A literary French novel and, just possibly, a new E.L. James, were headlining conversations at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.
The book that might soon earn the tagline the ‘Canadian Fifty Shades of Grey’ is called S.E.C.R.E.T., written (pseudonomously, of course) by a Canadian TV producer and bestselling novelist going by the name L.M. Adeline. Molly Stern and Alexis Washam at Crown preempted U.S. rights in a two-book deal for Crown’s Broadway imprint. The title is the first in a series and the story follows a grieving New Orleans widow who discovers a secret society that, as the publisher explains, aims to help women "liberate their sexual selves." The first book is set for a 2013 release in the States and Canada (where Doubleday Canada will be publishing).
Agent Christy Fletcher, at Fletcher & Co., who represents the author, said the allusions to Fifty Shades are expected, but noted that S.E.C.R.E.T. is not a Fifty Shades knock off. "The E.L. James comparisons are obvious on the one hand, so they don't surprise me," Fletcher told PW, via e-mail. "But what drew me [to the work] is the quality of the writing--the prose but also the plotting." Fletcher said the author was, in part, "inspired by Fifty Shades to challenge herself to write something that has a great story, is super sexy, but empowering to women." Rumor also has it that there is strong interest in the film community, from HBO among others. Howie Sanders at UTA is handling the dramatic rights in the U.S.
English-speaking authors weren’t the only ones the Americans were tracking in Frankfurt, either. Unexpectedly, a lauded French novel by Joel Dicker called La Verite Sur L’Affaire Harry Quebert—among other literary award nods, it was longlisted for France’s Prix Goncourt—continued to crop up in conversations. The novel is set in New York in 2008 and follows an author struggling to finish his novel, which is due to his publisher in mere months. As the author tries to overcome his writer’s block, his life is turned askew when a beloved former professor (the Harry Quebert of the title) is accused of a decades-old murder. No word yet on U.S. offers, but we hear bids have come in from a number of countries, including the U.K., Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.
While news of a new J.R.R. Toklien book, The Fall of Arthur, was expectedly a topic of conversation, some were even more interested in the new Eric Schlosser book, Command and Control, in part because it is being kept under heavy lock and key. The book, which is about the threat nuclear weapons pose, is only able to be read by those who are signing non-disclosure agreements. Penguin Press is publishing in the U.S.—Ann Godoff unveiled the book’s title at the fair—and the work seems positioned to do for nuclear weapons what Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation did for fast food; Penguin said the book “offers a gripping, minute-by-minute account of a terrifying nuclear weapon accident in the American heartland and explores the inner workings of the most dangerous technology ever invented. “ Agent Tina Bennett at William Morris Endeavor is handling foreign sales.