DEAL OF THE WEEK
SMP Goes Big for Gramont’s ‘Mystery’
In a rumored seven-figure deal, Jennifer Enderlin at St. Martin’s Press preempted Nina de Gramont’s novel The Mystery Writer. The world rights agreement was brokered by Peter Steinberg at Foundry Literary + Media. The work, SMP said, centers on the real-life disappearance of Agatha Christie, who went missing for 11 days in 1926. The publisher explained that the novel “is told through the point of view of husband Archie Christie’s mistress.” Gramont, who teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, is the author of numerous books for teens and adults; her 2001 debut, the short story collection Of Cats and Men, won a Discovery Award from the New England Booksellers Association. Film rights to the work are being handed by Rich Green at the Gotham Group.
FROM THE U.S.
Yovanovitch Sells Memoir to HMH
Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, sold a currently untitled memoir to Alex Littlefield at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Littlefield preempted world rights to the book, for a reported seven figures, from Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn at Javelin. HMH said the book, slated for spring 2021, “will recount Yovanovitch’s long career in the U.S. foreign service, which took her from Mogadishu to Moscow to Kiev and finally back to Washington, D.C.—where, to her dismay, she found a political system beset by many of the same challenges she had spent her career combating overseas.”
Goodall Brings ‘Hope’ to Celadon
Doug Abrams at Idea Architects sold The Book of Hope, which he’s cowriting with Jane Goodall, to Celadon Books. Jamie Raab took North American rights to the title, which is set for fall 2021, and will, the publisher said, “celebrate the 60th anniversary of Jane’s pioneering research” and “show how, even in the face of great adversity, hope can be found in human nature and in nature itself.” Abrams, who founded the Idea Architects agency, also cowrote The Book of Joy, a 2016 bestseller by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. Goodall was represented in the agreement by Adrian Sington at Kruger Cowne.
The Ballerinas’ Pirouette at SMP
In a six-figure acquisition, Sarah Cantin at St. Martin’s Press nabbed world rights to Rachel Kapelke-Dale’s debut novel, The Ballerinas. SMP said the book, which Cantin preempted from Sarah Phair at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, follows three dancers who are reunited in adulthood after meeting at the Paris Opera Ballet School as teenagers and must “reckon with old betrayals and new secrets.” Kapelke-Dale is the coauthor of a 2014 memoir about female friendships called Graduates in Wonderland and trained as a ballet dancer for years. She has an MA from the Université de Paris VII and currently lives in France.
Charles Gets ‘Muted’ for Scholastic
After an auction, Scholastic’s Amanda Maciel and David Levithan won North American rights to Tami Charles’s YA novel Muted. The six-figure deal for the novel in verse was brokered by Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Charles (Like Vanessa) was inspired to write the book, Scholastic said, by the #MeToo movement and her experience being in an all-girl R&B group. The publisher added that the novel is “a fearless exploration of the dark side of the music industry, the business of exploitation, and how a girl’s dreams can be used against her—and what it takes to fight back.” Muted is set for a 2021 release.
Benedict Re-ups at Sourcebooks
Shana Drehs at Sourcebooks signed her current author Marie Benedict (Lady Clementine) to a new two-book, North American rights deal. The six-figure agreement was handled by Laura Dail at Laura Dail Literary Agency. Sourcebooks said the novels, like Benedict’s previous work, will tell stories of “women in the shadows of history.” The first book will be about Rose Vallard, a Paris museum curator who, the publisher explained, “passed information about art stolen from Jewish collectors to the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation.” The second book is about British scientist Rosalind Franklin.
Mundy’s ‘Sisterhood’ to Crown
Liza Mundy (Code Girls) sold two new books to Crown in a North American rights deal. Paul Whitlatch acquired the books—The Sisterhood and a currently untitled work—from Todd Shuster and Justin Brouckaert at Aevitas Creative Management. The Sisterhood, Crown said, was pitched “in the tradition” of books like Legacy of Ashes and The Looming Tower, and is “a narrative-driven history of women in the CIA.” In it, the publisher went on, Mundy offers “the most comprehensive account yet of women intelligence officers’ crucial contributions to American history.” The Sisterhood is set for a 2022 publication; the release date and topic of the second book has not yet been determined.
Rebecca Roanhorse’s short story “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM” has been optioned by Amazon Studios. Roanhorse’s literary agent, Sara Megibow at KT Literary, said the story “follows a Native man working for a virtual reality company that offers ‘authentic’ Indian experiences to dark ends.”
The Residence by Andrew Pyper (Skybound, Sept.) has been optioned for series development by Skybound Entertainment and RadicalMedia. Skybound called the work a “haunted White House novel” that follows the loss of President Franklin Pierce’s child in a tragic accident.
The Spanish book El infinito en un junco (Infinity in a reed) by Irene Vallejo has been acquired in Denmark, France, and Russia, with, at press time, offers in from publishers in several other countries. Sandra Pareja at Casanovas & Lynch Literary Agency, who’s handling foreign rights for the narrative nonfiction title, said it is about the history of the book and is “a journey through the life of this fascinating artifact.” She added that Vallejo takes readers “on a hypnotic journey... through time and space, bringing exciting life to ancient Rome and Greece.” The title, first published in Spain in September 2019, is on its ninth 15,000-copy print run there, according to Pareja.