DEAL OF THE WEEK
HC Nabs Book on Epstein Case
In a world rights acquisition, Alessandra Bastagli at Dey Street bought reporter Julie K. Brown’s currently untitled book about the Jeffrey Epstein case. Brown, a reporter for the Miami Herald, wrote an award-winning series of articles on Epstein, a wealthy financier whose decades as a sex offender became a national story earlier this year, resulting in his incarceration and subsequent suicide. The series, titled Perversion of Justice, involved years of reporting and, per Dey Street, “is universally acknowledged as the determining factor in Epstein’s July 2019 arrest on sex trafficking charges.” Dey Street elaborated that the book, which Laurie Liss at Sterling Lord Literistic sold in an exclusive submission, will go deeper into Epstein’s dealings and “expose the inner workings of the sexual pyramid scheme he forced girls into, and will implicate powerful, wealthy, and influential politicians, academics, businessmen, and public figures.”
FROM THE U.S.
‘Race’ Runs to Tor
Lucinda Roy, who’s published two works of literary fiction (Lady Moses and Hotel Alleluia), sold her first work of speculative fiction in a three-book deal. Freedom Race, according to Roy’s agent Jennifer Weltz at JVNLA, features “echoes of The Underground Railroad and The Handmaid’s Tale” and is set in “an alternate future where slavery has returned and one young woman challenges the boundaries of race and redefines what it means to live free.” Jen Gunnels at Tor nabbed world English rights in the agreement, with Freedom Race set for release in 2021. Weltz said the deal is “flexible” but that Freedom Race will launch what’s expected to be, at least, a two-book series.
Trump’s Former Press Sec Speaks at SMP
Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sold world rights to her memoir to St. Martin’s Press. George Witte brokered the deal for the currently untitled book with David Limbaugh, a conservative commentator and author (and brother of conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh); he handled the sale in his capacity as a lawyer. SMP said that in the book, set for fall 2020, Sanders, who is only the third woman to hold the position of White House press secretary, will discuss “subjects including the media, family, faith, and performing an all-consuming and highly visible job while raising her young family.”
Oseman’s Webcomic Headed to Scholastic’s Graphix
At auction, Graphix’s David Saylor and Cassandra Pelham Fulton bought North American rights to four books in Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper series. The series, about two high school boys whose friendship unexpectedly blossoms into romance, originally appeared as a webcomic. After gaining traction, the series was formally published in the U.K. by Hodder Children’s Books. Under this deal, the first two titles are set to be released in 2020. Susannah Palfrey at Hachette Children’s Group (which is the parent of Hodder Children’s) negotiated the agreement with Saylor and Fulton. (Claire Wilson at RCW previously sold world rights to the series to Hodder Children’s.)
Grushin’s ‘Wife’ Goes to Putnam
For Putnam, Gabriella Mongelli took world rights to Olga Grushin’s novel The Charmed Wife. The literary work, which Warren Frazier at John Hawkins & Associates sold, reimagines the fairy tale “Cinderella.” The novel picks up 13 years after Cinderella has married Prince Charming, at which point Cinderella is contemplating divorce. Putnam said the book is “reminiscent of Madeline Miller’s Circe” and is “a darkly complex exploration of romantic expectation and the very nature of storytelling.” Grushin earned a place on Granta’s Best Young American Novelists list for her 2006 debut, The Dream Life of Sukhanov (also published by Putnam).
Lit Agent Sells First Picture Book
Literary agent Stephen Barr sold his debut picture book, at auction, to Chronicle. Taylor Norman bought world rights, in a two-book deal, to The Upside Down Hat. The book, to be illustrated by Gracey Zhang, is set for spring 2022. Chronicle said the book follows a boy who discovers that all of his things are gone save his hat, “which accompanies him on his search for everything else.” Barr was represented by Elena Giovinazzo at Pippin Properties, while Zhang was represented by Hannah Mann at Writers House.
Stegner Fellow Sells Debut to LB
Little, Brown’s Ben George won North American rights to Stephanie Soileau’s debut novel, Terre Bonne, at auction. The two-book deal also includes a Louisiana-set short story collection, Last One out Shut Off the Lights. George described the novel, about the fictional Terrebonne clan, as “an epic, fierce-hearted family saga in the vein of Philipp Meyer’s The Son.” The collection is set to publish first, in summer 2020. Soileau, who was represented by Rebecca Gradinger at Fletcher & Company, is a former Stegner fellow and an Iowa Writers Workshop graduate.
Behind the Deal
History buffs and dedicated listeners of Slow Burn can probably tell you all about Martha Mitchell. The wife of the attorney general under President Nixon, Mitchell is the subject of the first episode of the popular Slate-produced podcast about Watergate. And now, thanks to Slow Burn, a backlist book about her will likely be made into a movie.
Winzola McLendon’s 1979 Martha: The Life of Martha Mitchell has been optioned after interest in Mitchell flared. Stephen Moore at the Kohner Agency handled the sale, working on behalf of Penguin Random House. (Random House originally published the title.) Moore, who is not yet able to disclose the buyer, said that, thanks to the podcast, there was a “sudden flurry of interest in this old book.” Moore added that there were three bidders vying for the title, which is now the foundation of a film project “at one of the big three agencies.”
The serendipitous nature of the deal, Moore joked, got him thinking about going into podcasting; he said he lightheartedly suggested to the agent he sold the project to, “We should produce a podcast about great backlist titles and spur some interest in our list.”
● Daniel Schulman’s 2014 book about the Koch brothers, Sons of Wichita (Grand Central), has been optioned by the production companies Oberservatroy and Cavendish Pictures. According to Deadline, the nonfiction title is set to serve as the basis of “both fiction and nonfiction projects,” with a likely “limited series as well as a documentary” resulting from the acquisition.
● After what Deadline called “a competitive situation,” David Ignatius’s the Quantum Spy series was optioned by the Boies/Schiller Film Group. The books, published by Norton, are set for series development.
● My Friend Natalia by Laura Lindstedt has been acquired by Gallimard. The Finnish novel (which Norton will publish in the U.S.) has now sold in 11 territories. The Elina Ahlback Literary Agency, which handled the sale, called the novel “a thrilling exploration of gender, sexuality, and power following an ambitious therapist and a patient with a unique psychological obsession.”
● Simon & Schuster UK nabbed a book that the publisher called “a filthier, more candid The Devil Wears Prada,” according to the Bookseller. The publisher bought world rights to Sara-Ella Ozbek’s The High Moments; the author, who lives in London, is a former Vogue intern who also worked at a modeling agency.
For more children’s and YA book deals, see our latest Rights Report.