With the publication of the novel Talk on May 6, Cider Mill Press and television personality Michael Smerconish are stepping into new territory together. While Smerconish has written five books, all nonfiction, Talk is his first try at fiction. It's also the first novel acquired by the nine-year-old Kennebunkport, Maine-based press.

Launched by publisher John Whalen in April 2005, Cider Mill maintains licensing relationships with CBS, Peanuts, Paramount, The Jackson Pollock estate, among others. “Our real strength is in developing concepts from the ground up,” said Whalen. “And then bringing in the talent to create the ultimate project.” The company currently has four in-house staff members, and three employees working off-site. Sales in 2013 were up over 40%, Whalen said.

Despite the fact that Whalen established the press as “an entertainment company with a focus on innovative gift book publishing,” he said he has always kept his radar up for projects that tie into Cider Mill’s original publishing premise, which is books that have "strong, distinctive marketing and merchandising opportunities.” Because Whalen had worked with Smerconish in the nonfiction arena during his time as publisher at Running Press, with 2004’s Flying Blind, he was “excited to learn that [Smerconish] had taken up fiction.”

“I was keenly aware of Michael's unique promotional platforms…[his] talent with the written word is remarkable, and upon reading Talk, I knew we had a major project on our hands,” added Whalen, who acquired the book in fall 2013.

In the novel, Smerconish, MSNBC analyst and host of The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM, writes about the world he knows. Described by the publisher as a “Primary Colors for 2014,” Talk follows Stan Powers, a talk radio host in one of the most politically influential markets in the country, who has to decide between his conscience and professional ambitions.

“I have something important to say about what caused our national conversation to take a tailspin," said Smerconish. “I thought I’d try to do it in the most entertaining manner."