DEAL OF THE WEEK
Berkley Re-ups Downing for 7 Figures
In a seven-figure deal, Berkley’s Jen Monroe took world rights to three new novels by Samantha Downing. Barbara Poelle at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency represented Downing, whose March 2019 debut, the psychological thriller My Lovely Wife, was also published by Berkley; the imprint said that title has sold more than 500,000 units worldwide. (It has also just been optioned for film by Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films, and is a finalist for Best First Novel at this year’s Edgar Awards.) Under the new deal, Downing will publish three standalones, one in 2021, with the others following in 2022 and 2023. Berkley said each novel will “continue in the author’s signature style, exploring the dark, twisted, and uninhibited side of human nature.” Downing’s sophomore novel, He Started It (covered under a previous Berkley contract), will be released on April 28.
FROM THE U.S.
Fu’s ‘Blossom’ Opens at LB
For Little, Brown, Helen O’Hare took North American rights to Melissa Fu’s debut novel, Peach Blossom Spring. Clare Alexander at London-based agency Aitken Alexander brokered the deal with O’Hare, after Wildfire acquired world rights to the title. (Wildfire is an imprint of U.K. publisher Headline.) LB said the novel, set for 2022, is “a soaring, multi-generational” saga set in 1938 that follows a young widow who, along with her four-year-old son, must “flee their burning city and start an epic journey across China, looking always to the inspiring stories of their most precious possession: a beautifully illustrated scroll.” The book marks O’Hare’s first acquisition since joining LB from Putnam last month. Fu, who grew up in the U.S. and now lives in the U.K., was most recently the David T.K. Wong Fellow at the University of East Anglia.
Schur Gets Ethical at S&S
Michael Schur, creator of the TV series The Good Place, sold his first book to Simon & Schuster. The tentatively titled How to Be Good: A Definitive Answer for Exactly What to Do, in Every Possible Situation was bought in a world English rights deal by S&S’s v-p and executive editor, Eamon Dolan. Richard Abate at 3 Arts represented Schur, who also cocreated the sit-coms Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks & Recreation. The book, S&S said, “will use humor and philosophy to determine how we should deal with the large and small ethical challenges we all face every day” and “will take readers on a journey through the 2,500-year discussion of ethics.” How to Be Good is set for a fall 2021 release.
Clain Nabs Andrews’s Hot Debut
Judy Clain, v-p and editor-in-chief of Little, Brown, bought North American rights to Alexandra Andrews’s debut, Who Is Maud Dixon? The work of psychological suspense, which the publisher is comparing to Gone Girl, was sold by Jennifer Joel at ICM Partners. Set for spring 2021, the novel follows an author who, after becoming a major bestseller with her pseudonymously published debut, hires a young fan, an aspiring novelist, as her assistant. When the two land in Morocco, where the author is doing research for her next book, LB said, “the ambitions of both parties surface with astonishing speed and lethality” as “the partnership between author and assistant is stripped away to reveal brutal and elemental desires and a deadly ruthlessness.” At press time, the novel had sold in 20 countries; it has also been optioned by Universal Pictures. Andrews is a copywriter who has worked at the Paris Review and ProPublica.
Macmillan Buys Greenwald’s ‘Silence’
Pulitzer Prize–winner Glenn Greenwald sold You Can’t Silence This to Macmillan’s Metropolitan Books imprint. ICM’s Amanda Urban, who represented the journalist, brokered the world rights agreement with Metropolitan publisher Sara Bershtel. The book, the publisher said, will be based on “a series of exposés that rocked Brazilian politics and revealed rampant corruption at the highest levels of the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.” Greenwald, who now writes for the Intercept, is best known for his series of reports for the Guardian detailing widespread government surveillance programs. The new book, Macmillan explained, offers the first full account of how Greenwald broke the news about the corruption in Bolsonaro’s administration, as well as “the consequences of his reporting and the ongoing fallout—for the Bolsonaro government, for Brazil, and for the democratic world.”
Yoon’s ‘Park’ to Aladdin
After an auction, Alyson Heller at Aladdin won North American rights, in a two-book deal, to Jenna Yoon’s middle grade debut. Lia Park and the Missing Jewel was, per Aladdin, “pitched as Harriet the Spy meets Race to the Sun” and follows a 12-year-old in a “magical spy organization” who must save her parents from “an evil diviner spirit.” Penny Moore and Erin Files at Aevitas Creative Management represented Yoon. The book is slated for summer 2022.
Brown Does Double at Morrow
Dale Brown sold two military thrillers to William Morrow in a high-six-figure deal. David Highfill acquired North American rights to the books from Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group. Trident said the first book will “focus on a U.S. Air Force intelligence officer who is assigned to a remote post in Alaska” and what happens when an “assignment designed to put his career permanently on ice turns hot, as Russian combat aircraft and advanced surveillance planes begin probing deeper and deeper into American and Canadian airspace.”
Fox’s ‘Time’ to Flatiron
Bob Miller at Flatiron Books bought a new book by Michael J. Fox titled No Time Like the Future. The fourth title from the actor and bestselling author will, Flatiron said, offer a reexamination of his “iconic optimism” after his diagnosis, at 29, with Parkinson’s disease. In the book, according to Flatiron, Fox “reassesses this outlook while sharing stories and observations about illness and health, aging, the strength of family and friends, and how our perceptions about time affect the way we approach mortality.” Amanda Urban at ICM Partners represented Fox, and the book is set for November.
Darroch Reveals ‘Damage’ in Memoir
Kim Darroch, former U.K. ambassador to the U.S., sold Collateral Damage to PublicAffairs. Clive Priddle bought the book from London-based agent Georgina Capel in a simultaneous deal with William Collins, a division of HarperCollins UK. The publisher said the book, subtitled Britain, America and Europe in the Age of Trump, is an “unvarnished, behind-the-scenes account” of Darroch’s tumultuous time as a diplomat. The book will, the publisher went on, detail “the inside story behind Darroch’s resignation in 2019, describe the challenges of dealing with the Trump White House, and offer a diplomat’s perspective on Brexit and how it looked to Britain’s closest ally.”
Sugar23’s First Buy
At Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Alex Littlefield bought Reid Mitenbuler’s Wanderlust. The inaugural title for HMH’s new Sugar23 Books imprint, HMH said, is a “nonfiction narrative about larger-than-life adventurer Peter Freuchen,” who was “world-famous in the first half of the 20th century for daring exploits that spanned the globe.” Littlefield took world rights to the book at auction from Heather Schroder at Compass Talent.
Morgan’s ‘Jen’ Joins LB
Beth Morgan’s debut, A Touch of Jen, was acquired by Jean Garnett at Little, Brown. Alexa Stark at Trident Media Group represented Morgan in the world English rights agreement. LB called the novel a “viciously funny, genre-bending” work that offers a “disturbing exploration of the stalker-ism inherent in social media culture.” In the book, a couple’s obsession with a woman named Jen unleashes a (literal) monster. LB added that Jen has been described as “Ottessa Moshfegh meets David Cronenberg.”