Deal of the Week: Hathaway Touts ‘Liberation’
Just in time for the London Book Fair, Little, Brown UK scooped up world rights to Liberation, a thriller by Imogen Kealey (a pseudonym for screenwriter Darby Kealey and author Imogen Robertson), that will be adapted into a film based on Kealey’s script, produced by and starring Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway. Sphere will publish it in the U.K.; Grand Central will publish it in the U.S. Due in spring 2020, the novel, based on real events, follows WWII hero Nancy Wake, who trains with the Special Operations Executive in Britain after her husband is captured by the Gestapo. She then parachutes into France to search for him. Hathaway called Nancy Wake “larger than life in every way,” adding, “In a world that is hungry for more inclusive stories, it’s time for Nancy’s to be told.” The deal was negotiated by Broo Doherty at DHH Literary Agency on behalf of Robertson and Rachel Clements at Abner Stein on behalf of CAA for Darby Kealey. Sphere editorial director Ed Wood reports that Italian rights were sold in a high-five-figure-deal preempt six hours after submission.
FROM THE U.S.
Talley Catwalks to Ballantine
André Leon Talley, the former creative director of Vogue, host of his own Sirius Radio program, and the subject of the documentary The Gospel According to André, has penned a second memoir, The Chiffon Trenches. Ballantine executive editor Pamela Cannon picked up North American and open market rights from David Vigliano of AGI Vigliano. Talley continues his story from his 2003 bestseller, ALT: A Memoir, revealing more about his life behind the scenes at Vogue and his early years in fashion.
Centrello Nabs Nosrat’s Next
In a preempt, Random House president Gina Centrello snagged world rights (excluding U.K.) to Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat author Samin Nosrat’s What to Cook,a continuation of her collaboration with artist and New York Times visual columnist Wendy McNaughton. Centrello called the author a visionary and a gifted writer, adding, “We believe strongly in Samin’s philosophy that food is a powerful force for connecting people and bringing them together at the table.” Andy Ward will edit the book, which the publisher said “promises to help readers navigate the unique set of considerations that all cooks face each time they enter the kitchen: time, ingredients, resources, and preferences.” Nosrat said she “wrote Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat to teach readers how to cook,” noting that, next, she wants to “illuminate for home cooks how chefs take stock of their surroundings and resources every time they enter the kitchen.” Nosrat was represented by Kari Stuart at ICM; McNaughton was represented by Charlotte Sheedy,who has her own agency.
Harper Wave Sings for McGraw
Harper Wave v-p and editorial director Julie Will bought world rights to music and film star Tim McGraw’s Grit & Grace from CAA. Will described Grit & Grace as “a celebrity lifestyle book that is a hybrid of the narrative and practical, personal, and prescriptive writing,” in which McGraw chronicles what he called his “physical transformation” from poor health to physical and mental wellness.
Mayhew Scores with Maraniss
Alice Mayhew, v-p and editorial director of Simon & Schuster, signed a deal with ICM’s Rafe Sagalyn for U.K., Canadian, and open market rights for Thorpe, a biography of Jim Thorpe by David Maraniss, the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author of When Pride Still Mattered, a biography of Vince Lombardi. Thorpe was a multitalented sports legend who played professional baseball and was the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal. But he is best known for his gridiron greatness. “There is a direct line from Vince Lombardi to Jim Thorpe,” Maraniss said. “Lombardi was a larger-than-life figure who made pro football the American obsession. Thorpe was central in the foundation myth of the sport itself.”
Ripped Bodice Co-owner Pens “Pop Feminist History”
Bea Koch, co-owner of the Ripped Bodice, a romance bookstore, signed a deal for Real Housewives of the Regency with editor Maddie Caldwell at Grand Central Publishing. Holly Root, who has an eponymous shingle, represented the author. In what the publisher called a “pop feminist history,” Koch highlights iconoclastic women of Regency England—such as Dido Elizabeth Belle, who was born a slave, and Anne Lister, who lived with her common-law wife—to offer new perspectives on the heretofore white, Christian image of the period immortalized by such writers as Jane Austen and Lord Byron.
Behind the Deal
Atria v-p and executive editor Trish Todd won an 11-house auction for Janet Skeslien Charles’s The Paris Library, a novel based on the real librarians of the American Library in Paris and the work they did to preserve the library’s collection during WWII. Heather Jackson, who has an eponymous agency, brokered the deal for U.S., Canada, and open market rights, including audio and first serial. Hodder’s Two Roads imprint will publish the book in the U.K., and rights have sold in six other countries.
The book is scheduled for summer 2020, the bicentennial of the library, the largest English-language library in continental Europe, which has 4,000 members from 60 countries. Among its early members were Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein. Henry Miller and Colette gave readings there, and recent speakers have included Ta-Nehisi Coates, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Jacqueline Woodson.
Set in Montana in 1983 and Paris in 1939, the tale centers on a war widow, Odile Souchet, and Lily, a lonely teenager who is fascinated by the older French woman and longs to know her secrets. The Paris Library, Todd said, “has the most potential of any novel I’ve read in a long time.”
● Charlize Theron will star in an adaptation of Greg Rucka’s comic book series the Old Guard for Netflix. David Hale Smith at InkWell Management and Allison Binder of Stone, Genow, Smelkinson, Binder & Christopher negotiated the deal.
● Berkley editorial director Cindy Hwang snagged, at auction, North American rights to Carole Stivers’s science fiction debut, The Mother Code, already optioned by Steven Spielberg’s studio, Amblin Entertainment. Stivers was repped by Elisabeth Weed at the Book Group.
● Imagine Entertainment’s newly launched Imagine Kids and Family division will develop five titles from several series from the Jimmy Patterson imprint at Little, Brown, according to Variety. Executive producers include Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.
● The Bookseller reports that Vintage imprint Chatto & Windus won a five-way U.K. auction for The Quartet by Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman, a biography of four philosophers, including Iris Murdoch. Clara Farmer and Becky Hardie acquired U.K. and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) from Zoë Waldie at RCW. Executive editor Kris Puopolo acquired North American rights from Melanie Jackson, on behalf of Waldie, for Doubleday.
For more children’s and YA book deals, see our latest Rights Report.
Liz Hartman will be writing the Deals column while regular columnist Rachel Deahl is on maternity leave. To submit deals for the column, email email@example.com.
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Darby Kealey's name.