In one of the notable pre-Frankfurt deals, buzzed-about debut novel Shotgun Lovesongs has sold to Katie Gilligan at St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne, who bought U.S. and Canadian rights for high six-figures, beating out seven other bidders. Rob McQuilkin at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin represented author Nickolas Butler.
The book follows the friendship between four men in their early thirties who live near one another in the same Wisconsin town where they grew up. Some in the quartet have left their birth state while others have not, and they are, as the pitch noted, "just now coming into their own (or not) as husbands and fathers" with each hoping to finally find "real purchase in the world."
One talked-about aspect of the novel is the fact that Butler attended the same high school as musician and Bon Iver frontman, Justin Vernon. Vernon famously recorded his debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, DIY-style, in a remote cabin in Wisconsin, then released it on his own. The indie folk work went on to unexpectedly capture a mass audience and, in 2012, the band won the Grammy for Best New Artist.
The title of the novel refers to the breakout album by one of the friends, Leland Sutton, who records it in a former chicken coop in a town called Little Wing. Speaking to the Bon Iver association, McQuilkin said: "No question that Justin Vernon—who did indeed go to the same high school as the author a decade or two ago, and consequently casts a big, long shadow over that part of Wisconsin and, well, the north Midwest in general—served as the starting inspiration for Leland's character, but the gap between fiction and reality is wide, with as many differences between the two as similiarities."
Butler is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop and his short fiction has appeared in, among other places, Ploughshares and The Kenyon Review. Shari Smiley at The Smiley Group is representing the book for film.