Avon Touts #OwnVoices Winners

After running what it described as an “open submission” for romance novels last summer, Avon Books acquired two titles. Thien-Kim Lam and Preslaysa Williams inked world rights contracts with the publisher for their contemporary #OwnVoices books after seeing a call for “compelling, heartfelt romances featuring authentic perspectives.” Erika Tsang acquired the novel by Lam, who, Avon said, is focused on “stories about Vietnamese characters who smash stereotypes and find their happy endings.” Williams, an author and professional actor, writes, Avon said, “contemporary romance and women’s fiction with an Afro-Filipina twist.” May Chen bought Williams’s book. Lam was represented by Tara Gelsomino at One Track Literary. Williams did not use an agent in the deal.


Duchovny’s ‘Lightning’ Strikes FSG

Actor, director, and author David Duchovny sold a novel titled Truly Like Lightning to Jonathan Galassi at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The book, which agent Andrew Blauner sold world rights to, is, FSG said, “an epic story about America, religion, family, sex, pop culture, the ’60s, education, environmentalism, greed, murder, love, and blood atonement set in a Mormon enclave in the outskirts of Los Angeles.” Duchovny, in a release, added that the novel follows “a charismatic former Hollywood stuntman turned Mormon homesteader, Bronson Powers, who lives with his three ‘sister wives’ and 10 children on a sprawling ranch that abuts the famous Joshua Tree National Park.” Duchovny is the author of three previous novels: Bucky F*cking Dent, Holy Cow, and Miss Subways.

Herman Gets Presidential at Morrow

After what Inkwell Management agent Stephen Barbara described as a “competitive situation,” William Morrow’s Lucia Macro bought world English rights to Eleanor Herman’s Sex with Presidents. In the book, Barbara said, Herman (Sex with Kings and Sex with the Queen) offers “an account of the bedroom secrets of American presidents and politicians.” Like in her previous books, the bestselling author, he went on, delves into “the sex scandals and transgressions” of a number of commanders in chief. Morrow promised that the title “will offer fresh insights into how the country’s views on sex and power are changing.” Sex with Presidents is slated for the fall.

Stringfellow’s ‘Memphis’ to Dial

Pushcart Prize–nominee and former attorney Tara Stringfellow sold a novel titled Memphis to Katy Nishimoto at Dial Press. The North American rights agreement, closed at auction, is Nishimoto’s first at the imprint. Soumeya Bendimerad Roberts at HG Literary represented the author. Dial said the novel is a multigenerational tale based on the author’s family and that it traces “the effects of violence on the family after the patriarch, the first black detective in Memphis, is lynched by members of his own squad.”

New Carlan Trilogy to HQN

For HQN Books, Susan Swinwood acquired three new works by bestselling author Audrey Carlan (Calendar Girl). The first book in the world English rights agreement, What the Heart Wants, will launch a romantic women’s fiction trilogy and will be released in August as a trade paperback. The series, HQN said, “features sisters who, through the messages contained within personalized letters from their late mother, rethink the direction of their lives and their relationships.” Carlan, who was represented by Amy Tannenbaum at the Jane Rotrosen Agency, is the author of more than 40 novels, and, according to HQN, her books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

Morrow Tackles Gortner’s ‘Adventuress’

In another William Morrow acquisition, Rachel Kahan nabbed world English rights to C.W. Gortner’s The American Adventuress, about Jennie Churchill. Jennifer Weltz at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency sold the book, which tells the tale of the American-born socialite and mother of Winston Churchill. Weltz said Gortner uncovers the life of the “passionate, intelligent, sexually liberated, and often controversial” woman who “conquered the world into which she wed to forge a path for herself, campaigning for her husband’s political career and setting the stage for their son, Winston.” The book is slated for fall 2021.

Bonobos’s Dunn Sells Memoir

A memoir by Bonobos cofounder Andy Dunn, about how he kept his mental illness a secret for over a decade, was preempted by Paul Whitlatch at Currency. Self Disrupt, which Kirsten Neuhaus at Foundry Literary + Media sold world English rights to, reveals, Currency explained, how this secret initially “fueled Dunn’s rise as a startup CEO,” then caused him to “nearly lose everything when his business was on the brink of success.” The publisher added that the book was pitched as “Brain On Fire meets The Hard Thing About Hard Things.”


Jack Fairweather’s The Volunteer (Custom House) has been optioned by House Productions. The title is a biography of Witold Pilecki, a Polish resistance fighter who volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz in order to gather evidence about the horrors being committed there.

In what Deadline called a “very competitive situation,” PKM Productions (which has a deal with Amazon Studios) optioned Grady Hendrix’s novel The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (Quirk, Apr.) after a “ten-buyer bidding war.”


Audible has bought world English audio rights to Canadian author Samra Zafar’s A Good Wife. Samantha Haywood handled the sale, in association with Stephanie Sinclair, and noted that the book is a bestseller in Canada. In it, Haywood said, Zafar shares the story of how she “was suddenly married to a stranger at 17 and left Pakistan for Canada.”

The Bookseller reported that after a five-way auction, U.K.-based Bodley Head won Charlotte Lydia Riley’s Imperial Island. The Bookseller described it as a “revisionist history of postwar imperial Britain,” with the publisher noting it’s a tale of “post-war immigration and decolonisation, from the Suez Crisis to the Falklands.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the protagonist's name in Truly Like Lightning. Additionally, the number of wives and children of the protagonist of that novel has been updated, to correct a publisher error.