Duty Calls, ‘Duty’ Sells: The Former Secretary of Defense Makes the Rounds
Controversy sells books. In the case of former secretary of defense Robert M. Gates, it sells quite a lot of them. Gates’s Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War handily claims the #1 spot on this week’s Hardcover Nonfiction list, having sold over 80,000 copies its debut week. Gates could easily have coasted on the stir caused by the two-part serial in the Wall Street Journal and his appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes, but he continued to make the rounds, both on TV and radio—showing up on CBS Sunday Morning, the Daily Show, Hannity, Today Show, Charlie Rose, Morning Joe, and NPR’s Morning Edition—and in print, with interviews in the Washington Post and USA Today, as well as a New York Times Book Review front-page review. Paul Bogaards at Knopf said the show rolls on, as “Dr. Gates’s week one events (at the Pentagon, Quantico Marine Base, Norfolk Navy Base) were all [standing room only], with over 1,000 books sold at each. Gates’s tour continues this week, with visits to Texas (and a return to A&M where he was one interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service), Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston, and Lackland Air Force Base.” Moreover, as Bogaards also pointed out, “The demand for books, and access to Gates, remains high. We’ve gone back to press six times and are now up to 365,000 copies in print.”.—Alex Crowley
Bradley Releases His Inner Child in Flavia de Luce Series: A Septuagenarian and His 12-year-old Protagonist
The Dead in their Vaulted Arches, the latest in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mystery series, which received a starred review from PW, debuts at #10 on our Hardcover Fiction list this week. It’s the sixth novel in a series for adult readers featuring a most surprising protagonist who’s no more intriguing than her creator: Flavia de Luce is a precocious 12-year-old girl in 1950s England with a predilection for both chemistry and sleuthing, while Bradley, 76, is a former radio and television engineer from Canada who only started writing for publication after his retirement 20 years ago. While trying to write his first novel in 2006, Bradley told PW in a Q&A published in 2012, a minor character “completely highjacked” his prose. Flavia de Luce, as he subsequently named her, “demanded her own book,” he recalled. “After far too much resistance, I gave it to her.” After writing 15 pages about Flavia, who was 11 at the time, Bradley entered it in the 2007 U.K. Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger fiction competition. He won the contest— and left North America for the first time in his life to accept the award in London. The 15 pages he’d written became the basis for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which was published in 2009, the same year Bradley turned 71.
The series currently has almost a million copies in print and the British Broadcasting Corporation is adapting it for television. As for Bradley, he and his wife have traveled to every country in which his novels have been published. He now lives in Malta, where he is writing the next in what is scheduled to be a 10-volume series.— Claire Kirch
The eccentric, often downright creepy, inhabitants of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a bestseller for Quirk Books since 2011, make a return appearance in Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Children. In the follow-up, Ransom Riggs takes his cast—led by Jacob Portman, whose present-day search for his late grandfather’s childhood residence led him to the group home in book one—to war-torn London in 1940. There they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, who’s trapped in the body of a bird and locked in a cage. As was the first book, Hollow City was inspired by vintage photos that the Los Angeles-based author discovered at antique shops and flea markets and in private collections.
Riggs told PW that though he didn’t know when he wrote Miss Peregrine that he’d have a chance to write a second book, he did leave threads dangling in the first—just in case. “Actually, I left them dangling all over the place,” he said. “And it was great to be able to pick them up and use some of the delicious tidbits I found. I’m probably misquoting Chekhov’s dramatic adage saying if there’s a gun hanging on the wall, you’d better make it fire by the third chapter. I felt like there were a lot of guns still there for me to fire.”
The sequel debuts this week at #1 on our Children’s Fiction list. Riggs is currently writing a third installment; 20th Century Fox has bought film rights to Miss Peregrine, and Jane Goldman, screenwriter of X-Men: First Class, is at work on the screenplay. Riggs said he’s had “some peeks” at the script and has offered occasional advice. Asked if he expects to be invited onto the set after filming begins, he said: “I certainly hope so. I plan to make my presence known—and, of course, bother them a lot!”—Sally Lodge
When GPS Goes Haywire: Brad Taylor’s Latest Plays out the Consequences
The Polaris Protocol by Brad Taylor, his fifth novel featuring Pike Logan, who works for the super-secret government antiterrorism agency known as Taskforce, debuts at #25 on our Hardcover Fiction list this week. Pike and his girlfriend, Jennifer Cahill, who also works for Taskforce, discover a plot to sell a device known as the Polaris Protocol that can disrupt worldwide GPS software. “A great premise, nonstop action, and one of the baddest villains in the genre,” noted the starred PW review, “make this a winner.”
Lieutenant Colonel Taylor (Ret.) is a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army Infantry, including eight years in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta. Media demand for Taylor’s expert opinion, especially when it comes to tactical operations and foreign diplomacy, has grown with each successive bestseller. Taylor has been called to speak on national news stories ranging from the death of Osama bin Laden to the actions of Hezbollah to the recent passing of Tom Clancy. He has appeared on numerous radio and television networks, including Fox, MSNBC, and Al Jazeera America.
When Taylor realized he needed to learn the ins and outs of how the GPS constellation functions for The Polaris Protocol, he reached out to Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado. There he was given a personal tour by the Commander of the 2nd SOPS, something many writers can only dream of.—Peter Cannon