Dolan Lands Freediving Book in Major Buy
Eamon Dolan, for his eponymous imprint at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, bought one of the most sought-after books of the week in a major six-figure acquisition. Dolan nabbed world rights to James Nestor’s nonfiction book, Deep: A Sea Odyssey. Although HMH would not comment on the advance, it’s rumored that the book sold for roughly $500,000. Agent Danielle Svetcov at the Levine Greenberg Agency brokered the deal for Nestor, a journalist whose first book, Get High Now, an illustrated compendium of chemical-free ways to alter human perception, was published by Chronicle in 2009. Nestor’s written for a number of publications, including the New York Times and Dwell, and in the upcoming March issue of Outside has a piece about the freediving world championships, a story, Dolan said, “was the seed of the book” and will likely serve as its first chapter. But Deep, Dolan noted, while it will explore the extreme sport of freediving (in which divers descend hundreds of feet into the ocean without relying on the use of an oxygen tank), will also look at the larger subject of deep sea exploration. HMH said the book is a “science-meets-adventure” work that offers a “chapter by chapter descent to the bottom of the ocean, in which a clan of extreme scientists, athletes, and pioneers discover weird, wondrous new life forms and human abilities in Earth’s last frontier.” Deep is slated for a spring 2014 publication.

S&S Lets Out the ‘Demons’ for Pyper
In another major acqui­sition, Sarah Knight at Simon & Schuster pre-empted North American rights to Andrew Py­per’s The Demonologist in a six-figure deal. The acquisition came on the heels of Universal optioning the manuscript with Robert Ze­meckis’s production com­pany attached. Pyper has written five books; his debut was the 2000 bestseller The Lost Girls (Delacorte). S&S said the new novel combines “the supernatural quest of Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian with the literary homage of Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle.” In the novel, a Columbia professor and demonology expert named David Ullman becomes obsessed with saving his daughter from the underworld after she commits suicide, apparently as the result of a demonic possession. Using Milton’s Paradise Lost as his guide, Ullman, a classic nonbeliever, attempts to rescue his child from the satanic force that possessed her and bring her back from “the other side.” Pyper is Canadian, and the film deal was done by Howie Sanders at UTA, in conjunction with Pyper’s literary agent, Anne McDermid, of the Toronto-based Anne McDermid & Associates. Orion bought the book in the U.K. and plans on publishing in October 2012, while S&S will follow with its release in early 2013. Agent Stephanie Cabot at Gernert handled the North American rights deal on behalf of McDermid. Sally Riley at Aitken Alexander in the U.K. is handling foreign rights.

Fallon Goes ‘Psycho’ for Current
Brooke Carey, at Penguin’s Current im­print, took world rights to neuroscientist James H. Fallon’s memoir, The Psycho­path Inside Me. Agent Jane Dystel, at Dystel & Goderich, brokered the deal for Fallon. In the book Fallon, who was conducting research about the evidence that the brain scans of deadly killers share similar patterns, recounts his unpleasant discovery that his own scans mimic those of his subjects. The agency said the book is “the story of a brain scientist with a passing interest in serial killers that takes a wild turn into a disturbing self-discovery.”

Kate Sullivan, at the indie sf/fantasy house Candlemark & Gleam, took world English rights to David McLain’s Dragonbait, a YA fantasy novel with illustrations by Felix Eddy. McLain and Eddy did not use an agent in the deal; C&G is planning for an autumn 2012 release. The novel follows a princess who leaves her farm and confronts a knight and a dragon.

Ben Schafer at Da Capo took U.S. rights to Howard Sounes’s currently untitled book about the so-called ‘27 Club.’ Kate Lee at ICM brokered the deal for Gordon Wise at Curtis Brown UK, and Da Capo’s planning a fall 2013 publication. Sounes, who’s written biographies of Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan, will explore the stories of the six major rock legends who died at the age of 27: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain and, the most recent addition to the list, Amy Winehouse.