making changes. “It was a true collaboration from the start,” Vizzini said.
The duo—currently collaborating on the second, still-untitled installment of their series, due in spring 2014—began writing a screenplay for a film adaptation of House of Secrets, but decided to stop. “We wanted the novel to live on its own,” Columbus said. “The great thing about the Harry Potter novels and certain other books is that they weren’t made into movies immediately, so kids had a chance to discover them as books. If books feel like they should be movies, then they should be made. If not, leave them as books. I’m happy with that.”—Sally Lodge
Mother Knew Best: Hannah’s world, with Kate and Tully
“But you’re going to be a writer,” said Kristin Hannah’s determined mother, to her daughter who was in her third and final year of law school. Mom at that time was in the hospital, facing the end of a long battle with cancer. According to Hannah, “I was shocked to discover that she believed I would become a writer. For the next few months, we collaborated on the worst, most clichéd historical romance ever written.” After her mother’s death, Hannah collected the papers the pair had accumulated and stashed them in a closet. Marriage ensued, a difficult pregnancy followed, and after five months of bed rest, a stir-crazy mom-in-waiting decided to resurrect the remnants of her long-neglected writing attempt. As Hannah says, “By the time my son was born, I’d finished a first draft and found an obsession. In 1990, I got ‘the call,’ and in that moment, I went from a young mother with a cooler-than-average hobby to a professional writer, and I’ve never looked back.”
Nor was she impelled to—Hannah’s first book, A Handful of Heaven, was published in 1995 (a mass market historical set in Alaska); her latest, Fly Away, which snags the #3 spot on this week’s Hardcover Fiction List, marks book #20. In it, Hannah returns to her much-loved world of Kate and Tully, two best friends who met as teenagers in Firefly Lane, her 2008 breakout bestseller that traced the trials the pair go through as they reached adulthood. Fly Away picks up after Kate’s death from breast cancer and recounts the way in which Tully and Kate’s family deal with the loss. (According to Nielsen BookScan, Firefly Lane has sold more than 700,000 copies.)
Hannah on a coast-to-coast media and bookstore tour, and she recently guested on Good Day New York, Better TV, and Live from the Couch. She also appeared at Book Revue in Huntington, N.Y., and Caldwell, N.J.’s Green Brook Country Club Book Club, which hosted more than 300 readers for a lunch and author discussion. Other readings and signings have included Books & Books in Coral Gables, Fla.; Poisoned Pen, in Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Vroman’s in L.A.—Dick Donahue