I Spy: Espionage Redux

By Dick Donahue

Art restorer, assassin, spy—such is the c.v. of Gabriel Allon, Daniel Silva's intrepid leading man, who's been plying his diverse trade(s) since 2000, when Allon made his first appearance in The Kill Artist. This unlikely career trio has earned Silva repeated bestseller status (The Fallen Angel is #1 on today's list) and won him fans like President Bill Clinton, who calls Gabriel Allon his "favorite fictional character." (Silva's first novel, 1997's The Unlikely Spy, was followed by The Mark of the Assassin and The Marching Season.) PW's review of Allon's debut said: "The tragedy of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and despair of its resolution provide the backdrop for Silva's heart-stopping, complex yarn of international terrorism and intrigue. ... An array of global locales adds to the complexity and authenticity of the dizzying, cinematic plot." Often called one of the masters of the contemporary espionage novel, Silva has seen his Allon books become international bestsellers, translated into more than 25 languages and published in 30 countries worldwide. Not surprisingly, Hollywood has come calling: last year Universal acquired film rights to the Allon series, with former NBC executive Jeff Zucker as producer. (A later Hollywood bulletin reported that Paul Haggis had been tapped to write the first Allon film; in addition to writing two recent Bond flicks, Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale, Haggis is probably best known as writer-director of the Oscar-winning Crash.) A former journalist and television producer, Silva left CNN in 1997 and began writing full-time; he was appointed in 2009 to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. In addition to this week's #1 Angel ranking, with Nielsen BookScan's unit sales of 40,746, Silva's 2011 bestseller, Portrait of a Spy, racked up combined hardcover and mass market sales of 169,277.

Texas Style: On the Home Front

Writing professionally since 1981, Sandra Brown has published more than 70 novels, with more than 80 million copies of her books in print worldwide translated into 33 languages. A lifelong Texan, Brown was born in Waco, grew up in Fort Worth, and attended Texas Christian University, majoring in—what else?—English. Before embarking on her writing career, she worked as a model at the Dallas Apparel Mart and in TV, including weathercasting for WFAA-TV in Dallas, and feature reporting on the nationally syndicated PM Magazine. Fresh off the success of Lethal, which received a starred PW review (AP called it "her best book to date") and has sold, says Nielsen BookScan, 174,347 copies in hardcover and paper. In November 2011, Brown embarked on a USO tour to the Persian Gulf with several other thriller writers—a journey she described as "the trip of a lifetime." (Traveling with colleague Kathy Reichs, they were the first two female authors to go on a USO tour.) Said Brown, "It's been my aim to thank each [soldier] I meet, to tell him or her how much their contribution and sacrifice means to the American people. The irony is that they've been thanking us! They've been so appreciative of our coming. I—all of us in the group—have been moved by the welcome we've received, especially in some of the remote bases where 'visitors' are extremely rare." As Brown gears up for the publication of her new novel, Low Pressure (Sept.), she and her husband, Michael, are preparing for the annual Sandra Brown Excellence in Literary Fiction Scholarship, awarded at TCU (elf.tcu.edu/). On September 22, she's exchanging Texas style for Minnesota style: she's appearing at Mall of America for the first time.—D.D.

Kids Books: A 'Glee'-ful Debut

Author Chris Colfer is no stranger to the spotlight, as a Golden Globe winner and two-time Emmy nominee for his role as Kurt Hummel on the TV series Glee. Now, he's attracting attention of a different sort: his first novel, a middle-grade fantasy adventure called The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, went on sale July 17 and has debuted in the #2 spot on our children's fiction bestseller list. Colfer kicked off his literary career at BEA in June, as emcee for the Children's Book and Author Breakfast, and he's just wrapped up a five-market tour, visiting the New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Ohio areas. "The events have been nothing short of incredible," says Melanie Chang, executive director of publicity at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, who is on tour with Colfer. "More than a thousand people were at the launch event at Bookends in New Jersey; fans camped out the night before in Union Square for his Barnes & Noble signing in New York City." Many of these die-hards are, of course, self-professed "Gleeks" who last saw Colfer in the season three finale, "Goodbye." So far, his authorial "hello" is off to a rousing start. —C.J.

A Year Way Up

Gerald Chertavian's bestseller, subtitled How a Pioneering Program Teaches Young Adults Real Skills for Real Jobs—with Real Success, is about the challenges of chasing the American dream when you're stuck on the wrong side of what the author calls the "Opportunity Divide." Told largely by Year Up students, it's the story of how Year Up is closing this divide for thousands of young adults. The Year Up program offers disconnected young adults training, mentorship, internships, and real jobs—often with Fortune 500 companies, such as Microsoft and Morgan Stanley. Today, Year Up serves nearly 1,500 students in nine cities across the nation, and graduates enter the work force ready to embark on what they hope will be a long, productive career path. During Chertavian's many years as a Big Brother, he realized our nation's opportunity divide strands millions of young, disconnected, yet motivated workers in unemployment or dead-end, low-wage jobs. The author has dedicated his life to closing this divide, with Year Up as the result, to redefine our nation's urban young adults as economic assets rather than social liabilities. This story, combined with Chertavian's work, has collected numerous supporters who are contributing to the word of mouth. A six-city tour is under way, bolstered by pieces in the New York Times, Boston Globe Magazine, and the Huffington Post, as well as interviews with students on Youth Radio. The crowds at Chertavian's events at the Boston Public Library, Chicago's Union League Club, the Georgia Center for the Book et al.—plus national radio interviews—indicate that the excitement in improving our society is out there.—D.D.

Iris and Roy: All in the Family

This is the fourth collaboration between the megaselling author and her Edgar Award–winning son; their first foray into "literary partnership" was 2008's Silent Thunder. The duo kicked off their promotional tour with appearances throughout the Atlanta area and a week of signings across Florida, where fans drove from as far as two states away to meet the pair. The publisher generated early excitement for the book by releasing a stand-alone short story introducing main character Kendra Michaels as a 99¢ e-book on June 1. In addition to promotion via national TV ads and online video advertising, Iris's presence on Facebook has been growing by leaps and bounds—last week alone she gained more than 2,000 fans, and mother and son did a live chat on Facebook the day before the book went on sale. According to Nielsen BookScan, Iris's most recent bestseller, What Doesn't Kill You (Apr. 2012), has sold to date 25,058 copies. Next up for Mom: Sleep No More, coming in October.—D.D.