The Oscars are almost upon us, and as you probably know there’s a half-dozen book adaptations competing for Best Picture. If you haven’t already taken part in PW’s first Academy Awards Contest, you still have time to submit your ballot—the prize package includes eight tie-in books, provided by Newmarket Press, It Books, and Harper Design, which includes Harry Potter Page to Screen and Hugo: The Shooting Script, as well as a $100 gift certificate to your local bookstore.
In preparation for the ceremony on Feb. 26, the Tip Sheet decided to check in with each of the authors whose works have been turned into Best Picture-nominated films, to find out what they’re working on now—besides figuring out their Oscar night outfits.
Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Houghton Mifflin
Brooklyn darling Jonathan Safran Foer follows up two novels and a non-fiction examination of food with an unexpected collaboration: he’s just finished editing a new version of the Haggadah, the traditional prayer book read during Passover dinner, translated over the past three years by fiction writer Nathan Englander (What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank). The project was Foer’s idea, which he had been thinking on for years. The New American Hagaddah will be released March 5 from Little, Brown. In a conversation with Englander that ran in the Guardian UK on Jan. 10, Foer claims that Englander did “95% of the work,” but Englander insists that “it’s Jonathan’s vision for the book. I went off and did the translation [but] it’s the little stuff that ends up being giant in something like this.”
Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendents, Random House
Hawaii native Kaui Hart Hemmings is currently working on a novel and accompanying script to follow up to her Hawaii-set debut, The Descendents. She tells PW that her new project will be set in the ski-resort town of Breckenridge, Colo., “which you could say is a kind of paradise, but one I’d like to cast in a new light.” She recently wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal about the importance of setting, comparing her writing techniques to film shots: “In putting setting to work, I like to think about long shots and close-ups. The long shot is the overall view of the place in which the characters live—the island, the town, the wide sweep of place. Then we narrow in. The close-up, the tight focus, makes the place different from anywhere else.”
Michael Lewis, Moneyball, Norton
Lewis released Moneyball, back in December 2003 to widespread acclaim, and his follow-up titles—The Big Short and Boomerang, most recently—have made reliable bestsellers, taking spots in many year-end Best Books lists. Since 2009, Lewis has been a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine, where his most recent article goes deeper into the story of Moneyball with a profile of Nobel Prize-winning Israeli psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who made Billy Beane’s revival of the Oakland A’s possible, Daniel Kahneman (whose own book Thinking Fast and Slow has just made a major splash in the U.S.). As of now, plans for his next eye-opening bestseller are under wraps.
Michael Morpurgo, War Horse, Egmont
A national treasure (and former Children’s Laureate) in the UK, Michael Morpurgo is keeping busy with the third year of his Wicked Young Writers’ Award program, a BBC Radio adaptation of his award-winning novel Private Peaceful, and leading a group of writers to free Cameroonian playwright Lydia Besong, who until late last month was being held by immigration services and due to be deported. He’s also enjoying the success of War Horse on Broadway—making a one-time on-stage appearance last December—and its sequel, Farm Boy, off-Broadway. Oh, and he also has a novel set to be released on March 13 from HarperCollins called Kaspar the Titanic Cat, illustrated by Michael Foreman.
Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Scholastic
Author-illustrator Brian Selznick has recently been discussing the brilliance of Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of his work, especially the way Scorsese yoked his cutting-edge 3D film technology to Selznick’s intricate but emphatically low-tech pencil drawings, which have been “deepened in space, made sculptural and given meaning by the 3D,” as he recently told the Guardian UK. Scholastic released his latest novel, Wonderstruck, to wide acclaim last September, and a Chicago Children’s Theater adaptation of his first novel, The Houdini Box, is running at the Mercury Theater through March 4, with a second run at Skokie’s North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, from March 14-25.
Kathryn Stockett, The Help, Putnam/Amy Einhorn
Atlanta-based Kathryn Stockett is still in demand as a speaker and guest in support of her runaway bestseller, and the paperback edition of her book continues to sit near the top of the bestseller lists—having held its own in the PW paperback bestseller list for a full 45 weeks. In a recent interview with the Vancouver Sun, Stockett reports that she’s currently at work on a novel set in Oxford, Miss., in the 1920s: “I love that era. That was such a time. The skirts were getting shorter and women were smoking, and booze was against the law. It’s things women had to do—even if they were wealthy and grew up strong Christians—and the rules they had to break just to get by.”