HarperCollins executive editor David Hirshey told PW he has at last found a use for all the soccer he used to play at school. He has become the editor of record in the sudden new passion for women's soccer, having already published MiaHamm's Go for the Goal, which is selling strongly, even though the author hasn't been able to promote it. Now Hirshey has signed what he described as a "serious literary look" at the phenomenon, The Girls of Summer by award-winning New York Times sportswriter Jere Longman. The book, which Hirshey said will be a thoughtful examination of women's soccer”including such issues as the almost entirely white, middle-class makeup of the teams”was a six-figure pre-empt by agent Elyse Cheney at Sanford Greenburger Associates. Hirshey plans to have it ready by next summer, in time for the Olympics, at which the U.S. women's team will be competing.


We thought we'd heard the last of exotic animal subjects, but a book just sold to Heather Jackson at St. Martin's by Jeff Kleinman at D.C.'s Graybill & English takes the dog biscuit. It appears that Kleinman heard a man talking on NPR about how he massages walruses for a living, and if ever there was a subject untreated, this was it. Kleinman pursued, and found that Anthony Guglielmo is one of the very few massage therapists in the world whose clientele is largely non-speaking. He actually works on a wide variety of creatures, both exotic and domestic, from his New York base, and, according to Jackson, one of his next patients may be an orca whale (where would you start?) Kleinman conducted a spirited two-day auction when the proposal came in, and Jackson was the pleased winner, for a six-figure sum for world rights. She hopes to publish the book, which will be co-written with Carri Lynn, in fall 2000, and already, she said, the media are beating a path to her door clamoring for author appearances”with patients, of course.


The indefatigable Malachy McCourt d sn't aim to be outdone by brother Frank in the sequels department, and is taking his second book to HarperCollins, where Jane Friedman and Cathy Hemming stumped up what agent David Chalfant at IMG Literary described as a "mid six figures"; the book will be edited by senior editor Mauro Di Preta. According to Chalfant, McCourt "identified his demons" in A Monk Swimming, published with considerable success by Hyperion last year. In the new work, to be called Singing His Him Song, McCourt will confront those same demons and describe how his life has assumed a more orderly form”it's even, said Chalfant, "a little inspirational." The book also sold for six figures to Picador in Australia. We also hear that yet another McCourt brother, Alfie (there are four of them), has a book making the rounds, but no details yet.


An Updike musical? That's the unusual prospect for JohnUpdike's The Witches of Eastwick, which was a Warner movie with Jack Nicholson and Cher. Now producer Cameron Mackintosh is planning to launch it as a musical in London next spring. Book and music will be by John Dempsey and Dana Rowe; the author was represented in the deal by his West Coast agent, Ken Sherman.... A deal has been made with SpikeLee's 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks for an HBO series based on a book, 23 Shades of Black, originally self-published by author K.J.A. Wishnia (and eventually, after an Edgar nomination, by Dutton/ Signet). The series will center on a Latina detective in New York, and the deal was put together by Steve Fisher of APA on the Coast, with Wishnia's agent Nancy Yost of Barbara Lowenstein Associates.... No dearth of first novel sales at the Elaine Markson agency, where Sally Wofford-Girand has sold three of them handily in the past month or so: Cry of Angels by Claire Davis, after an auction, to George Witte at Picador; Mulberry Tree by Zelda Lockhart to Rachel Klabuer-Speiden at Holt; and The MaskCarver's Son by Alyson Richman, pre-empted by Karen Rinaldi at Bloomsbury USA.