Deal of the Week: St. Martin’s Snatches Heather Morris’s Next

St. Martin’s chairman Sally Richardson and executive v-p and publisher Jennifer Enderlin snapped up North American and audio rights from Kate Parkin at Bonnier Books in the U.K. for Cilka’s Journey, the sophomore effort from New Zealander Heather Morris, whose current bestseller, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, is published by Harper. Like TattooistCilka’s Journey is based on a true story. It follows Cilka, one of the central figures in Tattooist, who was only 16 when she was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942 and whose beauty both saved her life and condemned her to being the concubine of the camp commandant. Per the publisher, “Morris crafts a powerful story of the triumph of the human spirit in the direst of times.”


Riverhead Pays Six Figures for Sikh Wisdom

Riverhead executive editor Jake Morrisey paid six figures to win at auction More of This Please: Self-Care for the Soul from Sikh Wisdom by religion scholar, activist, and educator Simran Jeet Singh. “Simran offers what I think is a refreshing approach to confronting the darkness that swirls around us—the anger, ignorance, and outrage that assault us everyday,” Morrisey said. Singh is Sikh and was born and raised in Texas. In the book, Morrisey added, he “proposes hopeful and very human ways to overcome the toxicity that is seeping into our lives.” Tanusri Prasanna at Foundry Literary + Media negotiated the deal for North American rights.

NBA Award–Winning Poet Back to TriQuarterly

At TriQuarterly Books, an imprint of Northwestern University Press, editor Parneshia Jones celebrates poetry month with the acquisition of poet Nikky Finney’s Lovechild’s Hot Bed of Occasional Poetry: Poems and Artifacts. The collection is due out in April 2020 and is her first since Head Off & Split won the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. That book went on to sell more than 25,000 copies, which, “for a poetry collection, is pharaonic,” the publisher said. The deal for world rights was unagented.

Ecco Preempts for a Senator

Denise Oswald at Ecco preempted world rights to a memoir by Montana Democratic senator Jon Tester—cowritten with Aaron Murphy, his former chief of staff—from Julie Stevenson of Massie & McQuilkin. Respecting the senator’s wish to keep the amount of the deal confidential, Stevenson confirmed only that it was “a significant deal.” The only farmer in the U.S. Senate, Tester faced fierce competition in the red state, which President Trump visited four times in order to bolster his opponent’s campaign in 2018. He is a frequent guest of Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell on CNBC and Bill Maher on HBO, as well as on Fox News. A fall 2020 publication is planned.

Berkley Buys a Royal Story

In an exclusive submission, Berkley executive editor Kerry Donovan preempted North American and audio rights to former journalist and British bestselling author Wendy Holden’s The Governess—a historical novel about Marion Crawford, the royal governess to Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret when they were children—which, Donovan said, will appeal to devotees of Netflix series The Crown as well as fans of Jennifer Robson’s The Gown. The author was represented by Deborah Schneider at Gelfman Schneider/ICM on behalf of Jonathan Lloyd of Curtis Brown in London. Publication is set for next summer.

Carly Simon Goes to FSG

FSG’s Colin Dickerman picked up North American and audio rights to Touched by the Sun, Carly Simon’s book about her long friendship with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, whom she met at a Martha’s Vineyard summer party. “In the last few years, I found myself doing what I’ve done with all the other things in my life that were too big to look at directly and too important to understand fully as they were happening,” Simon said. “I put it down on paper. Publicly, Jackie was important to all of us, but privately, out of the public eye, I loved her.” Bill Clegg, who has an eponymous agency, brokered the deal.

Artisan Acquires Cookbooks for Summer and Winter

Judy Pray, executive editor at Artisan, paid high five figures for world rights to the next two cookbooks from Marnie Hanel and Jen Stevenson, the team behind The Campout Cookbook and IACP Award–winner The Picnic (coauthored with Andrea Slonecker). The Beach Party Cookbook will be published in early 2021; The Apres Ski Cookbook will come out in summer 2021. Sharon Bowers at Miller Bowers Griffin repped Hanel, and Stacey Glick of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret repped Stevenson.

After a lively auction, Bob Bender at Simon & Schuster prevailed with a mid-six-figures bid to win North American rights to Angus Fletcher’s Shakespeare’s Eureka from Kneerim & Williams’s Carolyn Savarese, who called Fletcher “a modern-day polymath.” Fletcher holds dual degrees in neurobiology and English literature and was a science prodigy who, disillusioned with data, sought a career based in humanistic values, which led him to his current position as a professor of story science at Ohio State’s Project Narrative.

According to the publisher, Shakespeare’s Eureka is an examination of literary masterpieces from antiquity to the present that argues that literary innovation is as significant as scientific innovation, and that reading great literature enhances readers’ emotional and psychological well-being. Foreign rights for the book will be customized. “Fletcher wants to give foreign publishers the opportunity to customize their edition for their country,” Savarese explained. “There will be a core group of chapters, 15 to 20, that overlap with the American edition, but then publishers in the British and translation markets will get to add, swap, mix, and match selections of chapters beyond the core group to incorporate those they feel will resonate in their particular country.”


● In what Deadline described as “spirited bidding,” Amazon Studios won at auction rights to Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (beating Paramount and Warner Bros.), due for publication in May from Griffin. The rom-con is a story of the son of a U.S. president who falls in love with Henry, Prince of Wales.

Gary Shteyngart’s Lake Success was sold to HBO for a limited series, according to Publishers Marketplace. It will star Jake Gyllenhaal, who, along with Riva Marker at Nine Stories, will produce with Endeavor Content. Shteyngart and Tom Spezialy will adapt.


● Last week, we reported that Isabel Allende jumped from Atria to Ballantine for the U.S. publication of A Long Petal of the Sea. This week, The Bookseller reports that in the U.K., she’s moved from Scribner to Bloomsbury, where Alexis Kirschbaum won the U.K. and Commonwealth rights at auction from Peggy Boulos Smith at Writers House, on behalf of Johanna V. Castillo of Writers House and the Carmen Balcells Literary Agency.

● According to Publishers Marketplace, in Kazakhstan, Raisa Kader at Teppe & World bought rights to R.J. Palacio’s Wonder in a deal brokered by Adrienne Santamaria at Trident Media Group on behalf of Alyssa Eisner Henkin.

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