Deal of the Week: Seven Figures for a “ ‘Lolita’ Story” at Morrow

In a seven-figure preempt, Jessica Williams at William Morrow bought North American rights to Kate Russell’s debut, My Dark Vanessa. The novel, which has sold in 22 other countries to date, is, Morrow said, “a Lolita story for the #MeToo era.” Narrated by a woman who, at 15, has an affair with her middle-aged English teacher, the work alternates between the past affair and present day. It juxtaposes, Morrow elaborated, “memory, trauma, and the aftermath of abuse with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl understanding for the first time the power her body can wield.” The HC imprint compared the novel, set for 2020, to works such as Emma Cline’s The Girls. Russell, who was represented by Hillary Jacobson at ICM Partners, has an MFA from Indiana University.


Viking Unveils New le Carré
Bestselling espionage scribe John le Carré sold a new book, Agent Running in the Field, to Viking, slated for October 2019. Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown sold U.S. rights to Kathryn Court. Agent, which is set in contemporary London, is the author’s 25th novel; it’s about, Viking said, a 26-year-old “solitary figure who, in a desperate attempt to resist the new political turbulence swirling around him, makes connections that will take him down a very dangerous path.” Le Carré’s previous novel, 2017’s Legacy of Spies, was, per Viking, a #1 bestseller around the world.

Dial Lays Down for ‘Unicorn’
In a rumored six-figure deal, Dial’s Ellen Cormier took world rights, at auction, to author-illustrator Jessika von Innerebner’s debut picture book, Kevin the Unicorn: It’s Not All Rainbows. Kelly Sonnack at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency sold world rights (excluding Canadian English and North American French) to the book, which, she said, follows “a unicorn who discovers that life isn’t always perfect—and that’s okay.” The deal included a second, currently untitled picture book.

Garber’s “Wolves” Run to Wednesday
For six figures, Eileen Rothschild at St. Martin’s Press’s Wednesday Books took North American rights, in a preempt, to Romina Garber’s Wolves of No World. The YA novel was sold as part of a two-book deal by Laura Rennert at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. According to the publisher, Wolves is inspired by mythology from the author’s native Argentina, and, the publisher continued, “shows the immigrant identity and what it means to be ‘illegal.’” The book is set for spring/summer 2020.

Overlook Takes to Leunens’s “Skies”
In its first fiction buy since being acquired by Abrams, Overlook Press nabbed Christine Leunens’s Caging Skies. Tracy Carns took world English rights (excluding New Zealand) to the novel, which she called “a darkly comic satire about war,” from agent Laura Susijn. A film based on the book is set to be released by Fox Searchlight in 2019. Caging Skies, set in Vienna circa WWII, follows a young man who discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house.

Crooked Lane Goes YA
Indie crime publisher Crooked Lane Books made its first YA acquisition with the world rights purchase of Lily Sparks’s debut, Teen Killers Club. The thriller, sold by Stacia Decker at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner to Matt Martz, follows a 17-year-old who’s wrongly convicted of murdering her best friend. The teen then joins, Decker explained, a program in which “18-and-under killers are trained as government assassins at an abandoned sleepaway camp.” Sparks is a TV writer who’s worked on shows such as the CW’s Reign.

Milano Delivers “Hope” to Scholastic
Actress-turned-activist Alyssa Milano sold her debut children’s book series, Hope, to Scholastic. The series follows 11-year-old Hope Roberts, who, the publisher said, “seeks to create social change in her community.” The series will be illustrated by Eric S. Keyes, and book one is slated for October 2019. Milano was represented in the deal by CAA, which handled the world English rights agreement.

Arendt Bio to Penguin
With a North American rights preempt, Penguin Press’s Will Heyward won a biography of Hannah Arendt by Thomas Meyer. The author is a philosophy professor in Germany and, per Penguin, one of the foremost authorities on his subject. Markus Hoffmann at Regal Hoffmann & Associates and Andrea Vogel at the Michael Gaeb Literary Agency brokered the deal on behalf of Piper Verlag; Hoffmann added that the German publisher won world rights to the book “in a significant deal after an eight-way auction.” The book is tentatively titled Hannah Arendt and has sold in, among other countries, Brazil, France, and Italy.


  • U.K.-based indie publisher Scribe acquired two novels by 24-year-old New Zealand author Annaleese Jochem, including her native bestseller Baby (first published by Victoria University Press in 2017). Dramatic rights to Baby have also been nabbed by U.K. production company Wild Card Films (In Darkness). Included in the deal is the author’s currently untitled sophomore novel. [The Bookseller]

  • After a six-bidder auction, U.K. publisher France’s Éditions Saint-Simon is the latest house to acquire Timo Honkela’s The Peace Machine (originally published in Finland in 2017 by Gaudeamus). The Elina Ahlback Agency is handling rights to the book, which is subtitled Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for World Peace.


  • Netflix has ordered an eight-episode series adaptation of Charles Forsman’s self-published comic I Am Not Okay with This. Director Jonathan Entwhistle (The End of the F***king World) is working on the project with director–executive producer Shawn Levy (Stranger Things). [Deadline]

  • Samanta Schweblin’s Spanish-language novel Distancia de Rescate has been optioned for feature adaptation by Netflix. Peruvian filmmaker Claudia Llosa (Aloft) has been tapped to direct, while Schweblin is set to cowrite the script with Llosa. [Hollywood Reporter]

For more children’s and YA book deals, see our latest Rights Report.