Paolini’s ‘Sleep’ to Tor for Seven Figures

Franchise bestseller Christopher Paolini (the Inheritance Cycle series) sold a new novel to Tor in a seven-figure deal. Tor v-p and publisher Devi Pillai acquired To Sleep in a Sea of Stars in a world rights agreement brokered with Simon Lipskar at Writers House. Calling the novel “a departure” for Paolini, Tor said Sleep is “a story of enormous intergalactic weight and consequence, but also of deeply personal human strength, compassion, and awe.” The novel, which will be edited by Pillai and executive editorWilliam Hinton, follows a xenobiliologist who discovers “an alien relic” during “a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet.” The discovery, Tor went on, “thrusts her into the wonders and nightmares of first contact.” Sleep is slated for publication on Sept. 15, 2020.


True Crime Podcasters Land at Dey Street
In a six-figure deal, the creators of the true crime podcast Up and Vanished signed a two-book deal with Dey Street Books. The podcast, created by Payne Lindsey and Donald Albright, explores missing-persons cold cases and is part of a suite of podcasts produced under the pair’s Tenderfoot TV banner. Dey Street said the five podcasts produced by Tenderfoot have, together, garnered over 450 million downloads. The deal with Dey Street will see the authors launch a planned series of books that delves into missing persons cases not explored on the show. Carrie Thornton inked the world rights agreement with Pilar Queen at UTA.

Pulitzer Winner Takes on NAACP Leader

For Simon & Schuster, Bob Bender took world English rights to David W. Blight’s biography of NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson. Blight, who won this year’s Pulitzer Prize in history for Frederick Douglas (also published by S&S), was represented in the deal by Wendy Strothman at the Strothman Agency. The agency called Johnson a “Jim Crow–era artist, intellectual, and activist” who Blight reveals as “a Renaissance man in the era of segregation.” Elaborating, the agency said: “As Douglass was our voice for understanding the lived experience of slavery, and the nature of the slavery issue in national life, Johnson is the same for the age of Jim Crow.” The Johnson biography is set for fall 2024.

Hendricks and Pekkanen Re-up at SMP At St. Martin’s Press, Jennifer Enderlin inked the bestselling authors of The Wife Between Us to a new two-book deal. Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen were represented in the North American rights agreement by William Morris Endeavor’s Margaret Riley King and Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. The author’s 2018 bestseller, The Wife Between Us, was followed up by this year’s An Anonymous Girl (also a bestseller). The new books, Enderlin said, will “continue in the vein of twisty, female-oriented suspense that deals with relationships, and the fallout of betrayal and revenge.” Forthcoming from the duo (and not part of this deal) is the March 2020–slated You Are Not Alone. Tracy Fisher at WME is handling translation rights.

Finch Extends Lenox’s Stay at Minotuar For six figures, bestselling author Charles Finch signed a new, two-book contract with his long-standing publisher.Charles Spicer at Minotaur took world rights to the currently untitled novels from Elisabeth Weed at the Book Group. Finch, who writes the popular Charles Lenox series (which, to date, includes 12 titles), is also a book critic and won the NBCC 2017 Nona Balakian Citation Award. The13th novel in the Lenox series, which follows the titular Victorian Finch amateur sleuth, will be released by Minotaur in February 2020, with this deal covering books 14 and 15 in the series.

Tokarczuk’s Novel Goes Graphic

Indie publisher Uncivilized Books acquired world rights to I Nina, a graphic adaptation of Olga Tokarczuk’s Nobel Prize–winning Polish novel Anna in the Catacombs. Cartoonist Daniel Chmielewski wrote I Nina, which was originally published in Poland in 2018. Tomasz Kaczynski, CEO and publisher of Minneapolis-based Uncivilized, bought the rights to I Nina directly from the author and translator after, he said, the book’s Polish publisher, Wydawnictwo Komiksowe, was sold. Calling I Nina “one of the most inventive science fiction graphic novels in recent memory,” Kaczynski explained that the adaptation moves the narrative of Tokarczuk’s novel “into a near-future dystopia where humanity survives in a hermetically sealed multi-level world.”


● Leila Slimani’s French novel The Perfect Nanny, which won the the Prix Goncourt in 2016, has been optioned for film by Legendary Pictures. Variety reports that the English-language adaptation of the book, which PW called an “unsettling tale of a nanny who insinuates herself into every aspect of her employers’ lives,” will be produced in coordination with French production shingles Why Not Productions and Pan-Européenne.

● An adaptation of King Leopold’s Ghost (HMH, 1998) by Adam Hochschild is the next directorial project for Ben Affleck. The book is about Belgium’s brutal colonization of the Congo in the early 20th century.


● The 2019 Giller Prize-winner by Ian Willams, Reproduction, was acquired by Dialogue Books (part of Little, Brown UK). The Canadian novel was previously acquired in the U.S. by Europa, which will publish the book stateside in May 2020. Bill Hamilton at A.M. Heath brokered the deal with Dialogue on behalf of Denise Bukowski at the Bukowski Agency. Bukowski called the novel “a tale of love among inherited and invented families.”

● A debut by a stonemason has been acquired in the U.K. Harvill Secker bought Beatrice Searle’s Stone Will Answer. The publisher, via the Bookseller, called the book “part memoir, part meditation on stone and the transformative power of craft.”

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